Jay Parkhill May 18th, 2008
There’s the C corporation that most people are familiar with (what you get if you don’t specify anything else) and the S corporation that is tax free but doesn’t allow preferred stock. Both of these names come from the sections of the IRS tax code that describes them.
Add now the B corporation. The “B” stands for “beneficial”. It doesn’t have special tax rules- instead the intent is to tell people clearly that the company considers benefit to its employees, the general public, the environment etc. along with shareholder profits. The organizers have developed a community of B-corp adopters, and it includes a bunch of “green businesses” but also a couple of big law firms, a skateboard manufacturer and a handful of software companies.
The challenge of socially entrepreneurial companies is that they can do very well, get acquired or obtain outside capital and/or management, and the core principles can get diluted. The B corporation process doesn’t prevent this from happening, but it does make loud and clear that social good is a core element of the business.
So how does one become a B corporation? First, one must fill out a survey. A passing score means that one can take the next step of amending the corporation’s Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation to state the social purpose(s) clearly. I haven’t done it yet, but I am going to take the survey as it applies to my own business. I hope I score well!
There is nothing magical about any of this. It can all be changed or abandoned completely. It is, though, a way to tell the world what your company cares about strongly. That can be good for the company, good for business and- one hopes- good for the world.Tags: business models, social entrepreneurship, sustainability, triple bottom line