Benefit corporation

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A benefit corporation or b-corp is a for-profit entity that is chartered with dual objectives: providing return to shareholders as in a conventional corporation, but also to benefit the society as a whole. Such organizations' officers and directors do not have the same fiduciary responsibilities as conventional corporations in countries whose laws and accounting practices require they always maximize shareholder financial value. They do have an obligation to increase value, but not when it has negative societal cost. They are intended to build both financial capital and social capital.

Legislative definition

In the United States, the first state to provide for the creation of benefit corporations is Maryland. The enabling legislation requires that decisions of "Maryland b-corps must be weighed not just in light of shareholder or investor value, but equally in terms of “community and societal considerations” and “the local and global environment.”" Other U.S. states that have passed legislation are Vermont, New Jersey and Virginia. Legislation has been introduced in California, Colorado, Hawaii, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania. [1]

Certification

Legislation eases the process but it is not necessarily required for corporations chartered with purposes consistent with the model. A Pennsylvania non-profit called B-Lab certifies corporations as in compliance with B-corp goals.[2]

References

  1. Nancy Goll (4 April 2011), "The Purpose-Driven Economy", Portfolio.com
  2. Susan Adams (16 March 2011), "Corporate Responsibility Nonprofit, B Lab, Shows Strong Growth", Forbes