Patagonia Becomes A California Benefit Corporation


Written by Matthew McDermott

On the first day that California-based companies could change their corporate status to become a Benefit Corporation, TreeHugger Person of the Year 2011-nominated Patagonia further put its principles into practice, reregistering last week morning with a new, greener, socially-aware corporate status.

Though a number of other corps (the full list is below) took advantage of the new corporate status in California—passed into law last October and coming into effect on Jan. 1—Patagonia is perhaps the most vocal of the group.

Company founder Yvon Chouinard said in a press statement:

Patagonia is trying to build a company that could last 100 years. Benefit Corporation legislation creates the legal framework to enable mission-driven companies like Patagonia to stay mission-driven through succession, capital raises, and even changes in ownership, by institutionalizing the values, culture, processes, and high standards put in place by founding entrepreneurs.

What’s A Benefit Corporation?
As for Benefit Corporation itself, there are three prime directives: It has to 1) create a material positive impact on society and the environment, 2) expand fiduciary duty to require consideration of non-financial interests when making decisions, and 3) report on its overall social and environmental performance using recognized third party standards. The more technical version of all that is available in a white paper.

In other words, a B Corp has to act like a person with a social and environmental conscience, not the normal sociopathic approach of maximize-profit-for-shareholders-and-screw-the-externalities legally enshrined in corporate law heretofore.

Currently there are six states that enable registration as a B Corp (yellow on the map above) and four where legislation is in progress (dark grey, plus Washington DC).

Joining Patagonia in registering as a B Corp on the first available day were: DopeHut, Dharma Merchant Services, Give Something Back Office Supplies, Green Retirement Plans, Opticos Designs, Scientific Certification Systems, Solar Works, Sun Light & Power, Terrassure Sustainable Land & Resource Development, and Thinkshift Communications.

B Corp Status A Step In Right Direction, If Not The Goal Itself
While alone B Corp status won’t be enough of a transformation of capitalism so that it doesn’t eat the planet, it is certainly a step in right direction, that is, towards rectifying the gross inadequacies of our current growth-fetishized economic philosophy, towards one which takes the not-so-radical step of recognizing that we live in communities, in societies, in a civilization and we ought to be minimizing the negative impacts on our fellow humans and non-humans and working to increase more socially, psychologically and environmentally based measurements of human development and not just short-term individualized profit.

This post was originally published by Treehugger.


Related Stories:

Retailer Says, ‘Don’t Buy Our Stuff’

Patagonia Employees Protest New Dams in Patagonia, Chile

Care2 Success! New York Establishes Benefit Corporations

*Guess who else is a B Corp in California? Care2!

Photo from Dave Dugdale via flickr


Terry V.
Terry V5 years ago

The same as, Inc. is.
I wonder what percent of their profits they donate.

Whitney Larsen
Whitney Larsen6 years ago

Thumbs up for Patagonia®!! Good for them, I support :)

Lynette B.
Lynette B6 years ago


KS Goh
KS Goh6 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Martha Eberle
Martha Eberle6 years ago

I had read about Patagonia last year, and it is wonderful to see corporate leaders caring about the world they inhabit instead of using it up. In these selfish days, when it seems all that corporations care about, is profit at the expense of people and the earth, it renews one's hope that there are others out there working to save the planet too, and with ethical guidelines. I will search for their logo, and buy from them.

Mark M.
Mark M6 years ago

At last, a movement that resembles enlightened corporate think instead of the sociopathic egocentric cliques and cabals that typify these ministries of money infected with the greed-is-good virus. Making money is good; it does in fact create jobs and often even social value. But making money at any cost usually fills neither of these criteria, and too often results in just the opposite. We need only look to Mitt Romney and Bain Capital to see that in action. So it's impressive and inspiring when for-profit enterprises VOLUNTEER to live up to legal standards of social responsibility. Hundreds more could, should and probably will join them, and start to show up and shame the BPBankofAmHalliburtonChevronAIGs of the world that, though not inherently evil, are in effect BAD in the manner of their management, and hardly better than a plague and a cancer on the home of humankind. Go, Patagonia. ORS--Occupy Raising Consciousness.

KARLOLINA G6 years ago


KARLOLINA G6 years ago


Chad A.
Chad A6 years ago

Any moves to alter the situation regarding corporations and their psychotic behavior is commendable, but we need to level the playing field further for cooperatives, small businesses, consumer groups, and labor organizations, too!

Ellen Mccabe
Ellen m6 years ago

Sounds like a great way to list companies.
I love Patagonia for their moral compass, and am happy to find out aboit others that minded.