B Corp movement should further integrate human rights to achieve goal of transforming capitalism, say researchers

Author: Joanne Bauer & Elizabeth Umlas, Stanford Social Innovation Review, Published on: 16 September 2017

Do Benefit Corporations Respect Human Rights? Fall 2017

The B Corp movement was launched to re-envision the purpose of the corporation, and thereby transform the relationship between business and society... The Business & Human Rights movement seeks to hold all business enterprises accountable for their involvement in human rights harms and to promote corporate respect for human rights... The B Corp movement appears to share several goals with the BHR movement. Both call for corporations to respect human rights; to maintain a “wide aperture” so that all impacts on people and communities are understood and addressed; and to establish standards of conduct, transparency, and accountability... In principle, therefore, both benefit corporations and certified B Corps are obliged to take human rights into consideration, not because doing so will increase profits, but because of their explicit mission to take stakeholder interests into account—and that cannot exclude their human rights... 

Yet until recently, few B Corp proponents seemed aware of the human rights standard widely accepted within the BHR movement, the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs)... Publicly, with few exceptions, B Corp movement leaders do not use human rights language—vocabulary that positions the company’s stakeholders as rights holders to which the company owes a duty of care... The B Impact Assessment... contains the seeds of international human rights standards, which could be expanded and made more explicit to better capture B Corps’ impact on human rights. [refers to Ben & Jerry's, Body Shop, Cadbury, Campbell Soup, Coca-Cola, Danone, Green & Black's, L'Oreal, Stonyfield Farm, Tiffany, Unilever, Walmart, Walt Disney]

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Related companies: Ben & Jerry's (part of Unilever) Body Shop (part of Natura) Cadbury Schweppes (now Cadbury) Campbell Soup Coca-Cola Danone Green & Black's (part of Cadbury) L'Oreal Stonyfield Farm Tiffany Unilever Walmart Walt Disney