How Benefit Corporations have been incorporated into legal structures in different countries across Europe
Back in 2016, Italy became the first European state and the second country in the world to create a new legal status for companies, called “Società Benefit.”
Initially, several Chambers of Commerce initially rejected attempts of B Corps to restructure their Articles of Association. Likewise, Italian public notaries opposed an attempt to incorporate stakeholder considerations into the legal DNA of a company. Ultimately, a new legal form of company was created – the “Società Benefit”- for which the corporate governance rules were modeled after the Public Benefit Statute from Delaware, US. B Lab and its national partners successfully advocated for this legislative effort in Italy and the Association for Società Benefit companies and the B Corp community are actively engaged in promoting this legal option.
The number of Société à Mission – purpose-led companies under French law, also known as sociétés à mission – has jumped by 42% since the end of 2020, latest figures show.
In Spain, some initiatives are in development to achieve the legal recognition of purpose-driven companies (Sociedades de Beneficio e Interés General – SBIC). A Green Paper on Purpose Companies has been published by Fundación Gabeiras, jointly with B Lab Spain. Additionally, more than 50 renowned social leaders in Spain have signed the Manifesto for creating a new sustainable and inclusive business form. Finally, a Change.org campaign was launched to collect signatures to support this initiative. More than 2.000 signatures have been collected in the first week of the campaign. All these initiatives are aiming to share with the public authorities the relevance of the adoption of a stakeholder governance legal form in Spain.
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With the aim of engaging an even broader set of organizations to use business as a force good with the support of the Swiss B Corp community, B Lab Switzerland initiated the Swiss Triple Impact in 2020, a national engagement program. This program helps businesses measure their contribution to the SDGs as well as identify areas of improvement. This program is co-initiated with the Global Compact Network Switzerland & Liechtenstein, and financially supported by the Swiss government (Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation). In this second year of deployment, supported by 35 partners, from chambers of commerce, business organisations and academics, more than +2000 peoples joined the workshop and +200 company started to implement and measure their action towards the 17 SDG goals using B Lab tools.
The Swiss government’s Public Procurement Act sets obligatory sustainability criteria for all of its 27 states. A new federal law on public procurement came into force on January 1st, 2021, where Swiss states define how they implement the pricing, quality and sustainability criteria. B Lab Switzerland successfully got the B Corp certification to be a recognized sustainability label, granting as much as 30% of the scoring in the tendering process.