- November 9, 2011
- 3 Comments
B Corporation is in the business of making business good.
Just like our primer on social impact investing, we’re providing another primer. This time, a brief outline of B Corporations: the what, who and why.
What is a B Corp?
The B Corp is a rating system for how well businesses are doing—for their employees, for their community, and for the environment—in addition to the traditional business focus on profit. So, in a similar fashion to the way that buildings can become LEED-certified, or the way that coffee can be FairTrade certified, so can companies become B Corp-certified to show commitment to their social and environmental impacts.
B Corp was developed by the non-profit B Lab, whose stated mission is to “use the power of business to solve social and environmental problems.” Simple mission statement. Big, bold mission.
What’s the difference between a B Corp and a Benefit Corporation?
They sound like they’re the same, right? Not quite. Triple Pundit does a fantastic breakdown of the difference between B Corps and Benefit Corporations, so scoot on over to read their article. (And don’t miss the additional insight provided by one of the founders of B Lab in the comments section.)
Who are the B Corps?
With 471 businesses B Corp-certified, some of those you might recognize include: Seventh Generation, Method, GoLite, and Warby Parker. See the full list of B Corps here.
Why a B Corp?
- 471 certified B Corps
- $2.24B in revenues
- 60 industries
- $2M in annual savings
(according to B Corp’s site.)
In addition to the mission that B Corps will make business better by loosening the reins that have so tightly steered business to move single-mindedly toward profit, B Corps provide:
- eligibility for venture capital and social impact investing
- legal protection when businesses consider and pursue non-financial goals
- accountability for pursuing the triple bottom line (and not just the financial bottom line)
- transparency in business practices—anyone can view how a business is doing in their triple bottom line commitments
There’s even argument that B Corps could save capitalism from itself.
Jerry of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream—a company recognized for working to do business better, before “B Corps” were a thing—believes that B Corps allow businesses to choose what their bottom line will look like.
Of course, not everyone believes that B Corps are the be-all, end-all solution to making business better. In fact, some worry that B Corps could hurt potentially non-profits, by luring people who would have otherwise donated money to charity to instead invest in B Corps.
Although B and Benefit Corps are new—experimental, even—we believe they are pushing forward reality that business can be better.
Image credits: http://www.bcorporation.net/