The need for a new type of corporation, where profits are no longer pursued at the expense of the employees, the environment and the local community is now reaching a fever pitch. Just last night the Occupy Wall Street protesters were forcibly evicted from Zuccotti Park. Today, protesters across the country march in solidarity – but for what exactly? The power elite has not shown any sign of changing their ways, and the rest of us are left in the cold, without any new change.
I would say this about the Occupy Wall Street movement: it has been a critical first step in creating dialogue about the problem of corporate greed. However it is limiting, and has not yet produced a solution that will guide our country in a new direction. Now that America is listening, it is time for the movement to organize towards solutions that put people back to work, that protect our environment and that require greater corporate transparency and accountability.
I believe that California just may be on the forefront of this critical next step: one that will fundamentally shift the corporate culture. Just last month, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law two new laws that create the Benefit Corporation and the Flexible Purpose Corporation. Starting January 1, 2012, existing and new corporations can elect to govern themselves for a public benefit purpose, with greater transparency and reporting to the public and shareholders.
Consumers are already choosing to spend their hard earned dollars with companies that actively participate in their community, that take responsibility for their impact on the environment and that are voluntarily transparent. These companies are part of an exploding new economy, estimated at 300 billion dollars in the U.S. alone. Corporations which choose to hold themselves to these higher ethical standards will be far more likely to succeed financially over the long term, will enjoy greater consumer confidence and loyalty, and their employees will be more productive because they will know that their work is contributing positively to society.
It is my belief that the Benefit Corporation and the Flexible Purpose Corporation will be a part of the answer to the current corporate culture of greed, that these two new corporate structures will be a positive rallying point to address the sentiment of the 99%, whether you are out there protesting or inwardly hoping for a real shift.
I look forward to being a part of this change, and encourage anyone who wants to know more about how to form a Benefit Corporation or a Flexible Purpose Corporation to contact my office for more information. If you are in the Santa Monica Area, please register for my lunch event tomorrow titled: Social Enterprise: Innovative New Business Structures for People Planet and Profit where I will be talking in more detail about these new options. To learn more, and to register go to: http://socialenterpriseevent.eventbrite.com/