Stephanie Ryan from B Lab is in Portland today, meeting with various companies and groups, touting a new corporate model: the B Corporation. What’s the “B” all about? Benefit. Not just for the board and executive officers and shareholders, but for everyone. Customers, community, employees, environment.
How’s it all work? B Lab has designed a handful of templates that companies can pick up and use to draw up by-laws, rate themselves, and if they want, become certified as a B Corporation. The benefits, so far? You’re in a select group of 220 corporations, with over $1 billion in collective revenue, from 7th Generation to locals like Shorebank Pacific and Trilibrium, that are walking their green talk.
OK but how’s it going to scale up? The breakthrough will come when the “B Corp” structure is recognized by one or more states, and eventually the feds. The second, and bigger, breakthrough will come when there’s a tax benefit to being a B Corp.
We’re probably not going to see a lot of big, publically traded corporations go this route any time soon, although there is precedent. Corporations have switched classes in the last 20 years. Timber companies became real estate investment trusts. So maybe, if the tax advantages become real, we might see a B Corp included in the Dow. Hey, it could happen. Thirty years ago did we ever think we’d see a company that helps you search (for free!) for stuff on a non-existent “Internet” become one of the world’s behemoths?
What’s this have to do with 350 ppm CO2? Well, assuming your typical B Corp is pretty likely to be striving for carbon neutrality, this might be one of the more powerful ways to hit the mark.