The Uncommon Life

UncommonGoods Goes to Washington

September 23, 2010

Yesterday, I was part of a panel discussion sponsored by at the Social Investment Forum in Washington DC to talk about sustainability and business.

Our panel was moderated by Paul Hilton, Director of Sustainable Investment Business Strategy at Calvert and included Andrew Kassoy, co-founder of B Lab, and New York State Senator Daniel Squadron.

We talked about the role of benefit corporations (a new legal form of company that has a social mission, as well as a goal of making money) and the impact public policy can have on these businesses. B Corporations, which include Method, Seventh Generation, King Arthur Flour and UncommonGoods, must receive a passing score on a rigorous, comprehensive list of sustainable practices. I spoke about how the B Corporation audit encouraged us to make changes, such as extending medical benefits to family members, implementing energy saving measures, investing more in learning opportunities for our team members, providing incentives to bicycle commuters, and formalizing our whistleblower and flexible work schedule policies.

Andrew discussed how his team succeeded in getting legislation passed establishing benefit corporations in Maryland and Vermont. He also discussed State Senator Squadron’s leadership in gaining 60-1 passage in the New York Senate, leaving it in the hands of the Assembly. Similar legislation will be introduced in a number of states in the coming months, including a number of states that tend to be more conservative, as this is an issue that should be truly bi-partisan – it merely provides owners with the choice of establishing their business under this type of legal framework.

If you want to see this happen in your state, reach out to Andrew Greenblatt at B Lab: agreenblatt(at)bcorporation(dot)net.

We’ll be keeping you posted on our progress.

– David Bolotsky

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