B corps are for-profit corporations that have received certification from B Lab, a nonprofit organization that certifies businesses that meet specific social, environmental, and governance standards.
B corps are distinct from, but may overlap with, the United States legal designation of a benefit corporation (a for-profit corporate entity which in many US states defines a positive impact on society, workers, the community, and the environment as part of the “best interest of the corporation” but does not include any specific certification).
Critics have accused the B crop certification of being a marketing strategy that allows corporations to improve their social, environmental, and governance image without having to conform to any legally binding targets. For example, Nespresso gained B corp status despite its emphasis on single-serve coffee pods and its parent company’s (Nestlé) history of human rights violations.
An academic consensus on the impact of B corp certification is yet to emerge, but empirical studies have suggested that B Corp certification is primarily seen as a way to improve a company’s external reputation with investors, clients and consumers rather than as a way to reshape internal processes which would improve their social, environmental, and governance standards.
In the chocolate industry, several B-Corps have emerged, including Divine Chocolate, Tony’s Chocolonely, PACCARI, and Uncommon Cacao.
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Entry added: August 7, 2023
Verified on: September 14, 2023
John Wagner Givens, Associate Professor
Academic / university faculty
“B Corp Certification and Its Impact on Organizations Over Time,” Malu Villela, Sergio Bulgacov and Glenn Morgan, Journal of Business Ethics, December 17, 2019.
“B Lab Global Site,” B Lab Global, Accessed on August 29, 2023.
“B Corp gold standard may just encourage green-washing, critics claim,” Caroline Bullock, The Times, November 30, 2022.
“Nespresso: Known for Human Rights Violations, Now B Corp Certified,” Anna Canning, Fair World Project, May 5, 2022.
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