Those companies who are becoming benefit corporations are required to select and demonstrate compliance with a particular independent third-party standard that measures their commitment to good business practices, as well as social and environmental performance. The question for associations is - who should be setting those standards for those companies in your industry or profession who want to be benefit corporations?
The answer is - YOU.
Who else should be involved in setting standards for your members? Wouldn't you like to direct your members to standards you have helped develop, have faith in and have endorsed? It is true associations can't set the standards themselves and we believe the benefit corporation statutes are written that way to prevent actual or the appearance of conflicts of interest. But there is nothing saying we can't work together in a collaborative way to set meaningful, credible and transparent standards for benefit corporations and sustainable businesses to use.
We have put forward a submission in the Harvard Business Review/McKinsey MPrize competition explaining the relationship we see between our third sector and these newly created benefit corporations. It's called "Benefit Corporations and the Association Community." Please review and see the case we are making for association involvement in this new sphere. And if you are a member of the MIX (being a member is free and is very beneficial for association executives and staff who want to stay on the cutting edge of management practices) please rate, vote for and share our submission on Twitter and Facebook.
We believe in associations. We believe associations have a chance to bolster their own relevance to their members and become an important part of a new economic landscape. Setting these standards is one key way to do just that..
If your association would like to partner with us to set standards you believe your members should use - please contact us and we would be more than happy to explore that with you. You can visit our website at Benefit Corporation Standards Institute, call us at 916.372.8242 or email me directly at email@example.com.