Why B Corps Matter

It's time for capitalism to evolve from a model of short-term profits for a few to a model of shared and enduring prosperity for all.


| Fall 2014



B Corporation logo

B Corp certification turns the ambiguous concepts of "going green" or "being a good corporate citizen" into something tangible and measurable that people can easily identify, trust, and support.

Illustration courtesy B Lab

(Editor’s note: Utne Reader is published by Ogden Publications, which is proud to be a Certified B Corporation. The following excerpt explains what it means to be designated a B Corporation, and how the model benefits everyone involved.)

I first found out about B Corporations while baking cookies. The flour I was using—King Arthur’s unbleached all-purpose flour—had a Certified B Corporation logo on the side of the package. “That seems silly,” I thought. “Wouldn’t you want to be an A Corporation and not a B Corporation?” The carton of eggs I was using was rated AA. I was obviously missing something.

An online search revealed that the B logo was not a scarlet letter for second-rate baking products. B Corporations, I found, were part of a dynamic and exciting movement to redefine success in business by using their innovation, speed, and capacity for growth not only to make money but also to help alleviate poverty, build stronger communities, restore the environment, and inspire us to work for a higher purpose. The B stands for “benefit,” and as a community, B Corporations want to build a new sector of the economy in which the race to the top isn’t to be the best in the world but to be the best for the world.

Since my cookie-inspired discovery, I have watched the B Corp movement grow rapidly and globally. In addition to King Arthur Flour, big-name B Corps include companies like Ben & Jerry’s, Cabot Creamery, Dansko, Etsy, Method, Patagonia, and Seventh Generation. There are now Certified B Corporations in more than 30 countries around the globe, including Afghanistan, Australia, Brazil, Chile, Kenya, and Mongolia (to name a few). Thought leaders such as former president Bill Clinton and Robert Shiller, the winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize in Economics, have taken an interest in the B Corp movement. Inc. magazine has called B Corp certification “the highest standard for socially responsible businesses,” and the New York Times has said, “B Corp provides what is lacking elsewhere: proof.”

In a time of unfortunate political gridlock, the B Corporation is an idea that has generated incredible bipartisan support. In the United States, legislation to create benefit corporations—a new corporate structure based on the B Corp idea—has been passed in “red” states like Louisiana and South Carolina, “blue” states like California and New York, swing states like Colorado and Pennsylvania, and even in Delaware, the home of corporate law, where more than 63 percent of the Fortune 500 are incorporated. It is not hard to see why this idea receives strong bipartisan support. B Corps are pro-business, pro-environment, pro-market, and pro-community.