BCorp speaker discusses sustainability

Margaret Ekblom, Senior Writer

Heather Van Dusen, a Senior Associate at B Lab, spoke about B Corporation on March 18. B Corporation, located in Wayne, Pa., assesses other companies on all areas of sustainability. Students who attended the lecture ranged from Managing for Sustainability students to Civil Engineering students, as well as other areas of management.

Van Dusen stressed that companies should succeed in how well they take ownership and how they make an environmental impact.

“B Lab has really changed the game by providing legal protection to those firms who wish to pursue a social agenda,”Associate Professor of Management Eric Martin said.

The purpose of being B-Corp certified is to create a general public benefit and to impact society and the environment together. More than 1,200 companies are B-Corp strong, such as Patagonia, Inc., Ben & Jerry’s, ModCloth, and even Cabot Creamery.

Van Dusen described the benefit corporation scenario with volunteer students. Benefit corporations give legal protections to firms that come into play primarily at the point of sale. If an entrepreneur wants to sell her company, she is required by law to pursue the offer that maximizes stockholder returns. If that same business files as a benefit corporation, that is no longer true. They could select a buyer that more fully reflects the kind of ownership the seller wishes the company to have into the future.

She also described the process by which a company will go through in order to be B-Corp certified and explained three pieces of crucial criteria, namely social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability.

“It was really great to have B Lab here on campus. They represent the kinds of jobs so many of our students want to do good and do well,” Martin said.

The students that attended enjoyed Van Dusen’s enthusiasm towards sustainability and her excitement for how much the subject matters across the board for all businesses.

“Heather was informative outgoing and utterly passionate about her work at B Lab. She gave everyone insights about how to be a force for good when developing a company,” Dannah Strauss ’17 said.

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