Hundreds of businesses such as Ben & Jerry's and Patagonia are converting to "benefit corporation" status in seven states. The move allows companies to put social concerns first, which most corporations cannot do without litigation from investors. "It's really important for us to have a designation that we're the good guys," says Jonathan Harrison, CEO of Emerge Workplace Solutions, a low-interest payday-loan provider than plans to register under New York's B Corp statute.

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