Form Follows Function 2012

Form Follows Function 2012
Signing a copy of the historic CA bill Walking the road to a new economy Celebrating success in California

“The first real, original, constructive thought anyone has had in the corporate governance world in about 25 years.” – A.P. Carlton Jr., former president of the American Bar Association

Thousands of visionary business leaders are building the foundation for the kind of systemic change that can create a new economy with millions of new high quality jobs and improve the quality of life in communities across our country.

As we see throughout the pages of this report, businesses that attend to social and environmental concerns can succeed financially (see Rock Stars of the New Economy). Yet, whether by law or custom, many businesses act as if they can have no purpose other than the maximization of profits.

That’s why B Lab and the community of Certified B Corporations have worked to introduce and support legislation around the country to create a new corporate form called the benefit corporation. According to a white paper from a group of corporate attorneys that have worked on benefit corporation legislation across the country, benefit corporations best meet the needs of the growing number of entrepreneurs and investors interested in using business as a tool to solve social and environmental problems.

Benefit corporation laws have been signed in seven states and are moving forward in ten others. Legislation has enjoyed overwhelming bi-partisan support in every state. In part, that’s because the legislation is 100 percent voluntary and costs the states nothing. But mostly, that’s because businesses have come out in full force to support the legislation. In California for example, thanks to the efforts of B Lab’s national policy partner the American Sustainable Business Council, in addition to marquee supporters like Patagonia, Method, and RSF Social Finance, legislation was supported by approximately 250 individual businesses and a dozen business associations, representing more than 10,000 member companies.

Benefit corp legislation gives businesses the freedom and legal protection to pursue the triple bottom line. It also gives individual citizen something positive for which to advocate. Thanks to the efforts of B Corp Care2.com, nearly 20,000 citizens have written letters of support to their elected officials for benefit corp legislation.

The B Corp community has become a powerful constituency for change.

Benefit Corporations are required to: have a corporate purpose to create a material positive impact on society and the environment (Purpose); expand fiduciary duty to require consideration of the interests of workers, community and the environment (Accountability); and publicly report annually on overall social and environmental performance against a comprehensive, credible, independent, and transparent third party standard (Transparency).

Please visit benefitcorp.net to find resources for businesses and attorneys interested in learning more about benefit corporations or to support future legislative efforts.