*** 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).
Underwriters Laboratories (UL).
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.