By Jonathan Lee
Benefit Corporations, colloquially known as B Corps, have been gaining rapid popularity since the first B Corp certification in 2007. According to the B Lab, the founders of the B Corp movement, there are over 2,655 B Corps in 60 different countries. B Corps are for-profit companies that are committed to solving social, environmental, and economic problems through business (Lomonaco, 2018). In order to obtain certification, a company must pass the B Impact assessment: a test that assesses the company’s performance in Governance, Workers, Community, Environment, and Customers.
There are a variety of benefits associated with obtaining a B Corp certification. Consumers are often more likely to gravitate towards businesses that conduct themselves ethically and have a mission beyond just profit. This is especially true for millennials. According to a University of Southern California study, 91% of millennials are far more likely to support a business with a social cause rather than a company that primarily seeks to please their shareholders. Globally recognized, powerhouse brands like Ben and Jerry’s and Patagonia, both worth hundreds of millions, grew in large part due to their advertised environmental and social missions. Beyond the potential for growth, most B Corp companies aim to obtain certification simply because it aligns with their values to positively impact the world. As Jill Coleman, Supply chain manager of Wild Friends Food explained, “Our customers, consumers, suppliers, and employees trust us to care about their health and well-being, and the health and well-being of the environment, just as much as we care about our shareholders’ financial well-being. Becoming a B-Corp allows us to responsibly, and legally, offer all our stakeholders a high level of care when making decisions.”
Becoming a certified B Corp allows the company to demonstrate these values with their customers, employees, and communities alike (Yena Hu, Director of Business Development for Sherpa Foods). When I interviewed Brandon Smith, a founder of a B Corp sports drink company named NOOMA, he stressed that there is far more to his company than just making money. NOOMA, and many B Corps included, exist to help and inspire the communities that not only believe in the product but the cause as well (Smith).
B Corps are intriguing organizations that expertly balance the social responsibility of a nonprofit while still making enough money to flourish. They are and will continue to be an important example of how businesses can be used to transform and impact the world.