Businesses around the world are going beyond corporate social responsibility and charitable giving to use business as a force for good. DePaul Industries recently registered two benefit companies, and both of these companies are now Certified B Corporations. Though the terms “benefit company” and “B Corp” are sometimes used interchangeably, they are different forms. Read on for an explanation of the two, and what they mean for DePaul Industries.
Benefit Company – A New Corporate Structure
The benefit company (also known as a benefit corporation) is a state legal corporate structure that has been enacted in 20 states and the District of Columbia. Benefit companies are unique in that they enjoy legal protection to create value for society, not just shareholders, while meeting higher standards of accountability and transparency.
DePaul registered two benefit companies, for our private-sector staffing and packaging divisions, on the first effective day of Oregon’s new benefit company legislation. DePaul Industries remains a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, with two wholly-owned for-profit subsidiaries, joining many other social enterprises in utilizing a hybrid structure. The bylaws of both of DePaul’s benefit companies include our mission of employing individuals with disabilities.
B Corporation – A Third-Party Sustainability Certification
A Certified Benefit Corporation, certified by the non-profit B Lab, is a new type of corporation that uses the power of business to solve social and environmental problems. By voluntarily meeting higher standards of transparency, accountability and performance, B Corps offer a positive vision of a better way to do business.
One of the best ways we’ve seen this certification explained is that B Corp certification is to sustainable business what Fair Trade certification is to coffee, or USDA Organic certification is to milk. Our staffing and packaging benefit companies are now Certified B Corporations.
Why Did DePaul Pursue its Benefit Companies and B Corp Certifications?
The benefit company structure offers significant growth opportunities for DePaul that translate into growth in employment of people with disabilities. Our staffing arm is poised for major national growth this year and beyond – we’ll fill you in on more details soon. And our packaging division is better suited under the benefit company structure to take advantage of international business opportunities. B Corp Certification was a logical next step, and we’re proud to cement our commitment to sustainability in all of its forms, and to join the community of nearly 1,000 other Certified B Corps around the world.