What The Heck Are “Certified B Corporations”?

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If you are concerned that business has gotten too cutthroat and Machiavellian, and believe you can’t have your ice cream and save the world at the same time, there may be some hope to alleviate your dilemma: Certified B Corporations (1).

What the heck are “Certified B Corporations”?

Well, if their business model (2) holds any truth, they may hold the key to ethical capitalism (3).


The love of money, so says the Bible according to Paul of Tarsus, is the root of all evil (1 Timothy 6:10, KJV).

This pithy statement is a very popular one, though it would seem based on all cultural evidence, is the kind of statement that is thrown about but not often followed.

Take the equally famous ‘Greed Is Good’ sentiment made famous by the fictional Gordon Gecko in the 1987 “Wall Street”. Sure, Michael Douglas’ character was imaginary, but the movie epitomized a bit of irony, as this satire about greed which doubled as a modern Faustian telling of the German fable, raked in over 43 million dollars (4),which adjusted to reflect inflation is a number well over 100 million dollars (5) in present day revenue. Although paltry compared to the over 2 billion dollar figure for the all-time number one movie Avatar,(6)it still is a number that most people won’t see in their lifetimes.

Like global warming, capitalism itself is a subject fraught with controversy, contradictions, paradoxes and irony. People pan it, complain about it, condemn it, castigate it, and venerate it. It seems like without the love of money, there would be no use for capitalism. Else, why would anyone need to make more money than to fulfill their basic needs and perhaps one or two frivolities here and there?

The pursuit of happiness has been so imbued as a natural right that it was codified into the Declaration of Independence (7)by no less a luminary than the third American president, Thomas Jefferson. Yet, was the intention of ‘happiness’ really the pursuit of getting more stuff, as much stuff as you could? Is ‘freedom’ so tied to getting more and more stuff, that ‘freedom’ as defined by capitalist terms really more a long con to get its pursuers hooked on a psychological shell game of their own making?

Questions like these can seem scandalous. The late David Graeber, the anthropologist accredited for being the founding icon of the Occupy Movement, suggested something even more scandalous when he coined a term known as “bullshit jobs”(8). In essence, he posited that some jobs were just too useless to have and should be cut out entirely to save everyone’s sanity and money. But capitalism as we know it, with garnering more and more revenue with no end in sight, needs to have more of these useless jobs to justify its existence.

To continue with Graeber’s theory, if I create tons and tons of jobs (never mind the fact that the company could be more efficient and I could pay my employees a better salary if there were less of them there in the first place), doesn’t it make sense that I can grab billions of dollars to justify my greed and enjoy the tax breaks from ‘creating more jobs’(9), regardless of the usefulness of the job to life in general? The dictum of libertarian hero Ayn Rand’s (10) capitalism suggests that once I become the number 3 richest CEO of the company I want to be the number 2 richest CEO, yes? Did I not deserve all that money for all the jobs I created and all the stuff I made so the economy could hum along soaring in the sky?

In other words, there’s a mentality that maybe Gordon Gecko may not be so fictional at all.

Well, no wonder capitalism gets such a bad rap.

However, what if the problem was not with capitalism itself, but the greed it is naturally associated with?

What if there really could be a concept such as ‘ethical capitalism’ (11)?

Does making money only have to be about rampant uber-individiualsitic ambition, where bloodthirsty competition is justified as the only way we could get the (supposedly) lazy people off their butts?

Does ‘free enterprise’ have to mean that everyone is out for themselves, an Ayn Rand world on steroids?

In other words, do we have to choose between absolute altruism, or absolute greed in order to separate business from ethics?

Enter the concept of ‘Certified B Corporations’, which answers all three questions with a resounding and hopeful NO!

So, what the heck is a ‘Certified B Corporation?’

If you’re anything like me, that’s what I asked when I first heard the term.

The first time I had heard of a Certified B Corporation was when I started working in 2010 with a social media company that was a platform for activists known as Care2. Now exclusively a networking site for nonprofit organizations and a petition site on the order of Change.org, at the time Care2 provided a unique hands-on forum where members could not only create their own petition with the tools to share and promote them, but other incentives as well.

One particular fun (and addictive) feature on Care2 was a hybrid mimicry of Facebook and e-zines, whereby each person’s commentary on relevant articles led to what was known as ‘butterfly points’ which could be redeemed for a kind of credit towards charitable donations such as planting trees, feeding seals, taking carbon out of the atmosphere, or toys and other necessities for shelter pets.

One day, I decided to check out the business model for the company, to verify its transparency and other corporate structures. Expecting it to be a not-for-profit, imagine my surprise when I saw it was considered a term I had never heard of, a “Certified B Corporation”(12).

I had never heard of such a thing. It sounded made up, like a weird wishy-washy term to describe an indecisive company that was trying to straddle both not-for-profit status and corporate status without making a hard choice. Like, a little bit of this and a little bit of that, but really none of anything.

What I found out was that I was half-right. Yes, a Certified B Corporation shares characteristics with both the business that’s out to make as many bucks as possible, and that of the charitable and socially conscious not-for-profit companies many charities are associated with being [the NFL’s former tax-exempt status notwithstanding (13), that is excluding the community owned and not-for-profit Green Bay Packers (14)].

But in a way, Certified B Corporations are more than that. In fact, they may be key in restoring the ethics in capitalism, and maybe the first step to giving the Gordon Geckos with their “bullshit jobs” a nice permanent pink slip.

According to their website, the concept of Certified B Corporations is to create a “global movement for an inclusive, equitable, and regenerative economy”. It basically says, yes. You can make money. You can make a profit.

In fact, a lot of profit. Think Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. Or Patagonia.

Except, in the case of a Certified B Corp, you take your neighbors’ welfare into consideration even when competing or collaborating with them, without turning the whole scenario into a hostile takeover. You might even help them along the way. Imagine that!

In other words, capitalism with a heart. What a concept!

Certified B Corporations are giving hope that ‘ethical capitalism’ does not have to be a special snowflake, or some unicorn everyone imagines but no one sees.

Maybe you can have your ice cream, and save the world while doing it too!

Visit their website for more info:



(1) “Make Business A Force For Good” (2022), B Lab Global Website

(2) “B Lab is the nonprofit network transforming the global economy to benefit all people, communities, and the planet” (2022), B Lab Global Website

(3) “B Corporation: Entrepreneurship Obligation”, written by Dr. Regina Henkel (July 17, 2020), ISPO.com

(4) “Wall Street (1987)”, The Numbers , ©1997-2022 Nash Information Services, LLC

(5) Ibid.

(6) “All Time Worldwide Box Office”, Ibid.

(7) “The Declaration of Independence”, National Archives, The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration

(8) “On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs: A Work Rant”, written by David Graeber (August 2013), Issue 3, The Summer of…, Strike! Magazine

(9) “Do Tax Cuts Create Jobs? If So, How?”, written by Kimberly Amadeo, reviewed by Robert C. Kelly, and fact-checked by David J Rubin (December 30, 2021), The Balance

(10) “Why Are CEOs Paid So Much?”, written by Elan Journo (May 11, 2006), Objectivism And Today’s Issues, AynRand.org

(11) “How to Make Capitalism More Ethical”, written by Peter Bisanz (November 24, 2014), World Economic Forum

(12) “Care2 Team”, Care2.com

(13) “NFL ends tax exempt status after 73 years: 3 things to know”, written by Jared Dubin (Apr 28, 2015), CBS Sports

(14) “TEAM SPIRIT: Who owns NFL team Green Bay Packers?”, written by Aliki Kraterou (February 2, 2022) The Sun (U.S.edition)

Copyright © 2022 Jessica Kuzmier. All rights reserved.

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