The Nation had a nice little article explaining the new Benefit Corporations. Author Jamie Raskin explains, in a nutshell
The new laws permit companies to join the profit motive with the purpose of making a “positive impact on society and the environment.” In their articles of incorporation, Benefit Corporations declare their public missions—things like bringing a local river back to life, providing affordable housing, facilitating animal adoptions or promoting adult literacy. Under the law they must go regularly before a third-party validator like B Lab, the visionary Philadelphia-based alliance of more than 400 so-called B Corps across the country, to prove that they are not only meeting their goals but treating their employees, customers, communities and local environments with the same respect as their shareholders. Benefit Corporations can lose their B Corp title and their legal status for not doing right by these standards.Why would a corporation choose such a constricting form? Think about companies such as Ben and Jerry's or King Arthur Flour, which have had a history of social responsibility. Shareholder litigation can be a threat to a company that wants to put other issues ahead of profit motives. Formation under the B Corp law would protect a company from such liability. And incorporating under the B Corp model instantly signals the company's brand and intention.
Here is a link to a site that is keeping a nice list of the states that have passed or have pending B Corp laws. It's a nice site with lots of other features. It includes an "Annual Report" with statistics on the numbers of B Corps being formed nationwide, the growth and profits generally, and other methods to measure the impact of investing. The website lists the five top reasons to become a B Corp, and include items attractive to traditional business people as well as to dreamers:
1> Increase Profits
2. Attract Investors
3. Generate Press
4. Preserve Mission
5. Build a Movement