What is a B-Corporation?: 5 reasons Azavea became one - Technical.ly Philly

Sep. 7, 2012 2:06 pm

What is a B-Corporation?: 5 reasons Azavea became one

This report is done in partnership with Temple University’s Philadelphia Neighborhoods program, the capstone class for the Temple’s Department of Journalism. You’ve heard of the B-Corporation idea, certified businesses that put a priority on impact alongside profit. But let’s look at why you’d want to take on more oversight of your company. The national label, […]

This report is done in partnership with Temple University’s Philadelphia Neighborhoods program, the capstone class for the Temple’s Department of Journalism.

You’ve heard of the B-Corporation idea, certified businesses that put a priority on impact alongside profit. But let’s look at why you’d want to take on more oversight of your company.

The national label, given to more than 600 firms in recent years and certified by B-Lab, the Berwyn-based nonprofit, is for for-profit corporations that, as B-Lab staff like to say, “use the power of business to solve social and environmental problems.” (Keep in mind, that there is also a growing number of states that are creating legal tax statuses for benefit corporations, which is a separate, but related idea.)

Robert Cheetham, the CEO of Callowhill GIS shop and early B-Corp adopter Azavea, spoke Thursday at incubator Venturef0rth about why he made the jump.

Azavea became a B-Corp after a long lawsuit about a trademark issue, which led to the company eventually having to change its name. Cheetham described the B-Corp status as a “good housekeeping stamp” on Azavea’s name change after the company had struggled through the lawsuit.

“We had always taken on projects that had a social benefit,” Cheetham said.

Robert Cheetham

During the event, Cheetham described the process that Azavea -– and all companies – has to follow in order to be a B-Corp. The process starts by taking a B-Corp Assessment online, which is free. Cheetham said the test could take around four to five hours and must be retaken every two years.

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“They basically don’t want you to slack off after you take it,” Cheetham said.

After a corporation completes the assessment, they must schedule a review with a B-Lab staff member to review the assessment, to clarify any questions on the exam and to help you complete the B-Corp application process if the company qualifies.

So why should a company be interested in becoming a B-Corp?

Cheetham listed five core reasons that Azavea is a B-Corp and why other companies should consider becoming one:

  1. It helps with recruiting (9 out of 10 interviewees listed Azavea’s B-Corp status as why they were interested in the job)
  2. It helps with attracting a particular style of investors to a company,
  3. It helps with a company’s growth and success by way of developing loyal supporters
  4. It allows a company to give back to its community by inserting mission into the profit model.
  5. It allows a company to do things that matter by broadening its required output.

For more information on the B-Corp process, check out www.bcorporation.net.

Companies: B Lab
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