The B Corp community is currently made up of over 2,100 companies in 50 countries. While each company is unique, they share one unifying goal: “Using Business as a Force for Good.” In Colorado, the B Corp community has grown from around 30 in 2014 to close to 100 today. Having such a strong concentration of B Corps has allowed the Colorado B Corp community to create a somewhat circular, and increasingly successful, marketplace.
Once known primarily as an oil- and gas-based economy, Colorado has become a magnet for companies focused on new technologies, alternative energy, LOHAS (lifestyles of health and sustainability) products and services, social enterprise, regenerative agriculture, brewing & distilling, creative services, and healthcare, among others. Through the Colorado B Corp Champions Committee and other event-specific committees, B Lab engages these growing companies through community outreach events; educational seminars and leadership training; days of service for nonprofits; purely social events; and university partnerships.
In essence, B Corps in Colorado are working not only toward their own success, but to both directly and indirectly contribute to the success of other B Corps. Our law firm, for example, has been engaged by B Corps that are also hired by other B Corps to provide services and/or products. Thus not only money, but also mentorship, products and services flow both ways in the B Corp supply chain.
A primary reason for this dynamic is that these companies all know, because of the high threshold for ESG metrics measured by B Lab to “certify,” that these partners hold, at a minimum, very similar business values. In addition, many B Corps offer other B Corps (and their employees) special discounts on products or services. Especially with larger B Corps, such as Ben and Jerry’s (which sources their brownies from fellow B Corp Greyston Bakery), ensuring continuity of mission in the supply chain has been important. Therefore, these B Corps and others actively encourage other companies in their supply chain to certify.
The ripple effect isn’t only seen at a company level. As one of a handful of B Corp law firms, and the largest in Colorado, we consistently get resumes from candidates who cite our being a B Corp as one of the reasons they want to work for us. It is an outward-reaching symbol of values alignment. Studies have shown that candidates are increasingly choosing a workplace that takes people and planet into account (in addition to profit) over a potentially higher starting salary. Many B Corps in Colorado are ESOPs or Co-ops, as well, which give employees both ownership and a governance voice in the company. These employees are also consumers, choosing B Corp products over others when given a choice. Many B Corps (ours included) offer discounts to other B Corps and their employees, which also encourages B Corp-centric consumerism. For example, I buy King Arthur flour, primarily because they are a B Corp, even though there are plenty of cheaper, similar products on the grocer’s shelf.
The B Corp movement in Colorado has also extended to government initiatives. B Lab, together with B Corp attorneys and others in Colorado, successfully lobbied to get benefit corporation legislation passed in the state, allowing corporations in Colorado to elect to take all stakeholders’ interests (not just shareholders’) into account when making business decisions. B Lab is also currently engaged with the City of Denver to launch a “Best for Colorado” campaign, to encourage more Colorado businesses to take the B Impact Assessment and work to improve their business as a “force for good” (regardless if they actually certify as a B Corp). By making these small, but collective, ripples, Colorado B Corps are making waves of change to how business is done in Colorado.
The “B” Basics
The “B Impact Assessment” has been developed by the nonprofit corporation B Lab to measure metrics that “matter” — a set of environmental, social and governance (ESG) questions that are somewhat tailored depending on a company’s size and industry. Becoming a B Corp requires scoring at least 80 points on the initial Assessment (and recertifying every two years); paying an annual fee to B Lab; and, in certain instances, being audited by B Lab, who work to ensure assessment answers match reality. This process is not only being used to certify companies as B Corps, it is also serving as a tool by many investors as part of their due diligence process.
Moye White offers strategic representation in complex commercial transactions and disputes. Our clients range from entrepreneurs and startups to mid-sized and established corporations, organizations, and associations.
Patricia Rogers is Co-Chair of Moye White’s Business Section, Co-Chair of the firm’s Financial Institutions Group and a leader in the firm’s Impact Investment and Social Entrepreneurship practice. Trish also works with a number of national and regional nonprofits with regard to program related investments, capital raising and governance matters.