What's the big deal about B Corps?
By Christina Williams
Sustainable Business Oregon editor
"As a certified B Corporation in Oregon, Canvas Dreams holds itself to the same high
standards and meets the same high requirements as would a Benefit Corporation
company in a state legally recognizes Benefit Corporations. Operating as a B
Corporation has increased other companies' awareness of our own, gotten us more
involved in progressive community services and organizations, such as the VOIS
Alliance, and helped remind us to always keep in sight and mind our commitment
to do what is right for our employees, our customers, and the environment."
"In the continually shifting economic climate, green and progressive businesses sometimes occupy a marginalized and self-congratulatory portion of the corporate spectrum. Benefit Corporation legislation, while being compatible with the values of green and progressive businesses, also opens the doors for companies of all types and mindsets to be recognized for operating at higher levels of standards."
An effort is on to pass legislation in Oregon during the upcoming session that would create a legal framework for a new kind of company, one that bakes into its founding principles the idea of providing a benefit to its community and its environment in addition to providing a financial return.
Since 2007, the Philadelphia-based nonprofit B Lab has been certifying companies as B Corps., a program that benchmarks, measures and creates a community of like minded B Corp. companies. Think of it as similar to the LEED certification program for the green building industry.
|Oregon's B Corp. CEOs weigh in >>|
At the same time, B Lab has been working to get states to pass legislation to legally recognize Benefit Corporations. So far 12 states have done so and Oregon is counted among the 14 states that are "working on it," according to B Lab.
In September Secretary of State Kate Brown announced that her office would sponsor legislation to add Oregon to that list. A similar push came up during the short session of the Oregon Legislature earlier this year but never came to a vote.
"Right now the sense I'm getting is this will be received favorably," said Peter Threlkel, Oregon's corporation division director. "We're trying to do everything we can to make it something that the legislature will be willing to support. If the (December) special session tells us anything, there seems to be support for things that will be good for Oregon's economy and good for business."
Brown's office is positioning the bill as an economic development measure, something that William Clark, a Philadelphia lawyer with Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP — who has had a hand in the legislation passed in all 12 of the Benefit-adopting states so far — says is a common take.
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