Southern Bancorp, Inc., the holding company of Southern Bancorp Bank, announced Thursday (Oct. 10) that it has officially become the first Certified B Corporation (B Corp) headquartered in Arkansas. Through a rigorous assessment, the B Corp Certification shows that Southern meets the highest standards of social performance, transparency and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.
“We’re proud to be the first Arkansas-based company to become certified as a B Corp,” said Darrin Williams, Southern Bancorp, Inc. CEO. “There is a growing worldwide recognition that society’s most challenging problems can’t be solved by government and non-profits alone. For profit businesses must not only maximize shareholder profits, but they must also work to reduce income inequality, lower poverty rates, and support a cleaner environment and stronger communities. We are excited to help this worldwide movement take root here at home.”
Certified B Corporations are legally required to consider the impact of their decisions, not only on their employees, customers and shareholders, but also on the broader community and environment. From the B Corporation website, “B Corps are accelerating a global shift to redefine success in business and build a more inclusive and sustainable economy.”
In order to maintain its certification, a B Corp must meet the minimum B Impact Assessment score and get recertified every three years. The assessment covers five impact areas of business: governance, workers, community, environment and customers. Among the more than 2,500 Certified B Corps around the world are notable companies such as Patagonia, Warby Parker, Seventh Generation, Ben & Jerry’s, and Etsy.
In 2017, Southern Bancorp, Inc. changed its legal structure to become a Benefit Corporation, which ensures that the company is legally empowered to pursue societal impact alongside profit. Additionally, all three of Southern’s associated companies (Southern Bancorp, Inc.; Southern Bancorp Bank; and Southern Bancorp Community Partners) are certified Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) based on their financially underserved target markets. Southern Bancorp is also a proud member of the Global Alliance for Banking on Values, which consists of nearly 60 financial institutions from around the world who commit to a values-based approach to banking that balances profits with purpose, people, and the planet.