I am actively engaged in academic research regarding benefit corporations, which are a relatively new phenomenon. They are FOR-PROFIT companies incorporated under special state laws that explicitly recognize that these firms have a social benefit purpose beyond simply the financial gain of the shareholders. Thus the firms must also consider the impact of their actions upon other stakeholders, such as employees, suppliers, customers, community and the environment. This opens up many fascinating questions in finance, since one of the basic assumptions of most research in corporate finance is that managers have as their primary duty the maximization of shareholder wealth. Managers of a firm incorporated this way are protected against shareholder action if the firm pursues its social purpose to the financial detriment of shareholders. I am not aware of these type of lawsuits ever actually happening, though, since managers already have fairly wide latitude in considering a wider group of stakeholders (even though it is widely perceived that they do not). The more likely scenario for shareholder action is the sale of the company to an low-bidding acquirer that is socially aligned with the target company. These questions are fascinating fodder for financial research.
The following states have passed legislation allowing firms to incorporate as benefit corporations: California, Hawaii, Maryland, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia and Washington State. Legislation is still pending in many other states. Please visit my Benefit Corporation Legislation Status page for up-to-date state-by-state status of benefit corporation laws. Please refer to the Benefit Corporation White Paper for a full argument for the advantages of this type of corporate structure and enabling legislation.
One of the research papers that I am currently working on measures the cost of capital for benefit corporations. A "working paper" version should be available shortly.
I've collected below the most comprehensive list of benefit corporations available anywhere, as far as I have been able to determine. In addition to the data you see below, I also have much additional data on these firms, such as contact information, demographic information, and some financial information. This information is confidential and cannot be released to third parties, but if you have an idea for a new research project, collaboration is definitely possible. You may copy information from this website as long as you give proper attribution. Links to this page are welcome, no permission required. If you have questions, corrections, or additions, please contact me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Craig R. Everett, PhD Graziadio School of Business and Management Pepperdine University Malibu, CA