Originally posted at Writeindependent.org on January 10, 2012

Benefit Corporations are the new trend in consciousness: corporations that put environment, people, and communities ahead of sheer profit. To register as a B-corp, the CEO, founder, or president must make a trip to the Secretary of State’s office and file the necessary paperwork.

Unlike an LLC, C-Corp or other forms of doing business, B-corps are not forced by their shareholders to sell the company or sell out on their values as they go through the normal ups and downs of growing.

B-Lab, a non-profit organization, is the go-to source for learning about B-Corps. Their website lists the companies who have met standards, such as a stated social or environmental mission, and a fiduciary duty to take into account the interests of workers, the community and the environment in addition to its shareholders. Their annual report must include independently verified reports on social and environmental impact along with their financial data.

California is the sixth state to recognize B Corps; Maryland was first to accept their paperwork in April 2010. There are now several hundred B Corps throughout America, with the better-known being Seventh Generation and Patagonia.

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