Publicly Doing Good and Doing Good Business.
The Benefit Corporation (B-Corp for short) is a new type of business entity supported in over 25 states that allows companies to focus on more than just monetary return and instead have multiple bottom lines that include benefiting society and the environment.
To date, most of the companies that choose this business type have not been public, given that traditional corporations are centered on maximizing shareholder value. Yet, the tide is turning, which might start to tip the balance towards a more balanced evaluation of business returns and impact. This is a raising of the bar of what business could, and perhaps should, contribute to society.
Here are a few inspiring company examples:
- Etsy has received a lot of attention due to its April’15 IPO, which will now make the company another example of a public Benefit Corporation. The company even did things differently with its public sale, keeping 5 percent of its shares for its community members. This action is consistent with its ethos, yet not surprisingly garnered criticism from some in the financial community.
- Ben & Jerry’s has had social cause at the center of its business since its start back in 1978. Now, with the B Corp as an option, the company formally became a Benefit Corporation and B Lab certified, despite being owned by the corporate behemoth, Unilever. Unilever should be lauded for how it’s managed the business since 2000, both for holding to the brand’s essence and continuing to be a positive example of what a socially-oriented business can accomplish.
- Plum Organics is a healthy food company now owned by Campbell’s that has also taken on B-Corp status. Again, it’s encouraging to see a bigger company being willing to take on this responsibility, even if it’s in a smaller subsidiary. In doing so, Campbell’s is supporting Plum having more than just profit be its governing business driver.
The Industry Forecast: Help us overturn historical norms and raise the bar for what business offers society.
Photo Credit: theimpulsivebuy
Heller, Matthew. “Etsy to Put B Corp Label to Test With IPO,” CFO.com, March 5, 2015. http://ww2.cfo.com/capital-markets/2015/03/etsy-put-b-corp-label-test-ipo/
Lee, Thomas. “Plum Organics’ quest to do good poses legal risk to Campbell Soup,” SFGate.com, November 10, 2014. http://www.sfgate.com/green/article/Plum-Organics-quest-to-do-good-poses-legal-5882197.php