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Encircled: A Certified B Corporation

August 16, 2021 8 min read

Encircled, A Certified B.Corporation

As a slow fashion brand, Encircled strives to be a force for good in the fashion industry through our ethical and sustainable practices. We put our people and the planet before profits, as each step of the business considers the social and environmental impact of our decisions. Committed to doing good and being a leader for a more sustainable world, we’re proud to be a Certified B Corporation and have the second highest impact score out of all Canadian apparel companies!

Curious to learn more about this certification and its significance? We've broken down the five main B Corporation evaluation categories below to share what we’re doing to be a force for good in the world and what we’re working on moving forward.

 

 

Certified B.Corporation Breakdown

Legally required to consider the impact of our decisions on our employees, customers, community and the environment, Certified B Corporations are purpose driven businesses that meet the highest verified standards of social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability. Evaluated in 5 categories every 3 years and given a final ‘impact score’, we first became a Certified B Corporation in 2018 with a score of 91 and through our efforts as a team have re-certified this past year and improved our score to 103. To put this into perspective, to become a Certified B Corporation, companies must maintain a minimum score of 80 and the median score of an ordinary business is 50.9. 


Established as a new way to do business, Certified B Corporations put people and the planet before profit in order to make positive social impacts in the world. Across a variety of industries from food and tech to fashion, Certified B Corporations are evaluated on their governance, worker, employee, environmental and customer practices. To calculate this score, the team at B Corp. verifies each company's performance measure to ensure we’re walking the talk, and each Certified B Corporation’s score is published on the official B Corporation website to maintain transparency.


As a slow fashion brand committed to producing high quality, ethically and sustainably made clothing, we believe that being transparent throughout all practices is a step in the right direction towards a more inclusive and transformative fashion industry. To share our efforts and commitment to doing good in the world, we’re proud to disclose the steps we’ve taken in each category and recognize that our path towards a more sustainable world is not done as we continue to work towards improving all areas of our business. 

 

1. Governance

The Governance section of the certification process evaluates a company’s mission, ethics, accountability and transparency. It measures if we have adopted social or environmental missions, and how we engage our employees to achieve these goals. This part of the certification also assesses the diversity of the company as well as our customer and employees opportunities to provide feedback.


What We’re Doing 

Currently, we treat our social and environmental impact as a primary measure of success for our business and prioritize it even in cases where it may not drive profitability. This means donating to causes we believe in, selecting locally sourced materials and making decisions that lessen our environmental footprint. 


We also strongly believe that each workplace should foster equitable, diverse and inclusive practices, and provide each employee with the proper training to ensure a collaborative and welcoming environment. In addition, to support our mission for positive social and environmental impact, our employee training includes social and environmental issues related to our company and its mission to do good. We’ve also signed the legal contract with B Corp. to testify our commitments and hold ourselves accountable. 


What We’re Working On 

While our team currently undergoes training to learn about the social and environmental issues related to the company, we’re working towards a training program for our managers to be able to better communicate both the company’s social and environmental goals and future plans. By setting and sharing clear goals with the entire team, we can work towards a more collaborative environment and support each other’s efforts. In addition, while we track our social initiatives, we recognize that clearer goals must be set in order to hold the team accountable and track performance and social impact over time. 

 

2. Workers

The workers section of the assessment evaluates our company’s relationships with our employees and measures how we treat our workers through compensation, benefits, training and ownership opportunities. This category also looks at the overall work environment created. 

 

 

What We’re Doing 

While the fast fashion industry is known for its exploitation of garment workers, our commitment to ethics and centring the wellbeing of our employees is at the heart of our business which is why we pay workers at all levels of the supply chain a living wage. Full time employees are provided with health and wellness benefits and part time employees are eligible within the first 3 months of their time with us.


We want everyone who works at Encircled to feel valued and be equipped with the best possible training and feedback in order to be successful in their role, so each employee is provided with a formal on-boarding process, non-career specific life-skill training as well as equity, diversity and inclusion training. We’ve also introduced daily huddles, quarterly conversations and an annual satisfaction survey to allow employees to feel empowered by giving their input.  


What We’re Working On 

Producing ethically made clothing is at the heart of our business, and so as our team grows we must develop a more extensive worker health and safety committee to ensure that the available resources are prepared to handle a growing team.

 

3. Community

The community portion evaluates our supplier relations/diversity, and our involvement in the local community. It also measures our level of community engagement, charitable giving and if our products solve a social issue or positively contribute to the community through economic opportunities. 


What We’re Doing 

As a Certified B Corp. it’s in our corporate DNA to use our business and resources as a force for good. To support our community, 80%+ of our costs are spent on Canadian companies with all of our garment and manufacturing facilities being within 60km of our Toronto studio. With a strong desire to have a positive social impact of those around us, we donate to charities that we believe in such as OxFam, the PACT Urban Peace Program and Reclaim the Block, and have launched the Encircled “Impact” Fund in partnership with the diverse women-powered Founders Fund in Canada to elevate emerging non-binary and women-identifying BIPOC-founded ethical brands in Canada.


We’ve also taken the 15% pledge which means that our gift-guides, giveaways, collaborations and future  pop-up markets will feature a minimum of 15% Black-owned brands.


What We’re Working On 

Supporting and contributing to a diverse community of people is important to us as we strive to create a positive social impact within our local communities. As a brand committed to furthering our equity, diversity and inclusion practices, we must start tracking the diversity of ownership of our manufacturing partners and continue to support traditionally underrepresented populations. This includes clearly outlining written local purchasing and hiring policies that are in line with our values and setting actionable goals such as ensuring a certain percentage of our fabrics are always knit locally. 

 

4. Environment

The environment portion evaluates our company’s environmental performance through its facilities, materials, emissions, and resource and energy use.


What We’re Doing 

As a slow fashion brand, our impact on the environment is at the forefront of all our business decisions. With all garment factories being within 60km of our Toronto studio we reduce our carbon footprint, cutting out unnecessary shipping and freight. 


Our fabrics used to make each garment center sustainability with core fabrics ranging from Modal made from sustainably-sourced Beech wood pulp, 100% biodegradable Tencel Lycocell that uses closed loop yarn meaning no chemicals or water are released back into the environment as well as Rayon from Bamboo, organic cotton and more. Many of our fabrics are also OEKO-TEX Standard 100 certified meaning that the fabrics are free of harmful chemicals.

 

 

We also take steps to reduce our environmental impact by making our clothing in small batches to reduce excess inventory, make accessories such as scrunchies from excess fabrics, use compostable mailers for our packaging and ensure that as many products around the office are as environmentally friendly as possible from soy based inks, organic local coffee, non-toxic cleaning products and proper electronic waste disposal methods.  


What We’re Working On 

Although we make a continued effort to curb our environmental impact, we are working towards tracking our energy usage and greenhouse gas emissions such as carbon emissions. Through use of online tools, applying questionnaires and surveys, and collaborating in industry wide surveys, these metrics can be assessed at our local manufacturers. For instance, we can ask the dye house that we work with to share their water footprint and reduction to increase transparency across our brand. Conservation and efficiency improvements not only improve our impact on the environment but will also lead to energy savings for our facilities. 

 

5. Customers 

This section of the certification measures the positive impact our company has on customers by assessing if our products promote a public benefit or solves/improves an environmental or social issue. This part also looks to see how we treat our customers and what steps we’ve taken to develop a relationship with our community. 


What We’re Doing 

We love our customers and value both their support and input which is why our Customer Love team works hard to maintain relationships with our community and take all feedback received back to our design and management team. In addition to offering product/service guarantees and warranties, we have third party quality certifications and have a formal quality control process to ensure only the highest quality garments are sent out the door!


We monitor customer satisfaction and have a formal program to incorporate customer testing and feedback into product design.



What We’re Working On 

While the quality control of our garments is done in house to ensure only the highest quality pieces are being sent to customers, we recognize that we need to conduct quality control of our manufacturing patterns to affirm that the companies we work with continue to support our value set of ethical, environmental and socially conscious working conditions. This could include a yearly review of our suppliers practices.


Purchasing From a B.Corporation

Purchasing from a Certified B Corporation ensures that the product or service that you’re paying for has been produced with the highest social and environmental standards. When you see the Certified B Corp. label you know you can feel good about your purchase because every step of the supply chain has been thoughtfully completed to contribute to an economy where the business centers a clear social and environmental purpose rather than focusing on profits. Seeing the Certified B.Corp label allows you to be intentional with your money and support businesses that are a genuine force for good - no more questioning the integrity of a brand, with the Certified B Corp. label you can be sure that the company’s verified impact score is a reflection of their practices and have been assessed by a third party. 


Are you familiar with Certified B Corporations and their efforts to be a force for good in the world? Let us know in the comments below how you strive to have a positive social impact in your community!


Travel Essentials. Encircled creates versatile minimalist clothes with the everyday traveler in mind. Each piece is Made in Canada, out of sustainable, and eco friendly materials.

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