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B Corp Handbook Instructor’s Guide Discussion Prompts

Each section includes a series of questions designed to help you review and clarify material for your students; to encourage students to reflect critically on this material during class discussions; and to prompt and guide their written reactions to the Handbook. These questions can be used in different ways: as guideposts for class discussion, as a framework for smaller group discussion and presentations, or as stand-alone, in-class writing assignments


  • Compare and contrast B Corp certification and benefit corp incorporation.
  • What are the characteristics that first come to mind of B Corps? Do you think these are accurate assumptions?
  • Does thinking or talking about diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) make you uncomfortable? If so, what is the fear you have about this topic? If helpful, reference Ryan’s section about what antiracist leaders have taught him about leaning into discomfort.
  • Does Ryan’s argument about why white people should be more involved in racial justice work resonate with you? Why or why not?
  • Do you agree with Ryan’s belief that DEI should be integrated into every aspect of building a better business, not just a side topic? Why or why not?
  • What thoughts or emotions did you experience from Dr. Jana’s story about the dramatic shifts in their life and the urgency they now feel around DEI?
  • What would an inclusive economy look like to you?

View introduction summary, discussion prompts, activities and resources

Section 1: Overivew

  • Describe the origins of the B Corp movement.
  • How is B Corp Certification different from other eco or “green” certifications and reporting mechanisms such as GRI reporting?
  • Where do B Corps fit in the larger sustainable business movement including Conscious capitalism, Sustainability Accounting Standards Board and others?
  • Do you agree with the value proposition for investing in B Corps? Why or why not?
  • Compare and contrast B Corp certification and benefit corporation incorporation.
  • Do you agree with B Lab’s decision to only allow for profit business to certify, excluding nonprofits? Why or why not?
  • Should B Lab allow companies in the oil and gas, cigarette, prison industries to become B Corp certified, even if they meet the certification standards? How about companies that sell beer, wine and spirits?

View section 1 summary, discussion prompts, activities and resources

Section 2: Benefits of Becoming a B Corp

  • Describe the culture of the global B Corp community and specific characteristics of regional networks.
  • Will scaling the B Corp movement help to make access to sustainable products and services more equitable? Why or why not?
  • How do B Corp values align with issues specific to diversity, equity and inclusion?
  • Can you think of other benefits to become a B Corp not described in this section? In your opinion, what is the most important aspect of certification and why?
  • What are some of the barriers to multinationals becoming certified? Maintaining certification?
  • How do you think the benefits discussed in this section are different in a startup vs. small/medium business vs. a multinational corporation?

View section 2 summary, discussion prompts, activities and resources

Section 3: The B Impact Assessment

  • What do you see as the most challenging section in the assessment (workers, community, environment, governance, or customers)? Why do you think it would present a greater challenge than others? Is there a strategy to minimize this challenge? Will this differ by industry, size, or current legal status?
  • Who do you think should complete the B Impact Assessment for a company? Is there a good way to avoid personal bias when making selections?
  • Do you think it would be easier or more difficult for private companies to complete the assessment compared to publicly traded companies?
  • Many organizations have taken the BIA even if they didn’t want to pursue the certification. Why do you think taking the BIA can be valuable for an organization if they don’t pursue the certification?
  • How does the assessment differ in different regions of the world?

View section 3 summary, discussion prompts, activities and resources

Section 4: The Quick Start Guide

  • Identify the key stakeholders within a company to engage in the impact improvement process.
  • What do the authors identify as some areas where the B Corp movement could be better? Does their discussion resonate with you? Why or why not?
  • What ideas do you have for potentially making the B Corp movement stronger and more impactful?
  • What would “success” for the B Corp movement look like in your mind?
  • Critical voices have described the B Corp as another greenwashing effort. How would you respond to this critic?
  • Researchers have also identified a penalty in the short-term growth rates of certifying firms which is more pronounced for the smallest and youngest firms. Why do you think that can be the case? What would you advise to a new company wanting to get certified? (See The Impact of B Lab Certification on Firm Growth, Parker, Gamble, Moroz, Branzei, Academy of Management, 2018)
  • B Corps like TOMS Shoes are not immune to the standard criticisms of social entrepreneurship (white guilt, poverty porn, band-aid, externalities, impact on local industries, dependency building, etc). After reviewing the resources related to TOMS and the Business Insider article, discuss whether these criticisms are merited and how TOMS is working to address them.

View section 4 summary, discussion prompts, activities and resources