Benefit corporations and B Corp for sustainable development
The normative framework: key features of the emerging B Corp and BC phenomenon in US and Italy
lead a movement: companies join the movement first of all because they believe in it and they want to “use business as a force for good”;
partner with peers: Certified B Corps meet frequently and create a sense of community where opinions and experiences are shared, creating learning opportunities;
benchmark CSR performance: the certification is effective in showing how a company fares against other sustainable organizations, highlighting improvement areas;
save money and access services thanks to the network: B Lab gives the opportunity to get discounts on numerous business services. The savings coming from these relationships more than offset the certification fee (Marquis, Klaber, & Thomason, 2010);
protect mission: often companies’ CSR efforts risk to be thrown away when management or ownership changes. The certification is a tool to reduce this risk by creating some legal and reputational constraints;
differentiate from pretenders: the certification is an official and public statement that recognizes B Corps as truly effective in being socially and environmentally responsible. The certification is a powerful tool to differentiate ‘good’ companies from the ones which are simply ‘greenwashing’;
attract investors: some investors are interested in companies that not only have a solid business, but also have a solid CSR approach (Marquis et al., 2010). In this regard Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) is growing decisively (White, 2015). The certification signals investors that a corporation is worth of receiving SRI;
generate press: the movement is becoming more and more popular, finding coverage on important media outlets i.e. Bloomberg, providing free advertising to all B Corps;
attract and engage talent: most workers are attracted towards workplaces where they can have a positive impact, and are more motivated and engaged if that is the case.;
participate in a campaign: collective B Corp brand campaigns are being launched increasingly more frequently.
BC and B Corp’s transparency and accountability
•Offer of benefits (i.e. health products or healthy foods)
•Educational Business Model
•Fundraising to support social mission
•Protection of the territory or wildlife
•Integrate the mission into corporate structure
Transparency and Accountability
•Share the accountable information with the employees
•Open book management procedure
•Annual report on the organization’s performance compared to mission
•Carry out annual environmental audit to monitor the efficiency of water and energy consumptions and waste production
•Certify the energy
•Create offices and rooms where there are energy efficiency tools (i.e. photovoltaic system, solar panels, energy-saving heating systems)
•consider the interests of customers as beneficiaries of the general public benefit or specific public benefit purposes
•improve customer loyalty by enabling consumers to differentiate good deeds from merely good marketing
•Collaboration to develop social and environmental standards in the field of affiliation
•Disclosure of performance
Mission and involvement
•Engage in corporate mission commitment to social and environmental responsibility
•Training of employees on the social and/or environmental mission
•Evaluation of employees and managers on the goals of the mission
•Ask for external feedback on social and environmental performance
•Place an external member on the board of directors for social and environmental performance audits
•Transparency of results
•Evaluation of product’s lifecycle
•Plan to reuse and recover products
•Encourage suppliers to initiate audits or environmental audits
Emoluments/Wages, Benefits and Retribution/Compensation:
•Payment of adequate salary
•Verify that wage levels are in line with the market
•Offer the same benefits as managers to employees
•Offer a social security plan
•Offer a socially responsible investment option within the supplementary social security plan
•Contribute to the upgrading and vocational training of workers
•Offer resettlement services or a good exit package in case of termination of the employment relationship
•Employee shareholding/Workers Ownership:
•Offer stock option
Quality of work environment:
•Health and wellness program
•Manual distribution for employees
•Conducting periodic surveys on the degree of satisfaction and involvement of workers
•Periodically retrieve employee statistics data on turnover, retention and diversity
•Granting flexible employment opportunities
•Presence of a committee of workers with advisory and supervisory powers in the field of health and safety at work
•Equality and diversity
Creation of new job positions:
•Create new jobs for young and disadvantaged people
•Have an open and mixed board of directors that includes women and ethnic minorities
•Have a team of managers and a staff with diversity
•Civic commitment and donations:
•Offer incentives to employees to organize social service days and/or volunteer activities
•Increase the percentage of employees that participate in volunteering activities
•Agreement to support a non-profit organization
•Be a member of an independent organization that certifies charity donations
•Acquire goods and services from local businesses
•Vendors, distributors and local products
•Make social and environmental performance public
Case study: the ‘dynamic balance’ of Paradisi Srl Società benefit
“We are convinced that we can only excel and be competitive if the territory around us is equally competitive. We have always worked to improve it both from a social and environmental point of view. Certification is the tool that helps us formalize the direction we are going in and gives us increasingly challenging improvement goals, thanks also to the need to compare ourselves with other B Corp situations” (S. Paradisi, President).
“We are increasingly convinced that positive economic performance is closely related to the transparent and sustainable way our company operates daily, tending to balance the interest of shareholders with that of all stakeholders, thus allowing us to continuously seek the dynamic balance of value creation, widespread for our territory” (S. Paradisi, President; Paradisi Integrated Reporting 2017: 7).×
The trigger agent of a “hidden” hybrid purpose form orientation
The shell can also be intended as a metaphor of the company evolution toward the pursuing of further goals, starting from “private” and traditionally profit maximization goals to specific and general public benefits.“In fact that shell has become the symbol of my adult work: to use natural materials and skillfully transform them to draw up everyday objects; to interpret traditions in a new and versatile way; to search for precise and ambitious details with elegant style and meticulous care” (S. Paradisi, Paradisi; Paradisi Integrated Reporting 2017: 35).
Centrality of the customer/client
Respect for people
Environment and local territory
Quality and precision
Innovation and tradition
Paradisi’s BC certification: the annual benefit report - the report on the common benefit
“The spread of a responsible, sustainable and transparent business culture can also take place in collaboration with public and private companies, professionals, organizations and institutions through meetings, workshop, laboratories and public events” (S. Paradisi, shareholders meeting, September 27, 2016).
toBe - Equilibrium and Dynamics of Being Benefit - Jesi 7 October 2016
At the presentation of the Integrated Report 2015, the transformation into a Benefit Corporation was announced and shared at a public event that was a harmonious counterpoint between theatrical readings, stories of virtuous and innovative initiatives.
We have nothing left to sell - Jesi 15 September 2016
A workshop (Genba Talk) addressed to local entrepreneurs and partners aimed to present and share the Paradisi project of “Lean transformation”.
School and University Job Training
Collaboration with the high school (“ITIS Marconi” of Jesi) and training internships and orientations in collaboration with the Marche Polytechnic University.
Initiatives in favor of the areas affected by the earthquake in Central Italy (Marche)
Visit to the Municipality of Pieve Torina December 26, 2016.
The initiative was organized with the other local companies adhering to the ‘Succisa Virescit’ project. A lunch was organized as an opportunity to share with the resident population who remain, the volunteers and the people who bravely resist in several damaged areas facing great difficulties.
Paradisi’s employees voluntarily decided to donate one day of their holiday in favor of the earthquake victims. To reward this test of generosity, the company itself wanted to make its own contribution by doubling the equivalent economic value.
Through networking activities and collaboration with other local entrepreneurs Paradisi contributed to the donation for the building of a new school in one of the most damaged centres (Pieve Torina).
Every year Paradisi gives important donations to the Oikos Onlus Association that since 1990 has dealt with abandoned children, mothers in difficulty and people with pathological addictions from the use of drugs.
I.O.M. & Paradisi
A “friendship that lasts for years” with the Marche Oncology Institute through the collaboration in and financing of numerous research projects.
The formal acknowledgment and assessment of the “shift”: Paradisi B impact report (2016)
Overall B Score
Environmental Products & Services (e.g. Renewable energy, recycling)
Land, Office, Plant
Energy, Water, Materials
Emissions, Water, Waste
Suppliers & Transportation
Compensation, Benefits & Training
Customer Products & Services
Products & Services
Serving Those in Need
Suppliers & Distributors
Civic Engagement & Giving