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So why do business owners form Benefit Corporations? Why would a General Corporation convert to a Public Benefit Corporation?
In order to answer that, we have to recall that there are still good people in this world, and some of those good people happen to be entrepreneurs, CEOs and board members who founded and/or oversee successful companies.
These people want to do good things, above and beyond employing scores of people. Perhaps an entrepreneur can't sleep at night because he worries about the environment, so he wants his electric car company to educate the public on climate change and what must be done to stop it.
Maybe a CEO was a troubled kid from the wrong side of the tracks, and would very likely have wound up in prison if not for a kind teacher who paired him with an after-school mentor; the two helped him win a college scholarship, irrevocably changing his life and motivating him to become a smart, successful and responsible adult. In turn, he feels inspired to make sure his corporation funds a Big Brothers, Big Sisters chapter.
Public Benefit Corporations exist to undo some of the damage done in the past by callous, money-driven corporations, and to help people take responsibility for themselves, their companies and their planet.
In addition, Public Benefit Corporations are attractive to investors; typically, they are robust companies that provide a solid rate of return while simultaneously improving the course of humanity.
Public Benefit Corporations are also, in general, appealing to consumers, who are increasingly paying attention to whether corporations conduct their businesses ethically and sustainably.
It is important to remember that a Public Benefit Corporation is not the same as a Certified B Corporation. If a company is a Certified B Corporation, it means the for-profit company has voluntarily undergone certification so as to meet certain standards in regard to social and environmental implementations, responsibility and transparency. Paying to certify one's company as a Certified B Corporation is good for business, from a marketing and PR perspective, and good for society as well.
However, the certification is absolutely voluntary and does not guarantee any long-term commitment to social or environmental issues or promises. There is also no way for shareholders or Directors to enforce a Certified B Corporation's pledges to social and environmental improvements.