People, Purpose, Planet 2022
Reviewing our third People, Purpose, Planet report shows me how good business momentum builds: we act, we achieve and we are inspired.
Momentum sees investment of time and money into our Employee Ownership Trust – giving 55% of the agency to our people.
Momentum speeds our work to make PR a land of opportunity for more than 50 diverse applicants this year – because we know that diversity makes us stronger.
Momentum drives growth as we move to North America, where our B-Corp ethos generated $1 million in revenue in year one. Now we turn our attentions – and purposeful intentions – to a new German office.
Momentum elsewhere also exposes slower progress, such as our pandemic-affected community engagement. We will do better here in 2022/23.
B-Corp rightly describes itself as a movement – powering our good business cycle of action, achievement and ambition. Gathering momentum, we will travel further and faster than ever before.
Founder & Group CEO
“We are an unashamedly people first agency –founded on the idea that this should be a place where we want to work and be able to grow personally and professionally. Ultimately, we want to be happy in what we do, the people we work with and for – and to have pride in the difference we make every day.”
Tushar Parmar, Client Director
“Climate change accelerates, inequalities grow and millions of people are forcibly displaced around the world. Challenges are many, but so too are solutions. The time for businesses to act is past due. We recognise our power to bring powerful, positive and progressive change – individually and collectively. There can be no better purpose.”
Eloise Clarke, Client Manager
“As the IPCC reports lasting and irreversible damage from climate change, we see that climate neutrality is no longer an effective response. We want to go further and faster. We will become climate positive – encompassing water, waste and carbon – by the end of the decade.”
Zharina Arnaldo, Partner & Global Media Director
Pledges and action
In 2020 we made five specific pledges around shared ownership, plastic neutrality, carbon clients, carbon neutrality and volunteering – making significant progress in 2021 and 2022.
1. Increase team ownership to a third by 2021
Significant financial and time investment to create a legal structure allowing staff co-ownership
As of May 2022, 50% of our people now co-own 55% of the business – exceeding our 2020 pledge
2. Report percentage of turnover from high carbon clients
Reported 0% revenue from high carbon clients
High carbon client revenue remains at 0%. Our approach is not a ban – we may work with clients seeking a sustainable transition
3. Two days per team member for volunteering and fundraising
In 2021/22 we registered over 270 hours of volunteer and fundraising time.
Our people significantly exceeded last year’s total to register over 453 hours.
4. Plastic neutrality
Plastic neutral certification gained from rePurpose Global in October 2020
We have maintained our neutrality and are now re-certifying to ensure continued compliance
5. Carbon neutrality
Achieved and maintained carbon neutrality – planting 2,600 trees to eliminate 195 tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere
Maintained carbon neutrality – growing our forest to over 7,900 trees to eliminate over 649 tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere
In 2021 we made additional longer–term pledges around our: emissions; Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) framework; Justice, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI); B Corp leadership; and sustainable businesses. These are actions that take additional planning before implementation – but progress is being made.
“Ultimately, we want to be happy in what we do, the people we work with and for – and to have pride in the difference we make every day.”
We constantly invest in our people and are lucky to attract some of the best talent in the industry. Despite challenging business conditions in the past year, headcount has risen from 28 to 41 – up by 68%:
- Milk & Honey Group: up from zero in 2021 to four in 2022
- UK: up from 24 in 2021 to 28 in 2022
- US: up from two in 2021 to six in 2022
- Germany: up from zero in 2021 to three in 2022
Our people’s unwavering commitment and astonishing talent has seen 19 promotions in the past year, alongside 16 pay rises.
Pay is calculated using industry benchmarks to ensure competitive salaries. All our interns, for example, receive a minimum c£22,000 pa, while our PR apprentice who joined us in 2021 is paid at the ‘Living Wage’, rather than the government’s ‘National Living Wage’, so their salary reflects the increasing cost of living. To date, 100% of our interns have been offered employment in the Hive.
Profits have been shared with everyone in the Hive in every year since we were founded – in 2021/22 this was equivalent to around 5-10% of salary.
More of us are taking advantage of our flexible working offer – to work where we feel happiest and most productive – with a 25% increase in the number of people working part time in 2021/22.
Milk & Honey is built by the people who work here – so we have ensured that they own what they make. In August 2021, the agency converted to an Employee Ownership Trust (EOT).
- 50% of our people are now trust members
- 55% of the business is now co-owned by the EOT
- One year of service brings automatic trust ownership
- Dividends of up to £3,600 can be paid annually, tax free for the UK team
Diversity and inclusion
As of May 2022, Milk & Honey PR employs and enjoys a diverse workforce – driven by diversity in our recruitment practices – to reflect the communities we serve:
Health and wellbeing
It is our people who make us what we are – and a healthy and happy Hive is our first priority. To deliver this we offer:
- 360 degree health cover, including access to video GPs, vision and dental
- A new Employee Assistance Programme with a very clear focus on mental health and wellbeing
- Accredited menopause support
- Cancer support
- A growing cohort of nine trained mental health first aiders – up from seven last year
- ‘Bee Good to Yourself’ grants to support wellbeing activities
- Extended and highly flexible maternity, paternity and carer programmes
- Supported social events – including ‘cultural escapes’
- Death in service insurance
The Hive is a place to learn and a place to grow. Everyone accesses:
- Investors in People certified and award winning
- Personalised training plans
- £1,000 training budget
- an industry qualification
- 360 degree feedback
- Training check-ins
- Structured and paid training plans for all interns
“We recognise our power to bring powerful, positive and progressive change – individually and collectively. There can be no better purpose.”
250 to 2025 and the Brixton Finishing School
In 2020 we launched an initiative to make PR a land of opportunity for diverse candidates. The aim is to reach out to 250 people from diverse backgrounds and, through educational outreach, industry collaborations and partnerships with diversity and inclusion organisations, encourage entry into the PR industry – and help to break down barriers to their participation.
Events in schools, universities, youth organisations and with industry colleagues have seen us reach 239 diverse potential candidates so far.
In 2021, we partnered with leading diversity and inclusion organisation, ‘The Brixton Finishing School’, which aims to connect industries with people who have traditionally been denied entry to them. The collaboration has seen members of the Milk & Honey team provide expert and detailed mentoring to six Brixton Finishing School students – on subjects such as ‘Nailing Your Interview’ and ‘Get Hired!’ to date.
Bees and Refugees
Since 2020, we have been working with a local charity, ‘Bees and Refugees’ to help introduce beekeeping as a craft and a therapy to refugee and local communities, whilst saving the native British black bee from extinction. In cooperation with the charity’s founder – a Syrian refugee – Milk & Honey provided support in 2021 by helping to write and design Bees and Refugee’s new website. This is a critical piece of the organisation’s infrastructure – connecting refugees, donors and volunteers.
Power to Connect
Local charity, ‘Power to Connect’ has delivered over 1,000 connected devices to families in need. We support this charity by raising awareness and readying donated IT for its new owners.
We believe in B-Corp: the power to bring about a better world through better business. Our Group CEO is already an established and enthusiastic B Leader. In 2022/23, the CEOs of our US and German offices will embark on the programme, alongside Partner level participation from our UK office.
Techfugees transforms the lives of displaced people who are unheard, invisible and excluded. Innovative products provide access to education, information on rights, healthcare and digital services. We have worked with Techfugees in 2021/22 on a pro bono basis – providing in–depth communications support, including helping the organisation to create messaging that engages and influences its audiences.
Plan International UK is a global charity working for children in some of the world’s poorest communities – bringing access to education, health care, clean water and future opportunities. In 2020, we committed to raise £10,000 for the charity. The pandemic slowed progress – but auctions, a gameshow night and sponsored activities have got us within touching distance. We will hit the target in 2022/23.
Better Business Act
The Better Business Act (BBA) is a campaign supported by over 1,000 UK companies – with the aim of mandating companies to place people, profit and planet at the heart of their purpose. We have joined the BBA, and lobbied MPs in the House of Commons in early 2022. We connected with our local MP Marsha de Cordova, who supports the BBA, and she visited our offices in Battersea to take discussions further.
The ‘Wellbeing of Women’ advocacy group has launched a campaign to raise awareness and lobby businesses to support women as they experience the menopause. We have signed the pledge, committing to: recognise that women need specific support; talk openly, positively and respectively about the menopause; and actively support women affected by the menopause.
“…we see that climate neutrality is no longer an effective response. We want to go further and faster.”
Carbon – Ecologi
We work with Ecologi – a global organisation that provides impactful and practical responses to climate change. We have been certified as carbon neutral and in 20 months have:
- Planted over 7,900 trees
- Reduced over 649 tonnes of carbon
- Contributed to clean energy projects in countries such as India, Mexico and Vietnam
Terra Carta is a voluntary roadmap of ambitious but practical action — a recovery plan for nature, people and planet. We have adopted our own Terra Carta commitments and support clients to adopt these within their own business models.
We will never work with organisations that harm people or the planet. To ensure we keep to this commitment, our board monitors high carbon clients. While we maintain a 0% high carbon client portfolio, we would be willing to work with organisations genuinely committed to sustainable transition.
6. B Corps – gathering momentum
B-Corp’s comprehensive measurement helps us to monitor progress and maintain momentum.
*Official verification on B Corp scores happens every three years, next due in November 2022.
7. The Global Goals
We work to further the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals — designed to support people across the planet. We have a specific focus on:
GOAL 3: Good health and wellbeing
ACTION: We have trained nine team members as Mental Health First Aiders to watch for early warning signs, listen to our team’s concerns and act as a gateway to specialised support. We’ve also introduced a library of useful resources, including healthcare provision, which team members have been able to access during the Covid-19 pandemic.
GOAL 5: Gender equality.
ACTION: globally, our support for Plan International UK supports the rights and opportunities of girls and women across the globe. Within the Hive, we have a 100% female board and no gender pay gap.
GOAL 8: Decent work and economic growth.
ACTION: Milk & Honey has maintained profitability throughout a challenging 2021, creating 23 additional jobs and enjoying significant economic YoY growth in the UK of 72%, increasing our American revenue to over $1 million and we have extended operations into Germany. Sadly, we have also had to close operations in Australia, no redundancies were made.
GOAL 10: Reduced inequalities.
ACTION: our focus on diversity and inclusion works to eliminate inequality. Moving beyond Milk & Honey, we have committed to reach out to 250 diverse individuals and support their entry into the PR industry by 2025. To date we have actively mentored six individuals via Brixton Finishing School and spoken to 239 diverse students in schools, colleges and universities.
GOALS 12 & 13: Climate action/Responsible production and consumption.
ACTION: our work with partners such as rePurpose ensures that we are plastic neutral. Further partnership with Ecologi and commitments to initiatives such as Race to Zero are helping us to work towards the elimination of scope 1 & 2 emissions across our operations.