Legal Disclaimer: This document is for information only. It does not constitute legal or other advice. Each prospective B Corp should consider taking independent legal advice on the meaning and adoption of the Legal Requirement in the context of their particular circumstances.
Legal requirement for companies incorporated in the Netherlands
B Lab Europe together with its partners and local attorneys have identified language that creates new regulations to be part of the bylaws of Dutch B Corps.
Companies wishing to become a Certified B Corp in the Netherlands will need to have or adopt governing documents which include a commitment to a 'triple bottom line' approach to business.
In practice, for a typical business, this is likely to mean having an objects clause which states that it exists to promote the success of the business for the benefit of its shareholders but also to have a material positive impact on society and the environment.
The governing documents of B Corps will also need to state that the board members of the company need to consider a range of 'stakeholder interests' - including shareholders, employees , suppliers, society and the environment - when making decisions and, critically, that shareholder value is not the supreme consideration but is one factor amongst the many stakeholder interests which board members need to take into account when running the business.
With the adoption of those regulations in the bylaws of B Corp companies, it is pointed out that the board of directors have to take the B Corp goal into account in their decisions. This way, the B Corp goal can standard be part of the agenda of board/management meetings, leading to a routine where the meeting's minutes will show how this has been taken into account in business decisions.
The following language should be used by both Besloten vennootschap (BV) and Naamloze vennootschap (NV)
Amendment to the company object
“Een van de doelen van de Vennootschap is door middel van haar bedrijfsvoering en activiteiten, een significant positieve invloed te hebben op de maatschappij en het milieu in zijn algemeenheid.”
Amendment to the articles of association in the chapter regarding Directors
"Bij hun besluitvorming zullen de bestuurders ook rekening houden met de sociale, economische, juridische of andere gevolgen van de bedrijfsuitvoering van de Vennootschap ten aanzien van (i) de werknemers, de dochtermaatschappijen en leveranciers (ii) de belangen van de klanten van de Vennootschap en haar dochtermaatschappijen, (iii) de gemeenschappen en de samenleving waarin de Vennootschap, haar dochtermaatschappijen en leveranciers hun bedrijf uitvoeren, (iv) het lokale en globale milieu en (v) de korte en lange termijn belangen van de onderneming."
Amendment to the articles can be amended with shareholders’ resolution with a majority vote or other threshold if specified.
For further clarification, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More information can be obtained from B Lab Europe. B Lab Europe will soon organize workshops on this topic and offered to Dutch B Corps and the wider public.