The community of Certified B Corporations is leading a global movement of entrepreneurs, consumers and investors with one unifying goal -- to redefine success in business.
By Katie Kerr
The entrepreneur is the engine of change. Government and the nonprofit sector are necessary but insufficient to address society’s greatest challenges. That’s why at B Lab, we work to serve the world’s leading entrepreneurs who use the power of business to solve social and environmental problems.
B Lab supports entrepreneurs through three major, interrelated efforts to:
In the past quarter, we’ve seen progress across the board, giving hope that by being the change, our community can help redefine success in business.
Certified B Corporations Increasing
The community of certified B Corporations continues to grow. In the last quarter, 72 new companies joined, including Ben & Jerry's, Home Care Associates, Corporate Knights and Roshan. Today there are over 685 certified B Corps, across 24 different countries and 60 industries. The B Corp community has become more active as well, creating partnerships, offering and accessing discounts, and acting as advocates to help raise awareness about a better way to do business.
Significantly, these efforts are being recognized.
In 2012, the B Corp movement was covered in over 660 articles, double the coverage of 2011. The excitement isn’t only about one or two big names either. Over 230 different companies have been featured by publications including the Atlantic, New York Times, Financial Times and the Boston Globe. Here, on CSRwire, B Corp stories were the second and third biggest news of 2012. The B Corp community collectively reaches over 14 million friends and followers through social media - 29,000 of which follow B Lab’s accounts for frequent news updates and ways to take action.
Finally, B Corporations are encouraging other businesses to measure what matters: their impact. Over 7,000 businesses are already using the B Impact Assessment, the most comprehensive measure of corporate social and environmental performance.
A recent APCO study revealed that 57 percent of individuals in developed economies agree it’s as important to know how the company operates as it is to know what it sells. With these shifts in investor and consumer demand, as well as additional languages and improved functionality within the B Impact Assessment, we expect many companies will soon be measuring and benchmarking their overall performance. (You can measure your impact here).
Benefit Corporation Legislation
Benefit Corporation legislation, creating a new kind of corporation that meets higher standards of purpose, accountability, and transparency continues to spread throughout the nation. Laws have been enacted in 12 states and are moving forward in 17 others. The legislation has enjoyed overwhelming bi-partisan support, including 12 unanimous votes, because it’s 100 percent voluntary and costs states nothing.
This quarter, both Illinois and Massachusetts joined the movement and enacted legislation.
Illinois celebrated the first effective day by registering 14 companies, including the first bank, GreenChoice Bank. Massachusetts registered seven, with one company, Dimagi Inc, leaving Delaware to take advantage of the new corporate form. Next quarter legislation will take effect in both Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., bringing more freedom to businesses across the nation.
However, the real question for the future of entrepreneurs will be what happens in Delaware, home of the corporation, in the coming months.
Impact Investing and GIIRS
GIIRS is driving capital to entrepreneurs by providing a comprehensive and transparent system for assessing the social and environmental impact of companies and funds with a rating and analytics approach analogous to Morningstar investment rankings and Capital IQ.
Over 350 companies in 29 countries have been rated, 90 of which are also Certified B Corporations. Sixty eight funds, with over $2.5 billion under management have committed to use the GIIRS Rating System, including SJF Ventures, Pacific Community Ventures, SEAF, Ignia and the Acumen Fund. Finally, 25 Pioneer Investors, such as JP Morgan, UBS, IADB and Prudential, have declared an investment preference for GIIRS-rated funds and companies as a part of their impact investing strategies.
With improved analytics and reports, including key performance indicators for companies, marketplace data for impact investing funds and new translation capabilities, we hope to see GIIRS usage continue to grow and more capital invested in the impact economy.
The community of Certified B Corporations is leading a global movement of entrepreneurs, consumers and investors with one unifying goal -- to redefine success in business. We celebrate these recent accomplishments but recognize the long road ahead. To keep moving forward we need you, so that one day all companies will compete to be not only the best in the world, but the best for the world.
About the Author
Katie Kerr is a Communications Associate at B Lab, a nonprofit organization that serves a global movement of entrepreneurs that use the power of business to solve social and environmental problems. Her work has appeared in publications including the Harvard Business Review, Fast Company and Forbes. Please follow B Lab on Facebook or Twitter for all the latest news.