Like most people on “The Internets,” I Wish This Was* covered in bacon. Spoiler Alert: This blog post is NOT, in fact, covered in bacon. However, I do hope that you thoroughly enjoy these tasty morsels of information about “the other” popular B-words recently cooked-up in an effort to support the emerging social good business sector:
- Certified B-Corporation or Certified B-Corp
- Benefit Corporation sometimes also referred to as B-Corp
- B Lab
- Better World Books: a stellar example of a Certified B-Corp in action
This post was inspired by a fantastic presentation by John Ujda of Better World Books, hosted by NAWBO Atlanta. Better World Books is a Certified B-Corporation (yes, you will learn exactly what that means in this post).
Better World Books uses the power of business to change the world. We collect and sell books online to donate books and fund literacy initiatives worldwide. With more than 8 million new and used titles in stock, we’re a self-sustaining, triple-bottom-line company that creates social, economic and environmental value for all our stakeholders. This 1-minute video tells you the story of the Better World Book movement.
A few juicy morsels I picked up about Better World Books:
- It was founded by 3 Notre Dame students in 2002 inspired by a book drive.
- They now process 100,000 books/day!!! Wow!
- They ship to 11M customers in 46 countries.
- They are about reading, writing and RESPECT.
- They are about the environment: 89M books have been re-used, equating to 1.2M trees and a 29 ton carbon offset.
- They are a business: 8M titles and free shipping at www.BetterWorldBooks.com and they also sell books via 52 other marketplaces.
OK…now that I’ve got your mouth watering, let’s dive into the nuances of the non-bacon “B’s:”
1) CERTIFIED B-CORPORATION OR CERTIFIED B-CORP:
A new type of corporation that uses the power of business to solve social and environmental problems. Certified B-Corps have undergone a rigorous certification process (available to all types and sizes of companies).
Source: B Lab
- Take the FREE B Impact Assessment. A company’s public B Impact Report showcases performance data about the social and environmental practices behind its products.
- There are currently 500+ Certified B Corporations across 60 different industries with one unifying goal: to redefine success in business.
- Certified B-Corporations proudly display the Certified B Corp Seal and enjoy the benefits of membership in an elite and growing community. See and learn more about the Certified B Corp Seal here.
2) B LAB:
B Lab is the nonprofit organization that provides the official B-Corp Certification. B Lab is dedicated to using the power of business to solve social and environmental problems. B Lab drives systemic change through three interrelated initiatives:
- Building a community of Certified B Corporations to make it easier to tell the difference between “good companies” and just good marketing
- Accelerating the growth of the impact investing asset class through use of B Lab’s GIIRS Ratings & Analytics by institutional investors
- Promoting legislation creating a new corporate form that meets higher standards of purpose, accountability and transparency.
3) BENEFIT CORPORATION:
B-Corporation Legal Framework (business structure), as defined by B Lab:
Benefit corporations are exactly the same as traditional corporations except for three little things that make them game-changers. Benefit Corporations are required to:
1) Purpose: have a corporate purpose to create a material positive impact on society and the environment;
2) Accountability: expand fiduciary duty to require consideration of the interests of workers, community and the environment; and
3) Transparency: publicly report annually on overall social and environmental performance against a comprehensive, credible, independent, and transparent third party standard.
WAIT…WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A BENEFIT CORPORATION AND A CERTIFIED B-CORP???
Source: B Lab
To learn more, I encourage you to peruse the B Lab site where you will find much more information on this hot topic, including:
- The B-Corp Declaration of Interdependence
- List of Certified B Corporations
- B-Corp In the News (including video & audio)
As I write this on 8/14/2012, Benefit Corporation laws have been enacted in seven states and bills are moving forward in seven others.
For a visual overview, check out this “What is a B Corporation” INFOGRAPHIC we pinned on For Momentum’s Pinterest Account and remember to Follow our Boards while you’re there.
I find the topic of Certified B-Corps/Benefit Corporations to be very exciting. I look forward to seeing the new social purpose business sector continue to evolve and grow over time. This is “social marketing” being applied to business as a whole – fantastic! I hope this post has helped provide some clarity on the topic as well as sparked your interest. As evidenced here, industry terminology can be quite nuanced and somewhat confusing. You can download For Momentum’s FREE Cause Marketing Glossary here as a convenient reference guide and sign up for our e-newsletter here.
“B” well! 🙂 Trisha
* I couldn’t help myself. With all those B’s, I HAD to find a way to bacon-ize this post, albeit in a slightly in-direct way. I am pleased to introduce you to the “I Wish This Was” stickers project, a creative community engagement project that encourages neighborhood improvement. Here’s how they describe it…enjoy!:
“Many cities are full of vacant storefronts and people who need things. Made by Candy Chang, these stickers are an easy tool to voice what you want, where you want it. Just fill them out and put them on abandoned buildings and beyond. The stickers are custom vinyl and they can be easily removed without damaging property. It’s a fun, low-barrier tool to provide civic input on-site, and the responses reflect the hopes, dreams, and colorful imaginations of different neighborhoods. We’ve [also] developed a digital tool calledNeighborland that takes this idea a few steps further to help people come together and shape future businesses and services in their neighborhoods.”