Jay Coen Gilbert, B Lab Cofounder
When we first started taking a closer look at benefit corporations, we were really building off of the momentum that began with B Lab, the nonprofit that pushes for Benefit Corporation legislation and certifies B Corps. Little did we know, we’d be interviewing Jay Coen Gilbert, one of the three cofounders of B Lab, on our blog! We were so excited, we added a few extra questions in today’s interview where Jay tells us about the benefits forming a B Corp brings to society and the environment, and that for all companies, it’s most important to take the first step and see where you stand.
1. What’s the source of your passion and inspiration that drove you into your leading role in the Benefit Corporation movement?
B Lab’s three cofounders, Bart Houlahan, Andrew Kassoy and I (Jay Coen Gilbert), all share a passion for using market forces to address society’s greatest challenges. We’ve worked in business for most of our careers and hope to harness the amazing talent, passion and resources we’ve seen there to make a better world. Ultimately, we founded B Lab to serve those entrepreneurs who are using business as a force for good.
Lisa Fournier, Founder of Norfolk Fair Trade Co.
Lisa Fournier isn’t your average B-Corp business owner. The founder of Norfolk Fair Trade Co., she’s also the author of “The Barnabas Effect,” an entrepreneurial blueprint for communities and entrepreneurs on how to work together to build a stronger and more successful society. It’s not often that we get to interview with business owners turned authors in the B-Corp community and today we got the chance to chat with Lisa on her entrepreneurial roots, the trends she believes will impact benefit corporations, and why her next step forward involves education on stakeholder networks.
With all this “B Corp” buzz in the air, it’s time to get one thing straight: the Benefit Corporation and the “B Corp” are not created equal. The terms are often used interchangeably, and it’s not necessarily wrong to say “B Corporation” or “B Corp” to informally describe a Benefit Corporation either. People understandably confuse the two, since both similarly aspire to cement a social or environmental purpose in a company’s mission and corporate governance structure.
But there is still a key difference between the pair: the benefit corporation is a legal entity recognized under a state’s corporate laws, while the “B Corporation” (or B Corp) is a certification conferred upon a company by a certifying organization. A company can be a B Corp without being a Benefit Corporation – and vice versa – but it’s important to know that while these two sound similar enough at first glance, they actually function fairly differently from one another.