Liz Umlas Co-authors Stanford Social Innovation Review Cover Story on Human Rights and B Corps

September 15, 2017

This month Croatan Institute senior fellow Liz Umlas and Columbia University’s Joanne Bauer published two articles looking at the human rights considerations of certified B Corporations and benefit corporations, a relatively new form of social enterprise. In the first article, “Do Benefit Corporations Respect Human Rights?,” featured on the cover of Stanford Social Innovation Review, Umlas and Bauer examine the assessment tool of certified B Corporations – the B Impact Assessment (BIA) – and evaluate the extent to which it includes companies’ respect for human rights. They conclude that, despite several promising human rights-related elements, the BIA comes up short, though the B Corp and benefit corporation forms themselves could provide a path to respecting human rights intrinsically if some of their limitations could be addressed.

In the second article, “Making Corporations Responsible: The Parallel Tracks of the B Corp and BHR Movements,” in Business and Society Review, the authors argue that the business and human rights (BHR) movement and the B Corp movement have important things to learn from each other: for BHR, the potential to build intrinsic valuation of human rights into the corporate form, and for B Corps, the importance of measuring and addressing companies’ negative impact on human rights, not just B Corps’ “benefit” to society. So far, however, there has been little cross-fertilization between these movements.

The authors’ aim is to stimulate discussion about corporate structure and human rights both within the BHR and B Corp movements and across the movements. The concept for B Lab, the not-for-profit that certifies B Corps, emerged from a Corporation 20/20 Summit on the Future of the Corporation that the founders of the B Corp movement attended at Tellus Institute, where Croatan Institute itself was incubated.

For more information about our work in this space, please contact Senior Fellow Liz Umlas.