We caught up with Amy to hear how Seismic came to be, what they are trying to achieve with 10 million people, tips for living sustainably and what her mastermind subject would be.
I’m Amy Bourbeau and I am the Co-Founder and Chief Impact Officer at Seismic. We are a sustainability consultancy and we specialise in helping companies utilise the B Corp framework to understand and improve their impact and become a force for good in the world.
Can you tell me a bit about how you started Seismic?
My co-founders and I had the idea to start seismic in 2020, and we officially launched in 2021 and it was a very interesting process to start a business during the pandemic. We’d already signed a lot of the shareholder agreements, and I hadn’t even met one of my co-founders in real life before, which was interesting.
But we really wanted to come together – each of us has a really strong, passionate background in sustainability, B Corp, the environmental side of things as well as the social side of things. We felt that we had a lot of shared values and really common goals in that we wanted to kind of exponentially grow our impact. And we knew that we could make a big difference in society if we came together and started an organisation of people that had those shared values. And so we have a really Seismic vision, which is to help 10 million people work for businesses that are a force for good by our fifth birthday party. So yeah, we decided that we needed help if we were going to achieve that vision.
Why did you choose the deadline of your fifth birthday?
We just know that we need to go fast because to see a genuine shift in the world and to slow down the negative impacts that are happening to our planet and our society, the change has to happen now. So five years felt like it gives us a little bit of time to get going, but also kind of is in line with the urgency that we need to see.
"We just know that we need to go fast because to see a genuine shift in the world and to slow down the negative impacts that are happening to our planet and our society, the change has to happen now."
What is the most important thing about the work Seismic does?
I think the most important thing about the work that Seismic does is that we have a massive opportunity and privilege and also responsibility to challenge our clients. Our clients come to us and ask us for help to understand what they should be doing to be a more impactful, more positive business for society and the planet.
And it’s really important that we take that responsibility seriously and we don’t just say ‘that’s okay, you’re on a journey, don’t worry about it, take your time.’ But that we are challenging our clients to do more and to go faster. So it’s an amazing opportunity to be able to help change the way that business is done and to help our clients to do more and solve problems for the planet instead of creating them.
Would you say there was a point in your life, something that happened or something you got involved in that first ignited your passion for this kind of work?
I always wanted to do something that created a positive change in the world, and I was working in different aspects of sustainability, looking at different frameworks, but found that there were either frameworks that were very deep and specific about one aspect of business or that were very broad and high level and hard for business to come to terms with.
So what did this mean for us? I discovered the B Corp framework in 2014 when it was only just starting out here in the UK and immediately fell in love with the fact that it is this amazing practical tool for businesses to use to really understand what they’re doing, what the gaps are, what they should celebrate, but also how they can do more and be a better business.
So finding that and falling in love with the tool but also the community and everything that the B Corp movement brings to the world just kind of ignited me to put my all into trying to grow that movement and support the mission of the B Corp movement.
What have been the biggest challenges – as an individual starting a business and as a business starting from scratch?
I would say the biggest challenge that we’ve faced in the last couple of years as we’ve been starting out and growing is trying to find talent in the sustainability industry. It’s really interesting because there’s a huge amount of passion and people wanting to come in and start working in the sustainability industry. But because it’s a relatively new sector, there’s not actually that many people out there who have a lot of experience in practising this work.
So what we’ve had to do is work on our training programs and make sure that we’re looking to hire people who have experience, but also that we’re hiring amazing people who are entering the industry for the first time and helping to train them up to understand what it means to be a sustainability professional.
To celebrate B Corp month & all the good that the movement is doing, Amy Bourbeau hosted a panel of inspiring women led founders who #GoBeyond to run their businesses as a force for environmental and social good.
B Corp is a social and environmental movement harnessing business as a force for good to change society for the better and to fix our planet.
The Rooftop, Spitalfields | 22 March 2023
How can people try to live more sustainably?
If you want inspiration as to how to actually live sustainably in your own life, a really great tool that I would recommend is a company called Do Nation. So instead of donating money, you’re donating actions as in your personal life. So it has all this inspiration about the small and some are big changes that you can make in your day to day life. Things that you can mix up to help to reduce your carbon footprint. So there’s some obvious things like walking instead of taking the tube or driving a car. But then there’s some really interesting ones as well around changes that you can make in your home or to your diet or to your general lifestyle that you might not have thought of that are really incremental changes but make a big difference on society. And they’re a B Corp as well!
If you were on Mastermind, what would your specialist subject be?
If I were a mastermind, I feel like the thing that I would be able to answer the most about is useless information about pop culture or TV or film, specifically shows like Fleabag. I feel positive that I could answer pretty much any question that comes my way.
I’ve consumed it like an embarrassing amount and so I feel like I could take it on.
What do you do when you are not working? Except when watching Fleabag.
So when I’m not working, I just love to kind of chill out, enjoy my local area, eat loads and go to local markets, go to local restaurants, cook sometimes, usually eat out, but also dancing. So dance classes, dancing with friends, dancing at home.
What kind of dancing?
Well, I do pole dancing – I’m relatively new to it. You can do more than you think you can. I do it at Pole People, Shoreditch – really close to here!
You’re based in East London – what is your top restaurant recommendation?
I have to say, the place that I’m the most obsessed with in East London for eating is Pophams. It’s in London Fields, very local to the Mare Street Second Home location. It’s great in the daytime for an epic pastry and then in the evenings they’re a very like, cool small plate pasta place.
It’s very delicious.
So you have recently joined Second Home – can you tell us a bit about why you chose Second Home as Seismic’s place of work?
So we chose Second Home as our place of work because you’re actually a client of ours – we are helping you through your recertification process as a B Corp and we obviously love the fact that you’re a B Corp, love that you’re in a great location, accessible for transport links for our team members who are outside of London. And obviously it’s such a gorgeous, cool location.
I think we really appreciate the kind of energy and the break out spaces and it just feels really nice to work here.
If you had to describe your second home in three words, what would they be?
I usually say ‘lava lamp.’ It feels like you’re inside of a lava lamp.
But okay – I would say if I had to describe Second Home in three words, it would probably be both vintage and modern at the same time. Somehow, and cozy.
"I think what is amazing about the B Corp community, but also lived in spaces like Second Home, is this concept of pulling down the barriers, working together, collaborating, sharing our learnings and working together to go faster."
What does community mean to you and what is the value of being part of a wider community like Second Home?
Community is really important to us at Seismic. We are obviously part of the B Corp community which Second Home is also a part of and it’s such a wonderful reminder of the importance of just reaching out, connecting with other individuals and working together and collaborating. I think the concept of competition in business is so outdated and kind of safeguarding learnings to yourself so that you can kind of be the first to do this or that.
And I think what is amazing about the B Corp community, but also lived in spaces like Second Home is this concept of pulling down the barriers, working together, collaborating, sharing our learnings and working together to go faster. Because ultimately, even if we’re in different sectors, a lot of us have shared challenges and shared goals. So it’s really nice to be in spaces like physical and conceptual spaces that really support and foster that collaborative way of working.
What excites you about the B Corp movement?
Something that is really exciting about the B Corp movement is the growth trajectory of it. When I first started engaging with B Corp in around 2015, there were six B Corps in the UK. In November 2021 we celebrated 1000 B Corps in the UK and it’s really exciting take the tube and see adverts with the B Corp logo on it and for example, working at Second Home, you’re inside a B Corp, they sell B Corp certified drinks like Karma Kola in the cafe and we’re a B Corp and other B Corps are based here and you can really live a life that has a lot of B Corp influence where you as a consumer of products and services, you have the opportunity to choose something that you know has been certified and meets a high standard of social environmental performance, which is a really nice position to be in.