After the US, Italy was the first European country and the second country in the world to create a new legal status called “Società Benefit” (Benefit Corporation).
Today, more than 475 Italian Benefit Corporations are pursuing the purpose of profit and other specific purposes of common benefit.
To strengthen the system of benefit corporations throughout the country, the Italian Government has provided for the granting, as a “de minimis” measure, of a tax credit amounting to 50% of the incorporation or transformation expenses incurred by benefit corporations. The maximum amount that can be used as compensation by each beneficiary cannot exceed € 10,000.
Some benefit companies are part of the B Corp movement, a model whereby entrepreneurs and managers discover and embrace effective tools to accelerate the evolution of their companies towards sustainable and regenerative paradigms.
According to the first Italian B Corp Impact Report, since 2013, the B Corp movement in Italy has grown steadily, reaching over 140 certified B Corps (2021 figure, +26% compared to 2020). These companies operate in 60 different industries and collectively have a turnover of over € 7.9 billion and more than 15,000 employees.
B Corporations generate value for the economy, people and the environment. This value is quantified through the B Impact Assessment (BIA) tool, a free online tool provided by B Lab. The BIA is the world’s most robust and widely used standard for measuring environmental and social impacts. It gives an accurate picture of a company’s economic, social and environmental performance, taking into account, in addition to the business model, five macro areas: governance, community, people, environment and customers.
Specifically, the BIA tool can valorise
- the positive impact generated by day-to-day activities: good management practices, policies and procedures that the individual company has adopted to ensure, for example, transparent and ethical governance, a healthy and stimulating work environment, diversity and inclusion, and energy supply choices. All these characteristics are reflected in the Operations score;
- the specific approach of a company, which depends on the chosen business model and is an expression of non-ordinary and distinctive practices that create positive results for its stakeholders. The score associated with this value, characteristic of individual companies, is called the Impact Business Model.
There are 10,000 companies in Italy using BIA, 3,600 starting from 2021.
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The Official Register of Italian Benefit Corporations is available at this link: https://www.societabenefit.net/elenco-delle-societa-benefit/
Details of the tax credit incentives Italian Benefit Corporations are available (in Italian) at this link: https://www.mise.gov.it/index.php/it/incentivi/impresa/credito-d-imposta-societa-benefit
The first Italian B Corp Impact Report is available (in Italian) at this link: https://unlockthechange.it/app/uploads/2022/02/Impact-Report-UTC-2021-2.pdf