Author: Caroline Seton, Co-Founder and Head of Growth & Strategy at HumanForest.
Soon after celebrating our first birthday this September, HumanForest received B Corp accreditation becoming the first shared e-bike company in London to gain such recognition.
HumanForest’s two key values of affordability and sustainability contributed greatly to this success but we also have a third pillar – our responsibility as a company which underpins our entire mission and was intensely scrutinised in the B Corp process.
For us, responsibility is an all-encompassing term that transcends the positive impact HumanForest has on the environment. We believe that, to be recognised as a responsible company by ourselves and the public, we need to ensure our impact on both the environment and society is wholly positive.
Operations: the Forest Guardians & Sherlock Detectives
HumanForest works hard to be proactive rather than reactive where possible because with social responsibility comes accountability.
While users benefit from our e-bikes being dockless, their physical presence on the streets means they’re a constant ambassador for HumanForest to all members of the public. We’re mindful of this and have a stringent and efficient operational infrastructure to ensure we integrate into the community with minimal disruption.
We have a three-pronged approach to mitigate any problems associated with our e-bikes to prevent infringing upon people’s everyday lives.
The first line of defence is our team of Forest Guardians and Sherlock Detectives who patrol the streets, preemptively relocating e-bikes, tidying Green Bays and finding missing e-bikes before they compromise anyone’s movement through London.
If a problem does arise, our Support & Community team expertly handles reports from the public, allowing us to react promptly and on a larger scale.
Finally, our battery swappers and rebalancers are out in the field for 20 out of 24 hours of the day. Their regular presence in The Forest allows us to guarantee that an e-bike will be collected and relocated within 24 hours of being reported, however in reality, the turnaround is approximately 4 hours, with instances of it being within 10 minutes if a driver is in the right place, at the right time!
Head of Operations, Will Jansen highlights the value of HumanForest’s united and cohesive operational approach.
“Managing such a large fleet of e-bikes responsibly is a challenge, but each team plays a key part in ensuring they are well distributed and available to users when and where they need them.
“Responding to reports quickly and efficiently maintains the public’s trust in our service, cementing a strong reputation and confirming the company’s positive societal contribution.”
We understand the importance of engaging with every new urban environment and its community, which is why our team carefully monitors the effect our operations have on its surroundings by planning deployment, parking and usage areas. We also have constructive dialogue with local councils and community groups to hear their concerns and ensure our mission aligns with their aims.
Marketers minimising waste
Integrating environmental and societal elements into upcoming projects poses exciting challenges for the marketing team who aim to create campaigns that engage with the community, whilst complementing our goals as a responsible company. They have a particular focus on reducing the amount of waste we produce, so target reusing and upcycling materials.
Their resourcefulness and creativity were demonstrated at our ForestFest where they salvaged leftover wood in our warehouse to create signage for the festival. On a bigger scale, and arguably one of their most successful campaigns, the team took a vandalised e-bike and gave it a new lease of life as the Golden bike, as opposed to scrapping it.
HumanForest’s merchandise has also been scrutinised, with the team conducting thorough research to ensure it’s responsibly sourced. As a result, they pinpointed Project Merchandise, a B-Corp company for our t-shirts and hoodies, along with Bag It Don’t Bin It, to produce sustainable and reusable cotton tote bags.
It’s these details that are often overlooked, however by addressing them, we propel the company’s responsibility even further.
Internal values and ethos
Internally we promote small but important everyday changes, which reflect what we champion to our community. These range from providing all employees with two hours of free riding everyday, to using coffee rejected by supermarkets and milk delivered in reusable glass bottles to the office.
Every employee receives stock options, which enhances their personal sense of pride in our mission, and motivates them to go above and beyond to have an individual positive impact on society. For example, individuals might voluntarily tidy up e-bikes, or assist users who need help with the app out of hours.
Our employer-supported volunteering scheme further encourages employees to give back to the community. Each employee receives one paid day of leave a year to volunteer for a cause of their choice, allowing them to connect with their local communities and give back to society.
A deep dive into HumanForest beyond our 10 free daily minutes and fleet powered by 100% renewable energy, highlights the attention to detail and logistics involved in fulfilling our social responsibility. Whilst we’ve always known the extent of our efforts, recently receiving our B Corp accreditation verified our beliefs.
The B Corp certification is a rigorous process covering all areas of the business, and our impressively high score of 98.5 is confirmation from B Lab that HumanForest’s hard work has been recognised as meeting their high standards of social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability.