Last week I was eating a sandwich at my favorite bakery, Grand Central, brainstorming topic and framing questions for my thesis when inspiration struck. I had known I was interested in expanding my knowledge and experience of green capitalism, social responsibility, and ethical consumerism. I looked up from a bite of food and saw that on the doors reflection was the large Certified B Corp logo. That was it! I was immediately sure my thesis would examine benefit corporations and Certified B Corp. I knew little to nothing about the certification but knew it addressed two of my most broad interests- methods to address social and environmental impacts from businesses and ethical consumers. A relatively new certification, B Corp certifies entire businesses (not just a product!) on its social and environmental responsibilities. Additionally, the certification works to pass legislation for benefit corporations, which ensures that investors and leaders are legally bound to consider the missions of businesses rather than just profit. In class this week we focused on workshopping our ideas. My partner in this process is taking the Sustainability and Entrepreneurship class with Lewis & Clarks Center for Entrepreneurship and had just finished a class on Certified B Corp. She was able to share resources and contact information for those involved.
I spent most of the week researching the angle of my topic and summary. Broadly, my topic examines if businesses can be a force for good environmental and social practices. Within that, I am evaluation the ‘benefit corporation’ legal status and the Certified B Corp label. My methodology will most likely involve in-person outreach and communication with those on the B Corp board in Portland. In part this is because there are limited academic sources. Within this research though, I am unsure which angel I will take: the reasons for adoption, the rigor of standards, the ability of third-party standards to be adopted by government into law, or the role of ethical consumerism. As we continue workshopping and sharing with our classmates I hope to get a better idea of what focus is most salient.