In October 2017, Berrett-Koehler published the first book on an entirely new form of corporate governance that just might save the world– the benefit corporation.
First Comprehensive Guide to the Benefit Corporation
Benefit corporations include positive impact on society, workers, the community, and the environment as part of their legally defined goals in addition to profit. This is the first authoritative guide for attorneys and executives to the statutes, rules, and requirements for this growing and radically different type of corporation: Benefit Corporation Law and Governance: Pursuing Profit with Purpose.
An insightful, practical, enriching book for any attorney or executive . . . .
—Margaret M. Foran, Chief Governance Officer, Senior Vice President, and
Corporate Secretary, Prudential Inc.
Corporations today are embedded in a system of shareholder primacy. Nonfinancial concerns—like worker well-being, environmental impact, or community health—are secondary to the imperative to maximize share price. As a result, businesses can “succeed” while contributing to serious problems like climate risk, social instability, and economic decline. This sets us up for failure over the long term, as private enterprise continues to threaten vital resources.
Rick is a thoughtful and assiduous leader pushing the benefit corporation movement forward. With this book, he’s written an indispensable guide for anyone seeking to learn more about the benefit corporation form. Any entrepreneur or executive setting his or her company down a path in pursuit of purpose would do well to pick it up.
—Michal Rosenn, General Counsel, Kickstarter
A New Form of Corporate Governance
But there is a new form of governance—the benefit corporation—that reorients corporations so that they work for the interests of all stakeholders, not just shareholders. There are already 5,000 benefit corporations in the United States, and venture capitalists, private equity firms, and institutions are beginning to invest. This is the first authoritative guide to the rules that govern this new and expanding form of governance.
This book is an excellent study of the evolution of corporate governance and the emerging role of the corporation as a public benefit entity. I highly recommend it to those who want to understand the challenges of corporate governance as well as the opportunities for the corporation to have a meaningful social impact in the global economy.
—Larry Sonsini, Chairman, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati
This book describes the stranglehold that shareholder primacy has on our current legal and financial systems. It also provides a comprehensive description of the alternative. Benefit corporations expand corporate purpose and extend the obligations of corporate managers to include the interests of all stakeholders. Alexander describes the two existing benefit corporation models and details how current relations are transformed when organizations adopt stakeholder governance. He also looks at some unsuccessful precursors to benefit corporations and why they failed.
As the CEO of a public benefit corporation, I really appreciate having a readily accessible, easily understood resource. This book explains both the ‘how’ and the ‘why’ of this new corporate form that will help us transform business and create long-term value for all our stakeholders. I am proud to endorse it.
—Lorna Davis, CEO, DanoneWave, and Chief Manifesto Catalyst, Danone
It’s Not Just for Lawyers
The book is an invaluable guide for legal and financial professionals, as well as interested entrepreneurs and investors who want to understand how purposeful corporate governance can be put into practice.
Important new ideas that can change the world are both misunderstood and fragile. Understanding makes them stronger but alone doesn’t guarantee that they will make the difference they could and should. Benefit corporations are one of those new ideas and one sorely needed if the capital markets are going to contribute to, rather than detract from, sustainable development. Rick’s book elegantly explains this idea to a wide range of audiences, thereby making it stronger. The work he and B Lab are doing makes it stronger still. Thanks to them, I am hopeful that the benefit corporation can be for the 21st century what the traditional corporation was for the 20th.—Robert Eccles, Founding Chairman, Sustainability Accounting Standards Board
This book is the most important book about corporate law in decades, if not ever.
—John Montgomery, Founder, Lex Ultima
The magnitude of the crises impacting our world, and particularly our country, is certainly not disputed—by liberals or conservatives, men or women, African Americans or White Anglo-Saxon Protestants, members of the 1 percent or the working poor. The nature of such crises is also not in doubt—the fact that the climate is changing and negatively impacting the environment, the fact that there is a wider gap between rich and poor in this country than at any time since 1929, the fact that there is a sweeping tide of gun violence, and the fact that the Black Lives Matter movement is needed to address continuing overt and covert discrimination. Rick Alexander clearly articulates the need for a new corporate form to effect the signifi cant change that we so desperately need.
—Suz Mac Cormac, Chair, Social Enterprise and Impact Investing Group, and
Cochair, Energy and Clean Technology Groups, Morrison & Foerster
Alexander’s new book covers both the theory and the practice of benefit corporation law in a practical guide that anyone interested in the subject should own.
—Janine Guillot, Director of Capital Markets Policy and Outreach, Sustainability
Accounting Standards Board
Rick Alexander’s new book takes us through a review of the corporation and its role in society, pointing out some of the structural gaps implicated in the traditional form and making a case for the development of the benefit corporation. As one of the creators of this structure, Alexander is uniquely suited to write this book, and he does so effectively, concisely, and with intelligence.
—Hillary A. Sale, Sullivan & Cromwell Visiting Professor, Harvard Law School
Rick Alexander has written a book that is of great importance to the field of responsible business and the benefit corporation movement. Not only does it succeed in explaining the basis and practical implementation of benefit corporations in lucid and engaging terms, but it also places them in the context of existing corporate law and theories of the fi rm. It does all this in a form that is both accessible to the general interested reader and relevant to the most knowledgeable legal expert. It is therefore a triumph of clear thinking and precise exposition from which we will all benefit immensely.
—Colin Mayer, Peter Moores Professor of Management Studies, Saïd Business
School, University of Oxford
AltSchool was created to advance innovation in education and to improve access to quality schooling. Becoming a certified B Corporation and a public benefit corporation helps codify and support our mission. In AltSchool’s case, delivering a broad social impact goes hand-in-hand with creating a large and thriving business. This book should be a valuable resource for organizations interested in pursuing a more socially responsible way to do business now and in the future.
—Max Ventilla, Founder and CEO, AltSchool