published on June 26, 2019
Kathleen Wilburn, Ralph Wilburn
An Analysis of Social Benefit Reporting
More than half of the S&P 500 and the Fortune 500 companies publish corporate social responsibility (CSR) reports. CSR is at the heart of a new form of corporation, the benefit corporation, which requires the pursuit of a social purpose as well as pursuit of profit. Thirty-four states, plus the District of Columbia, have enacted benefit corporation legislation. Most laws require that benefit corporations publish reports on their social purpose performance using a third-party assessment format. The purpose of this paper is to analyze 1,530 benefit corporations identified by B Lab and the state of Minnesota for proof of social purpose performance, as demonstrated in reports on their websites. The study found some companies with excellent reports, but those had had a CSR focus prior to becoming benefit corporations or had been Certified B Corporations. However, most benefit corporations in the study had no published reports; many have no websites.