B Corp Movement Gets Its Wings In Europe
Europe is taking a step toward catching up with the U.S. social entrepreneurship movement with B Corp certification launching in the Netherlands today.
Nonprofit organization B Lab is tasked with issuing these certifications and monitors and measures the contributions companies make to their environment, local community and employees. If a company applies and meets certain verifiable standards, then it can earn certification as a B Corporation.
So far, B Lab has launched the B Corp certification in the USA, South America, Canada and Australia. There are more than 1,300 companies in 38 countries and 121 industries that are certified B Corporations. Big-named corporate leaders include Ben & Jerry’s, Patagonia and Etsy.
The goal is for B Lab to have certified 1,000 companies in Europe by 2017, according to a written statement announcing the expansion. European entrepreneurs are already on their way.
“Since 2014, we’ve seen 60+ European companies successfully certify as B Corporations with another 500 regional companies currently going through the certification process - the movement is rapidly scaling up which is incredibly exciting,” says Marcello Palazzi, who is heading up the B Corp expansion in Europe, in the statement.
The third-party certification is valuable to entrepreneurs in communicating their commitment to giving back to customers quickly. Once a company achieves the B Corp certification, it can put a B Corp “stamp” on its packaging and marketing materials. Also, being a B Corp helps companies attract and retain top talent. Many workers, especially millennials, want to work for a company that has a concrete, tangible program of sustainability and giving back.
While companies have siphoned off portions of their profits to donate to charities for generations, the growth of the B Corp movement represents the desire of the up-and-coming workforce -- millennials -- to work for a company for which “doing good” is a very public and visible part of a company’s business strategy.
In 27 states in the U.S., plus Washington D.C., companies can legally incorporate as a B Corp, an option that provides a company legal protection to make decisions for reasons other than maximizing profit for shareholders. While there are no such options outside the U.S. yet, B Lab is working to offer legally binding frameworks in other countries.Related: The Sharing Economy Is Taking Off: Get On the Rocket or Risk Being Left Behind
Catherine Clifford is senior entrepreneurship writer at CNBC. She was formerly a senior writer at Entrepreneur.com, the small business reporter at CNNMoney and an assistant in the New York bureau for CNN. Clifford attended Columbia University where she earned a bachelor's degree. She lives in Brooklyn, N.Y. You can follow her on Twitter at @CatClifford.