Wisconsin has one, Illinois has five. But nary a one is found in Minnesota, Iowa, the Dakotas and Montana. Is it a bird? A Plane? Neither. It’s a B Corporation. And while B can stand for a lot of things, in this case it means “beneficial.” A “B” Corporation is a new brand of corporation that adheres to the oft-used phrase, “Do well by doing good.” A true B corporation is good to the earth, and by extension all the creatures in it. The founders of this style of business believe that it is important to distinguish between those who are truly doing good deeds from those who are just good at marketing the idea that they are doing good – in order to do well without actually doing good.
The idea started in Silicon Valley, of all places, in 2007 with one of the founders being Andrew Kassoy who previously worked for the company that managed the financial empire of Michael Dell. Initially 21 companies signed on and now they claim, “190 B Corporations, $1.0 Billion Marketplace, 31 Industries.” In order to become a B corporation, a company must score at least 80 points on a 200 point scale through a survey administered on the B Corporation’s web site. But for those who think they can change back to the old ways of doing business after signing up, there is an audit process to keep everyone honest.
Leaders of B corporations believe that the marketplace consists of a diverse range of customers who, especially in today’s economy, have a certain set of beliefs about the environment, animals and humans. And they spend money accordingly. The B companies care more about communities than shareholders. Though shareholders are owners and owners are thought to be rulers – legally. The Greyston Bakery is a B corporation which makes brownies for Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream. It employs people with little training who were formerly homeless, incarcerated or faced other adversity. In Chicago, the Pivotal company plans events that are “exciting, edgy, innovative and fun,” while also being “lean, mean and green.”
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