Benefit Corporations and B Corps: The Latest Buzz #9

Benefit Corporations (a legal designation) and Certified B Corporations (a third-party certification) are changing the landscape of sustainable business. Here’s the latest from around the web about this important movement:

Finally, watch B Lab co-founder Andrew Kassoy get recognized at Clinton Global Initiative!

What are your thoughts on the latest B Corp news?

Benefit Corporations and B Corps: The Latest Buzz #8

Benefit Corporations (a legal designation) and Certified B Corporations (a third-party certification) are changing the landscape of sustainable business. Here’s the latest from around the web about this important movement:

B Corporation

Finally, even former President Bill Clinton takes notice of B Corps:

What are your thoughts on the latest B Corp news?

Benefit Corporations and B Corps: The Latest Buzz #7

Benefit Corporations (a legal designation) and Certified B Corporations (a third-party certification) are changing the landscape of sustainable business. Here’s the latest from around the web about this important movement:

  • B Corporation Benefit Corp legislation is still pending in Michigan, noted in this article that explains how Benefit Corps are different from regular corporations. Care2 also has an online petition supporting legislation in Michigan. In South Carolina, one of the legislators who introduced legislation in that state explains how his plan mixes doing well with doing good.
  • It seems like every day there’s a new blog post trying to explain what benefit corporations are – even Bill Moyers is getting in on the action with this post.
  • B Corps are driving a new ecology of commerce, as detailed in this great post that explains how to become a B Corp, why companies choose to do it, and how they’re changing the corporate playing field.
  • “Advancing the benefit corporation” tops the list of 10 ways finance can be a force for good, in an interesting post by a Yale Professor of Economics and Finance.
  • California is currently home to 142 of the 505 Certified B Corps nationwide, and 61% of those are in the Bay Area, as noted in this piece on Oakland North that shines the spotlight on Oakland-based Give Something Back and Berkeley-based Sun Light and Power.
  • A misconception continues to persist, in some circles, that doing good comes at a price for a business. Certified B Corp Harvest Power, however, shows that’s not true as they raise $110 million to turn waste to energy.
  • Certified B Corp United By Blue brings sustainable apparel to the mainstream in a big way – its first production run of t-shirts made in the US has been picked up by Nordstroms.
  • Have you met Aunt Bertha? You should. This Certified B Corporation is doing something quite interesting – picking up where Uncle Sam leaves off.
  • Can a new kind of corporation save us and our economy? That’s the question asked in this article on Alternet, which showcases Certified B Corp Equator Coffee as a “B Corp in Action.”
  • Congrats to Dogeared Jewels & Gifts, which recently announced their official certification as a B Corp!

Finally, in a piece prompted by their original B Corp profile (included in The Latest Buzz #6), PBS takes a closer at LEED Certification:

What are your thoughts on the latest B Corp news?

Benefit Corporations and B Corps: The Latest Buzz #6

Benefit Corporations (a legal designation) and Certified B Corporations (a third-party certification) are changing the landscape of sustainable business. Here’s the latest from around the web about this important movement:

And, in case you missed it, here’s the piece that PBS did on B Corps – “Benefit Corporations Aim to Make Profit, Positive Impact.” It’s worth watching!

What are your thoughts on the latest B Corp news?

 

Benefit Corporations and B Corps: The Latest Buzz #5

Benefit Corporations (a legal designation) and Certified B Corporations (a third-party certification) are changing the landscape of sustainable business. Here’s the latest from around the web about this important movement:

  • Forbes turned the spotlight to the rise of the charitable for-profit entity, examining “two new types of corporations [that] have been created to address the goals of making money, attracting private investors and addressing societal concerns: the benefit corporation and L3C.”
  • B CorporationThe Wall Street Journal noted “That anything other than maximizing shareholder value should be considered in a company’s decision-making normally can open the door to investor suits”… Benefit Corporations, however, are now changing that.
  • Why do companies choose to become Certified B Corps? Context Travel explains their reasons and the benefits of becoming a B Corp. Renewable Choice Energy also recently became a certified B Corp. On their blog, they share their experience getting certified as a B Corp.
  • “B Corps are about changing (or rather growing) corporate laws, standards, systems, and cultures” – and in doing so, they’re driving a new ecology of commerce.
  • B Corp Open Neighborhood is bringing idea of local communication to the digital age, with a unique social media platform, a free-wifi initiative, and a group purchasing program for solar energy. Learn more about Open Neighborhood on Care2.
  • Though the B Corp certification is not intended for non-profits, have you ever been curious about what B Lab’s own B report would look like? Wait no longer. In the spirit of transparency, B Lab has released its own B report, impact assessment, and supplier list.

Finally, the CBS Evening News ran this piece about Benefit Corporations that focus on giving back:

What are your thoughts on the latest B Corp news?

Benefit Corporations and B Corps: The Latest Buzz #4

B Corporations and Benefit Corporations are changing the landscape of sustainable business. Here’s the latest from around the web about this important movement:

  • California’s new Benefit Corporation legislation went into effect on Jan. 3, paving the way for more companies to maximize social good while turning a profit. In all, 12 companies registered as Benefit Corporations on the first day, with Patagonia leading the charge as B CorporationCalifornia’s first Benefit Corporation. KQED reported on Benefit Corporations, and even mainstream business publications took notice of the new law; Bloomberg examined the possible future of sustainable business law and the Economist noted that firms with benefits are part of a larger trend, with Britain and European countries already having or also developing new legal frameworks.
  • B Lab has set up a comprehensive Benefit Corporation Information Center that is a great resource for information about Benefit Corporations. It’s well worth checking out for businesses, attorneys, and directors interested in learning more about benefit corporations.
  • A great article on the Stanford Social Innovation Review explains why corporate structure matters and notes that Benefit Corporations represent “an opportunity to make a paradigm shift that harnesses the incredible power of companies to benefit society and the economy.”
  • The emergence of Benefit Corporations that incorporate a social or environmental mission into for-profit companies of course also blurs the traditional lines between for-profit and non-profit organizations. A short post on The Non-profit Quarterly asks, “But what does it [the Benefit Corporation structure] say about non-profits?” The American Bar Association noted that it could help non-profits deliver benefits by offering a new solution to the dilemma about whether to incorporate as a non-profit or for-profit. Nixon Peabody Law Firm provides a lengthy and detailed examination of Benefit Corporations, L3Cs, and the need to clearly understand the new legal alternatives for structuring business entities.
  • B Corp Warby Parker continues to make the news, this time with a write-up in Entrepreneur magazine about how this innovative eyeglass company secured venture capital (if you missed their Fast Company video, you can view it here.)
  • B Corps continue to grow in Canada. IMG  just became certified in December 2011, joining Dirtt and Bullfrog Power as Founding Canadian B Corporations.

Finally, our local NBC Bay Area spotlighted Give Something Back in its segment about Benefit Corporations:

Benefit Corporations and B Corps: The Latest Buzz #2

B Corporations and Benefit Corporations are changing the landscape of sustainable business. Here’s the latest from around the web about this important movement: B Corporations

  • Everyone’s talking about the passing of Benefit Corporation legislation in California. The Capitol Weekly, the newspaper of California government and politics, recently announced that a “new breed of company” is coming to California.
  • The SF Gate also noted that “California can become a magnet for companies pursuing a triple bottom line,” especially since the Bay Area already has many socially-conscious companies.
  • Sustainable Industries features a good overview about the Benefit of Benefit Corporations, explaining what they are and noting that “triple bottom line businesses are getting legit.”
  • The emergence of Benefit Corporations of course has significant legal implications. This legal perspective explains the difference between Benefit Corporations and Flexible Purpose Corporations. Also, one of the attorneys who worked on Benefit Corporation legislation was recently interviewed by the Green Chamber of Commerce, and it’s well worth reading, which you can do here.
  • Two movements as powerful as B Corps and Occupy Wall Street can’t help but call for comparison, such as in this post by B Lab co-founder Andrew Kassoy, an analysis on the shared goals and different tactics of the two movements, and how B Corps are an alternative to big corporations (a post that previously appeared on this blog).
  • Did you know that there are B Corps in Canada? MaRS, which is “building Canada’s next generation of growth companies,” explains the B Corp Certification and a newspaper notes that a local company is one of only 20 B Corps in Canada.
  • The story of B Corp iContact, an email marketing and social media marketing company, was profiled in Time magazine – and it’s an inspiring account of the humble origins of a $50 million company.

Finally, for the first time in its 94-year history, Forbes magazine identified the top 30 social entrepreneurs. Guess who made the list? B Lab founders Jay Coen Gilbert, Bart Houlahan and Andrew Kassoy, plus B Corps New Leaf Paper, Gray Ghost Ventures, Freelancers Union, and Ignia. Congrats to all!

Tired of Big Corporations? Check out B Corporations Instead

The Occupy Wall Street movement is now in its second month, and whether you agree or disagree with it, it clearly cannot be ignored. My own feelings towards it have been somewhat ambivalent. As a member of the 99%, I share the frustrations of many who are tired of seeing our government controlled by large corporations and am deeply troubled by the effects that a growing gap between the rich and the poor has on our democracy and the opportunities that this country has always offered. However, I feel that some of the anger has been misdirected at business in general. During the General Strike in Oakland on November 2, a large banner reading “Death to Capitalism” was prominently hung up during the march. How can I, as a business professional, support a movement in which some members view business as the problem?

Not All Businesses Are Created Equal

The truth is that not all businesses are created equal. Consider the following characteristics of Big Corporations:

  • Legally required to focus first and foremost on maximizing profit
  • Can operate largely without regard to how their business affects society and the environment
  • Drive local, independent businesses out of business
  • Take money out of the local economy and send it to shareholders and executives outside of the community

By contrast, consider the following characteristics of B Corporations:

  • Legally required to make decisions that are good for society, not just shareholders
  • Use the power of business to address social and environmental problems
  • Often local, independent businesses that operate within and give back to their local community
  • Help keep money in the local economy where it continues to circulate within the community

The problem is not business in general, or even Big Corporations alone, but instead it is the way in which large corporations have prioritized profit above all else. B Corporations are part of the solution. B Lab co-founder Andrew Kassoy captured this quite well in a recent piece in Forbes: “The Occupy Wall Street movement signals a collective dissatisfaction with the status quo. B Corporations and their supporters are offering an alternative.”

Harnessing the Power of Business – for Good

One of the reasons that I went into business is because I believe deeply that we need to address the social and environmental problems that we face. Yet, when I looked at the options for effecting change, I had to acknowledge that the government can’t solve our problems (especially in its current state of impasse) and the non-profits, where I worked for years, simply don’t have the resources to solve all the problems that they’re tackling. The private sector is in the best position to effect positive social change by harnessing the power of business and diverting it away from just making money and towards making a profit while acting responsibly – and this is exactly what B Corps do.

If you are a business owner, I encourage you to consider becoming a B Corporation. The process begins with completing the online B Corp Impact Assessment. If you are not a business owner, consider shifting your purchasing dollars to B Corporations and local independent businesses that provide jobs, produce positive social impacts, and protect the environment.

 

Benefit Corporations and B Corps: The Latest Buzz

Now that California has passed Benefit Corporation legislation, Benefit Corporations and B Corps are all the rage! If you’re trying to keep up with it all, here’s the latest from around the web:

  • An interview on KPFA last week explores the Benefit Corporation legislation. It’s well worth listening to, and you can Benefit Corporationsaccess it here.
  • Following the B Corp Retreat in October, Shift Alliance explains the purpose, progress, and future challenges of B Corps.
  • With the passing of the new legislation, it’s easy to confuse Benefit Corporations with B Corporations. Sometimes, however, a B is not a B.
  • What is being called the biggest change in NY corporate law since the introduction of LLCs in 1994? Hint: It involves turning profits while benefiting the public.
  • If you’re trying to make sense of B Corps, this primer on B Corps breaks it down for you.
  • What was the process for one company to become a certified B Corp? Rivanna Designs shares their story.
  • This short video by B Corp Impact Makers has been around for a while, but it’s worth watching because it explains their model for doing good – and challenges you to steal it!

Finally, if you haven’t yet read B Lab co-founder Andrew Kassoy’s post on B Corps and Occupy Wall Street, I highly recommend that you read it here.

California Passes Benefit Corporation and Green Business Legislation!

Over the weekend, Governor Brown signed two important pieces of legislation that will help to advance socially and environmentally responsible businesses in the state: AB 361 and AB 913.

AB 361: Benefit Corporations

With AB 361, California joins a growing list of states that now recognize Benefit Corporations. The bill was introduced by Assemblymember Jared Huffman and creates a “new, entirely voluntary type of corporate entity to let California businesses balance the pursuit of corporate profits with environmental and social goals.” Under current state law, corporations are required to prioritize profit and financial interests. Benefit corporations are different in that they allow corporations to give equal consideration to social and environmental interests instead of just to financial profit. This is a significant step that gives triple bottom line businesses legal recognition in California.

AB 913: California Green Business Program

AB 913 requires the Depart of Toxic Substances Control to establish a California Green Business Program. Under the Hazardous Waste Source Reduction and Management Review Act of 1989, the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) is already required to establish a program for hazardous waste reduction. AB 913 requires that, as part of implementing its source reduction program, the DTSC develop:

“A California Green Business Program that provides for the voluntary certification of businesses that adopt environmentally preferable business practices, including but not limited to, increased energy efficiency, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, promotion of water conservation, and reduced waste generation.”

Green and Sustainable Businesses: Onward and Upward!

Taken together, these two pieces of legislation can have a significant impact on businesses that want to incorporate the triple bottom line into their business practices. AB 913 will provide additional resources to the many small businesses in the state that want to go green but may need guidance and support in order to do so. AB 361 will give corporations that are ready to adopt a new corporate form that better reflects their social and environmental mission an option for legally doing so. Both the creation of a statewide Green Business Program and the new Benefit Corporation entity will also help consumers to distinguish between businesses that make green claims versus those that either meet green business certification standards and/or incorporate social and environmental interests into their legal framework. It should also be noted that both Benefit Corporation status and Green Business Certification are entirely voluntary.

Additional information about AB 361: Benefit Corporation legislation and the Green Business Program is available on the blog.