Making Corporations Responsible: The Parallel Tracks of the B Corp Movement and the Business and Human Rights Movement

28 Pages Posted: 25 Aug 2015 Last revised: 2 Mar 2016

See all articles by Joanne Bauer

Joanne Bauer

Columbia University - Institute for the Study of Human Rights

Elizabeth Umlas

University of Fribourg (Switzerland)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: August 24, 2015

Abstract

The business and human rights (BHR) movement shares several goals with the Benefit Corporation (B Corp) movement: corporations respecting human rights; maintaining a “wide aperture” so that all impacts of a company on people and communities are addressed; and creating rigorous standards of conduct and means of accountability. This paper argues that nonetheless the movements are traveling along parallel tracks and thus missing an opportunity for mutual learning that can improve their effectiveness. The BHR movement can look to B Corps for concrete examples of viable companies that value human rights intrinsically and not just as a means to higher profits. The B Impact Assessment, the B Corp certification tool, can better ensure that B Corps are in fact respecting human rights by adopting BHR standards. And both movements must give greater consideration to the potential contradiction between unlimited scaling – a key goal of B Corps – and the ability of large corporations to respect human rights.

Keywords: business and human rights, B Corporations (or B Corps), benefit corporations, BHR movement

Suggested Citation

Bauer, Joanne and Umlas, Elizabeth, Making Corporations Responsible: The Parallel Tracks of the B Corp Movement and the Business and Human Rights Movement (August 24, 2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2650136 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2650136

Joanne Bauer (Contact Author)

Columbia University - Institute for the Study of Human Rights ( email )

91 Claremont Avenue
Floor 7T, Mail Code 3365
New York, NY 10027
United States

Elizabeth Umlas

University of Fribourg (Switzerland) ( email )

Fribourg, CH 1700
Switzerland

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