“Walking the Walk”: Alchemy One’s Joel Trethowan on the value of being B Corp certified

Alchemy One

• This certification was a culmination of two years worth of work

Independent media agency Alchemy One has announced that it has become B Corp certified, making the agency one of the few media agencies globally to earn the designation.  With this designation, Alchemy One is a part of only 4% of the 100,000 companies that have gone through the process successfully.

Mediaweek caught up with Alchemy One’s co-founder and managing director Joel Trethowan to follow up on our chat from earlier this year to talk about what this achievement means for the agency.

Trethowan said that this was a culmination of two years worth of work in applying, which some may even consider quick compared to the amount of time that it takes other companies.

“We’re quite small compared to some of the big brands that go for it, it can take them up to three years, with teams dedicated to trying to get the certifications. So it definitely was a sigh of relief to get it.”

Alchemy One

Trethowan said that a lot of the B Corp philosophies had organically already been implemented at Alchemy One before the certification, but that being a B Corp meant that the agency will continually try to improve those ideals.

“The thing that we love the most about B Corp is you get a score out of 200. We’re sitting on 89.3. No one gets 200 – Patagonia has 151.4 and they’re insane. The goal is with B Corp is that every two years you have to recertify, so we’re going to try and keep improving our score every two years. With that, we’ve got a slew of different initiatives. We’re really strong on the environmental side of things at the office but also working from home.”

Trethowan said that as part of increasing its score, Alchemy One also wants to lead the industry in areas such as diversity and inclusion.

“For an agency that means things like our reconciliation action plan, and knowing what a true diversity and inclusion strategy means at Alchemy One, rather than it just be a tick box exercise. I’m not throwing shade but so many people are saying we need a strategy, but we really want that strategy to feel holistically right with what we’re trying to do with Alchemy One.”

While being a B Corp certified business might mean that Alchemy One can gain like-minded clients, Trethowan also pointed out that this also set in stone the types of clients that they won’t be working with as well.

“It just solidifies the moral decisions we already made, but it now formally excludes us from working with the fossil fuel, gambling, tobacco, and alcohol industries, which is something we’re really proud of. Those clients do reach out for new business opportunities, but we just don’t feel like they’re the right fit for us. But also, they’re not the right fit for what B Corp is, which is a like minded group of companies and organisations that are trying to create a better world.

“We see it as a really strong credential for businesses who are looking for an agency and they’re very like-minded from a values perspective as well. I think with the rest of the industry, it’s very easy for people to say they are purpose driven or purpose aware. But at the same time, if you look at their client roster, what are the brands they’re working with? It could be a fossil fuel emitter or a gambling company. So it’s like, yes, you can say that, but what does that actually mean in practice? We’re not just talking the talk we’re actually walking the walk. It’s a big sign about who we actually are as a business and we don’t have any skeletons in the closet.”

While the B Corp designation sets media companies like Alchemy One and Benedictus Media apart, Trethowan said that he wants as many agencies as possible to become certified. 

“I’m working with the IMAA across the next year to do a workshop about how to become B Corp certified. I would love to put that call out for any other agencies who are looking for help, because it is a pretty daunting process. Just reach out because the more of us that are actually marking our words and putting actions into place the better.

“We may not be seen as an industry that can speak about purpose in the same way that other brands can, but really any business has a footprint and any business can enact change – so it’s using the platform that you have in the right way, and I think that’s what we’re excited about. A media agency can actually drive change and do great things to the community, the environment, and people.”

Top Image: Joel Trethowan

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