Taken from BenefitCorp.net :
What is a Benefit Corporation?
A benefit corporation is a new legal entity structure becoming legal in Illinois in 2013 that creates a solid foundation for long term corporate mission alignment and value creation. Investing in a benefit corporation gives impact investors the assurance they need that they will be able to hold a company accountable to its mission in the future. This could aid companies in attracting impact investment capital.
Benefit corporation status gives prospective employees confidence that a company is legally committed to their mission.
A benefit corporation is a traditional corporation with modified obligations committing it to higher standards of purpose, accountability and transparency:
Benefit corporations commit to creating public benefit and sustainable value in addition to generating profit. This sustainability is an integral part of their value proposition.
Benefit corporations are committed to considering the company’s impact on society and the environment in order to create long-term sustainable value for all stakeholders. See IRIS video below on one resource available to measure accountability.
Benefit corporations are required to report, in most states annually and using a third party standard, showing their progress towards achieving social and environmental impact to their shareholders and in most cases the wider public.
Traditional corporations are expected to use profit maximization as the primary lens in decision making. Many now see this as a hurdle in creating long-term value for all stakeholders, including the shareholders themselves. Benefit corporations reject this myopic model. They are required to consider all stakeholders in their decisions. This gives them the flexibility to create long term value for all stakeholders over the long term, and even through exit transactions such as IPOs and acquisitions.
IRIS is one measure of the effectiveness of impact investments helping to measure the impact of the capital investment on the environment and in community stakeholders.
Some Videos on Benefit Corporations: