Businesses Working for People, Planet (and Profit)

Last summer, Governor Kitzhaber signed House Bill 2296 into law, which created a new business type in Oregon: the Benefit Company.

What Is a Benefit Company (“B-Corp”)?

A Benefit Company, or “B-Corp,” is a corporation that legally institutes social goals beyond financial profits for its stockholders. Traditional companies are judged only by shareholder return, while B-Corps emphasize social values in addition to shareholder return – such as reduction of carbon footprint, serving the community, diversity goals, and others.

A B-Corp is not a new business structure but rather a new way of thinking about business.  It is a designation of existing business types (like LLCs, S-Corps, and C-Corps).  In the words of Kate Brown, Oregon Secretary of State:

“The Benefit Companies legislation allows companies to define themselves by more than just the dollar amount per share, but instead by what they hope to achieve.”

Why Become a B-Corp?

Onward Oregon encourages entrepreneurs in our state to convert their existing business into a Benefit Company, and members who patronize locally-owned businesses to encourage those businessses to convert.

As James Surowiecki wrote in the New Yorker last month,

Becoming a B-Corp raises the reputational cost of abandoning your social goals. It’s what behavioral economists call a “commitment device”—a way of insuring that you’ll live up to your promises.

Steps to Becoming a B-Corp in Oregon

Onward Oregon followed the steps listed on the Oregon Secretary of State’s website to file our application. We were approved as a Public Benefit Company with Members earlier this summer!

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Read ORS 60.750 – ORS 60.770​​ and decide if becoming a B-Corp is a good option for your company or organization.
  2. Adopt a resolution in your company’s articles of incorporation or organization that says your corporation or LLC is a benefit company subject to ORS 60.750 – ORS 60.770​​.
  3. Adopt a third-party standard by which to be judged.  One list of such standards is available here (we chose B Impact Assessment).
  4. Prepare an annual benefit report identifying:
    1. The actions and methods you used to provide a general or specific public benefit.
    2. Any circumstances that hindered or prevented a benefit.
    3. How well your company met or exceeded the third-party standard.
  5. ​Distribute the annual benefit report to your owners and post it on your website (ours is here).

Due to a busy summer for our Board, we’re still finishing the process of becoming a Certified B-Corp by B Impact Assessment, our third-party standard. But thanks to YOUR ACTIONS over the past year, we are confident we’ll pass with flying colors.

There are already 75 companies in Oregon that have become certified B-Corps.  Entrepreneurs and business owners, consider adding YOUR company to that list.

Become a B-Corp — Let’s make a sustainable business culture part of the Oregon Experience.  We can be a model for business responsibility!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *