Benefit Corporations and Certified B Corps

Lead Author: Samira Hanessian

Publish date: 02.19.2015

 

Organizational activities for the common "good" have never been limited to just voluntary or non-profit organizations. Prior to the establishment of social benefit programs (such as unemployment insurance) at the state and national levels, businesses in a local region commonly served as the "employer of last resort" for those in need. Today, there are many for-profit businesses equally concerned about their neighbors and the common good. However, there are challenges in gaining recognition for those efforts, and in many states there are legal inhibitions for corporations trying to address social or environmental issues at the expense of profits.

 

Over the past thirty years a variety of certification programs, including organic, marine, and forest certification, have captured the attention of those for-profit organizations trying to separate themselves from the herd. Although these material sourcing approaches are very valuable, they do not necessarily address the core nature of the for-profit business itself. For-benefit status and B Corp certification have the potential to complement and supplement these programs, especially for chain-of-custody participants. For-Benefit Corporation legislation provides the legal basis and For-Benefit certification the recognition needed to support positive corporate behavior.