Angela Anderson

Profits Alone Insufficient for Sustainable Success

*** UPDATE 11/17: WOW, now almost 1300 Oregon Benefit Companies – see listing at State Registry ***

_________________________________________

Environment. Social Responsibility. Profitability. While these three concepts may not always be in harmony, popular opinion (driven by technology increasing connectedness and transparency) supports working together to create a more beneficial and wholly sustainable world. More specifically, the “Triple Bottom Line” of concern for People, Profit, and Planet now headlines with “about half of the Fortune 500 companies,” according the University of Texas at Austin, McCombs School of Business. For Oregon businesses, a formal commitment can be made to environmental and social stewardship, known as becoming a benefit company. In today’s increasingly competitive and transparent environment, benefit company status offers differentiation and appeal to like-minded buyers and investors critically necessary for long-term success.

A benefit company takes into account all systems involved and acts in a holistic manner to create a better way of doing business. According to sections 1 to 11 of Chapter 269 Oregon Laws 2013, a benefit company is one that creates profit for its owners as well as creates benefits for the public. These benefits are showcased through positive impacts on the social and environmental aspects in which the benefit company exists. Simply, a benefit company considers effects to members, employees, communities, suppliers and the local and global environment. The goal is to optimize benefit to all these parties, including the general public.

Oregon law also stipulates that benefit companies must include a specific statement in their Articles of Incorporation or Organization as well as meet other requirements. One necessary piece of becoming a benefit company includes certification through a third-party standard which defines, reports, and assesses social and environmental impact. Many third-party standards meet the statutory requirements. According to http://sos.oregon.gov/business/Pages/benefit-company.aspx examples include:

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI).
GreenSeal.
Underwriters Laboratories (UL).
ISO26000.
Green America.
B Lab

In addition to becoming certified through a third party standard, Oregon Benefit companies must write an annual report that demonstrates how the company has acted to create a positive impact on the social and environmental climate. This report is to be made public and explain in narrative and measureable terms, the social and environmental benefit of the company. This report is a comprehensive way to show how the company has demonstrated benefit.

In January of 2014, BESThq LLC joined 28 other firms in becoming Oregon’s charter group of benefit companies. We look forward to creating a positive social and environmental impact through becoming all that a benefit company means and represents. If you have any questions, would like to know more, or would like to partner with BESThq LLC in some way in regards to benefit companies, please contact us at www.BESThq.net or info@BESThq.net.

Angela Anderson

Sustainable Relationships Pave the Way for Success

Sustainable relationships. The modern proverb, “Blood is thicker than water,” begs an age old question of loyalty connected to family (blood) and friends (water). Our lives and relationships, inside and outside of business, frequently get tested by the challenges of life as we journey through the maze of the good, the bad and the ugly. Our most recent economic recession further challenged us as many simply sought to survive, not to mention thrive. So how do we weather the squalls and storms of life while maintaining relationships that will endure the test of time?

When pondering relationships in business, we see many established and larger firms that have been built on decades and generations of relationships. Through the good times and bad, real people inside of these firms have trusted, confided, laughed and, often, cried with other real people both inside and outside of their successful firm. When we look at the time-tested, successful companies in our community, we can examine what they have in common in order to glean tips and tactics for new and emerging firms.

Life-long educator, Rita Pierson of Waco, Texas, provided some clues as she proclaimed that “no significant learning can occur without a significant relationship.” While spoken in the context of kids in a classroom, Ms. Pierson prophetically speaks of empowerment and the profound effect that the support of others can have on someone who needs it. She brings the message home by citing the power of human connection and the difference genuine relationships can make in the lives of others. Thus, new and emerging firms, a recognized critical component of our recovering economy, should take note of these sage words from the classroom. If we, the entire community, desire continued economic expansion we should cherish and foster sustainable relationships at all levels in all of our endeavors.

A guide for achieving these lasting relationships can be found in Dr. Stephen Covey’s “Seven Habits of Highly Effective Leaders.” In his work, Dr. Covey cites habits 4 through 6 as dealing with the Interpersonal Relationships for our Public Victory: success with other people; our ability to get along with others. With these habits, he popularizes our “relationship bank accounts” representing the amount of trust and confidence you have in each of your relationships. Like a real checking account, you can make deposits and improve relationships or you can take withdrawals and weaken it.

So how can we build a rich relationship or repair a broken one? It’s simple . . . one deposit at a time. We find opportunities to make deposits through keeping promises, being loyal, doing small acts of kindness, listening, saying you are sorry and setting clear expectations. Likewise, we must guard against breaking promises, being arrogant, setting false expectations, and gossiping. Ultimately, we can lean on the many virtues of sustainability to guide us in all of our interactions of work, play and family to develop relationships for our success and the success of our community.

While we can rarely be sure of the outcome of testing blood and water in our business world, we can be sure of the positive impact of significant and intentional relationship deposits. Indeed, these deposits sometimes come with a significant price of vulnerability, risk and exposure, yet the benefits, both internal and external, can be extraordinary. Give it a try. Be intentional. Offer it up and you may be amazed at the outcomes.