Friday, September 6, 2013

It's Time for Sustainability to Reach Critical Mass - Benefit Corporations Can Help

(Authored by Reese Nank, APR, Vice Chair of the BCSI, Inc. Board of Directors)

Since the end of the 1960s, when the Ecology movement emerged, the U.S. has cyclically supported then abandoned the ideologies and attitudes of socially conscious living.  Beginning with planetary conservation efforts such as limiting nuclear proliferation, acid rain and deforestation and moving into the broader and less activist umbrella of corporate social responsibility, sustainability has contained as broad a range of topics as it has had levels of support over the last half century.

Finally, in the past few years, an official avenue for businesses committed to sustainable practices has been created in the form of Benefit Corporation legislation (18 states and counting in the U.S.).  Notably, there also are a few other countries with significant efforts in this regard (i.e., U.K., Canada, Australia) and some of these have been consistently active. We at BCSI are optimistic that a real global movement is building and this time will have staying power.

We wholeheartedly support this forward thinking and holistic legislative approach, but the standards for evaluating the performance of these new entities do yet not exist.  To escape judging B-corps by Wall Street standards or by the characteristics of a true non-profit, BCSI is taking on the scrupulous task of creating and establishing appropriate, reasonable and meaningful standards for these businesses.

We invite you will join in our effort to create structure for these brave new businesses.

BCSI’s mission statement is to fundamentally transform how marketplace performance is measured and perceived by business, consumers and investors.  We recognize this is a big, hairy, audacious goal. Content today with applying this mission to all those who venture into the B-corporation arena, our belief is that a new economy will grow and thrive when looking out for the whole of society is an equally compelling business goal vis-a-vis capitalist profit. So, we encourage all businesses to take a cue from B-corps and adopt sustainability standards – ours or their own.

Our hope is that now, unlike efforts in the past, a groundswell of support for B-corps and all that they stand for, will achieve the critical mass necessary for true and lasting change. We believe there is a better way to do business and a better way to measure success.  Isn’t it time the needs of the many truly outweighed the needs of the few?

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