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Business and Professional Ethics Journal

Volume 35, Issue 1, Spring 2016

Special Issue on Benefit Corporations

David Steingard, Jay Coen Gilbert
Pages 5-15

The Benefit Corporation
A Legal Tool to Align the Interests of Business with Those of Society; An Interview with Jay Coen Gilbert, Co-Founder, B Lab

Jay Coen Gilbert, co-founder of B Lab, discusses his vision for a “new economy” where business is a “force for good.” In this interview, Coen Gilbert provides an overview of how B Lab’s various initiatives—Certified B Corporations, the B Impact Assessment, B Analytics, GIIRS, and Benefit Corporations—function interdependently to accelerate a culture shift to redefine success in business. Coen Gilbert then focuses on the role of benefit corporations in this larger movement. The benefit corporation is a new legal form of business that requires a corporate purpose dedicated to “general public benefit” and the delivery of demonstrable “material positive impact on society and the environment.” Novel fiduciary and reporting requirements differentiate the benefit corporation from the traditional corporation founded on shareholder primacy. Coen Gilbert explains how the benefit corporation is better suited to create long-term shareholder value as well as sustainable value for society, the environment, and other stakeholders. He addresses critiques of and challenges to the benefit corporation as an agent of change for business.

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