Recently, I was doing something that I haven’t done in a while – shopping in a store. Don’t judge. Between Amazon, Thrive Market, Etsy, StitchFix, and the online presence of virtually every traditional store, shopping from home tends to be my first choice.
On this particular shopping trip, I was in the grocery store and came upon Conscious Company magazine. I immediately fell in love with the publication from the title. Conscious companies and a magazine all about them, that’s what I’m talking about.
I, like many consumers today, am concerned with my consciousness and the conscious viewpoint of the places I patronize. Do they contribute to causes regularly? Do they believe in equal pay for women and men? Are they a one for one company like Toms shoes? How does the organization treat its employees? And what about diversity?
The more aligned a company is with my values, the more likely I am to choose them over a competitor. And there are millions of people just like me. With the rise of social entrepreneurship and a cultural shift toward conscious living (thank you OWN TV), many businesses are deciding to positively impact the social ills that plague our society. And one of the ways to formally demonstrate that commitment is by forming or converting to a B-Corp or Benefit Corporation.
A B-Corp is a for-profit company that is certified by a third party agency. To gain the certification, the company must meet certain standards of social and environment performance, accountability, and transparency. It’s similar to a Fair Trade Certification or USDA Organic Certification for food. B-Corp certifications take those fair trade and organic concepts and transfer them to the business world.
In addition to B-Corp certifications, several states have added legislation making Benefit Corporation an official business entity choice. Currently, Benefit Corporations are available in 30 states and the District of Columbia. A new business can choose to be a Benefit Corporation as its initial business entity, and an established business can convert its current entity to Benefit Corporation status as well. Most states require that a business meets the following requirements to become a Benefit Corporation as a business entity:
1. Purpose – the business must declare its commitment to making a material, positive impact on society and the environment. This declaration can be general or specific depending on the state.
2. Accountability – the company must create the position of Benefit Director to ensure that the corporation is meeting its stated purpose.
3. Transparency – the Benefit Director is responsible for producing an Annual Benefit Report on the company’s beneficial impact over the year. This report is measured against the standards set by a third party agency. Depending on the state, the Annual Benefit Report will also have to include the names, addresses, and salary information for the Benefit Director, the Benefit Officers (if any), and anyone owning a certain percentage of the corporation.
You do not have to be certified by a third-party agency as a B-Corp to choose Benefit Corporation as your business entity. You simply need to meet the requirements of your state for that entity choice. But if you want to go the extra mile, you can do both – choose Benefit Corporation as your business entity and becoming a certified B-Corp by meeting the requirements of a certifying agency. The choice is yours. Either way, that decision is a good one in my book.
Interested in learning more about Benefit Corporations and B-Corps? Check out www.benefitcorp.net or www.bcorporation.net. And as always, don’t forget to let me know your thoughts or questions by posting them in the comments below.