B Lab, a nonprofit organization, awards Benefit Corporation certifications (B Corp) to for-profit companies that “meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.” To earn Certified B Corporation status from B Lab demonstrates that a company is committed to sustainability and aims to create value for society as well as the economy. This is a deviation from normal corporate standards, which are focused primarily on increasing profitability for shareholders. B Lab states that, “B Corp is to business what Fair Trade certification is to coffee or USDA Organic certification is to milk.”
Though B Lab’s B Corp certification is not legally recognized, 26 US states and the District of Columbia have passed legislation that formally recognizes benefit corporation status. Delaware passed this legislation in July of 2013, which is significant given that roughly half of the Fortune 500 companies are incorporated there.
Benefit corporations are not currently recognized by the state of North Carolina, but North Carolina businesses can still go through the certification process through B Lab. Certified B Corporations are given access to educational resources and support services offered by B Lab, including help with marketing and fundraising. For more information on the certification process visit https://www.bcorporation.net/.
A client of mine recently went through the certification process and reported back that it was painless. One criterion that must be satisfied is that your corporate documents must have some specific language that reflects the B Corp mission. You should consult with a local attorney if this is a process that you are interested in in order to make sure your corporate documents are in compliance.
Clement Law Firm, Asheville, NC -- [http://www.eclementlaw.com]-- 828-281-8160
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