Benefit corporation status is a type of legal structure for businesses. It is not a certification, and it is available only in those states which have passed benefit corporation legislation. To become a benefit corporation, a company must incorporate as one in one of the states where it is available. Learn more about benefit corporation requirements.
To be a Certified B Corp, a company must meet high standards of performance, transparency, and accountability as set by the non-profit B Lab, including meeting a certain score on the B Impact Assessment, which measures a company’s impact on its workers, community, and environment. Companies of any size, structure, or location may be certified as B Corporations. Benefit corporations may choose to be certified as B Corporations as well, but there is no requirement to do so. Learn more about the differences between Certified B Corps and benefit corporations.
Benefit corporations are for-profit companies that want to consider additional stakeholders in addition to making a profit for their shareholders. They are not non-profits, hybrids, or charities. Non-profits may not become benefit corporations unless they switch to a for-profit structure.
Benefit corporations must use a freely-chosen credible, comprehensive, independent and transparent third party standard to create their benefit report, but they do not need to be certified or audited by that third party standard. Benefit corporations may choose to be certified by a third party standard as a best practice and as a means to attract capital, but there is no requirement to do so. Learn more about benefit corporation reporting requirements.
The B Impact Assessment, which is used to administer the B Corporation certification, is one third-party standard that a benefit corporation may choose from when developing their benefit report. However, there is no requirement for a benefit corporation to complete B Corporation certification, just as there is no requirement for a benefit corporation to receive any certification.
The community of benefit corporations includes well-known and highly-profitable companies such as Patagonia, Method, and Klean Kanteen. These companies are not only profitable, but leaders in their industries who show how the benefit corporation structure can be used to generate long-term value. While benefit corporations have the freedom to consider other factors alongside profit and may choose to value those other factors above short-term profit maximization, they are not anti-profit.
Any size company can incorporate or re-incorporate as a benefit corporation. Over 1,200 companies have incorporated nationally as benefit corporations, most in the last few years and all since October 2010. Some well-known benefit corporations include Patagonia, Method, Plum Organics, and King Arthur Flour.