by Edward Gerdes on June 19, 2015
On April 22, Café Yumm! issued its first ever Benefit Company Report. The twenty-one page report highlights our strengths and weaknesses in three broad categories: Healthy Food; Healthy People; and Healthy Environments. This milestone for Café Yumm! was appropriately released on the same day as the 35th annual Earth Day Festival.
After releasing the Report, and as I have talked to people about it, I have realized that many people are confused about the difference between a B-Corp and a Benefit Company.
A B-Corp is a registered trademark of B Lab, a national non-profit organization. B Lab certifies as compliant with pre-designated criteria established by B Lab. For a fee, B Lab will recertify the company each year and allow use of their name by the certified company. Read more at bcorporation.net.
By comparison, a Benefit Company is a legal construct, adopted by the state legislature which authorizes certain entities to register in this special corporate form. Several legal requirements must be met to receive the designation, but the most important is that the company must identify, articulate, and adhere to a public benefit, thereby justifying its existence. Café Yumm! has identified the Triple Bottom Line of business management as its public purpose.
Triple Bottom Line management goes to the heart of what a company is meant to do. Historically, companies exist to maximize profits for shareholders. This focus on profits at the expense of all else has led some companies to make appalling decisions (using DDT as a pesticide, giving away Nestle’s infant formula to new mothers, refusing to recall the Chevrolet Corvair, and training inadequately paid employees to apply for food stamps, are but a few examples).
Rather than maximizing profits, Triple Bottom line companies balance profit making against social considerations, and environmental degradation issues. Although it might be more profitable to avoid recalling a defective car, a Benefit Company would not choose to injure people to preserve profits.
Balancing people, places, and profit has been part of the mission of Café Yumm! since the first store opened in 1997. Our stated Mission naturally led us to register as one of Oregon’s first twenty-nine Benefit Companies on January 2, 2014, as acknowledged by then Secretary of State, now Governor Kate Brown as being the first companies to register under the historically compelling new corporate law. Each year, Benefit Companies must prepare and provide to the general public a report about what they did during the previous year to meet their public benefit. In this way, Benefit Companies are unique, transparent, and accountable. You can read Café Yumm!’s entire report here.
More and more, people are realizing and thus rejecting a single-minded focus on making profits. This rejection of profit maximization explains why at the time of this writing there are 509 registered Benefit Companies operating in Oregon. Café Yumm! is proud to be a member of this elite group of companies in promoting a new paradigm of corporate responsibility. I encourage you to support Benefit Companies, read the good things they are doing, and educate others about them. The Secretary of State posts a complete list of Oregon-based Benefit Companies at this site.