As many of you know, I'm a big fan of the B Corp movement.

As many of you know, I’m a big fan of the B Corp movement.

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As many of you know, I’m a big fan of the B Corp movement. 

Originally shared by B Corporation

The community of 900+ B Corps across the world are launching the #BtheChange campaign to celebrate the movement to use business as a force for good. Check out this video to learn more about B Corporations, and then join us at BtheChange.com!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V-VFZUFJwt4

9 comments

  1. These are exactly the kinds of companies I  look for to have as clients and collaborators.  Fantastic!

  2. Love the point of business as our most powerful tool for change.  Respect and appreciate the folks and companies of B-Corp.  and – I have a wrinkle in my feelings to share – I disagree with the problem statement that B-Corp purports to address.  Namely, they argue that standard corporations can not pursue corporate social responsibility and therefore the B-Corp structure is needed.  I appreciate that some companies may want to be further differentiated on this issues, but there is nothing stopping corporations from actively pursuing CSR – particualrly when mounting evidance demonstates that it’s a more profitable path and is good for stock price.  We should not reinforce a message that you have to be Patagonia to do CSR, this idea gives CEOs of corporations permission to fail on CSR and we can’t afford that.

  3. YES!!

    Thanks Gideon Rosenblatt ,  I must add B Corporation to my circles immediately 😉

  4. I am a too small business but it was interesting to read about who are the B Corps and to learn some good things. Thanks Gideon Rosenblatt 🙂

  5. btw: BetterWorldBooks.com has been one of my primary sources for books for years 😉

  6. You know, Susanne Ramharter, I must confess to never having been to the Better World Books site. Looks cool. Thank you. 

    http://www.betterworldbooks.com/

  7. Thanks for the thinking, Kevin. 

    For those of you who don’t know Kevin Hagen, he speaks with some authority on this topic, having run REI’s sustainability efforts for many years. So I take his thinking on this with due consideration. 

    Kevin, that said, I guess this is a place where we disagree a bit. There are (at least) two main reasons for B Corp certification and branding. The first, as you note, is one of differentiation in the market. The second is added legal protection from things like shareholder lawsuits and financial threats like hostile takeovers.

    On the first point, the big players like REI and Interface don’t really need B Corp’s help to differentiate themselves in the market; they’re doing just fine on that front through their own efforts. But for the smaller players, this kind of accreditation really can help, I think – especially if the B Corp name succeeds in building broader public awareness – which is why I promote it when I get the chance.

    There is some real debate about exactly how vulnerable companies really are to shareholder primacy lawsuits, of course. In a way, when you really look at the legal cases, there’s not a clear mandate to pursue shareholder interests over everyone else’s – at least on a legal front. Rather, it’s a deeply bound cultural assumption that is mixed in with lots of misinformation, fear, uncertainty and doubt. Most heads of firms really would prefer not to have to deal with this kind of uncertainty, and so from that perspective I think the B Corp movement raises awareness to an explicit alternative, and the benefit corp legislation efforts help to cordon off the perception of a legal threat. This gets a lot tougher when the company is publicly traded. 

    As to whether something like B Corp gives CEOs of other big corporations permission to fail on CSR, well, if this were the reason they failed on that front, their real commitment had to have been pretty flimsy in the first place and not the kind of deep cultural commitment that produces real change within a firm, but rather the kind of leader who uses it purely for creating positive external impressions. 

    That my two cents anyway. 

  8. I say we only disagree in the nuance. The formality of the B-corp Brand and the process/testing they impose/support is good work. And, B-Corp legal status is very valuable especially for smaller/medium size biz in protecting CSR values at special moments such as liquidity events.

    My rub comes more in the “marketing” where they tend to actively reinforce the false idea that corporations are legally bared from Sustainable Business strategy due to the primacy of shareholder interests. As you point out, the legal case for that is simply bunk. it’s really been an excuse for apologists of “business as usual” to not take responsibility for the consequences of business (to fail on CSR). Perhaps I’m overly sensitive, but I cringe whenever the sustainability community unintentionally gives intransigent business leaders (or their supporters) an excuse not to change.

    Ultimately this goes away – sustainable business will put unsustainable business out-of-business. Corp leaders who fail to recognize the business value of sustainable strategy will be ex-leaders, But whatever we can do to help them change will hurry the day.

  9. Well said, Kevin Hagen. I appreciate the additional round of thinking here. And you’re right; we actually do agree here. Anything that reinforces the impression that shareholder primacy is inevitable unless you explicitly organize around it, well that is a danger. I think the struggle for the B Corp folks must be that they are trying to simplify their case for why it’s important, and in doing so, some of that nuance gets lost. 

    On your last point, well, how do I say this….

    YES! 

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