Oregon unveils new 'socially responsible' business classification

PORTLAND, Ore. -- When you think of the word "corporation" do you associate it with phrases like "positive impact on society and the environment", "social responsibility" and "being a force for good"?

If not, the Oregon Secretary of State's Office and dozens of Oregon businesses are aiming to change that with a newly available business classification called Benefit Companies.

Jan. 2 marked the first day companies in Oregon could apply for the new corporate designation.

What's a Benefit Company? According to the Secretary of State's office, it's a new kind of company legally required to:

  • Create a materially positive impact on society and the environment
  • Expand fiduciary duties to require consideration of the interests of workers, community and the environment
  • Publicly report annually on its overall social and environmental performance using comprehensive, credible, independent and transparent third party standards

Franklin Jones, CEO and founder of B-Line Sustainable Urban Delivery, a Portland-based bike-delivery business, was one of 24 businesses lined up to apply for the new designation Thursday morning.

"Large companies and smaller companies are starting to understand that in order to really be a catalyst for growth, they need to focus on something other than only the bottom line," Jones said.

Several Oregon businesses already participated in a national certification program, but the new state one offers a point-based system that allows a company to prove it's benefiting the community.

The state Benefit Companies program came about as a result of House Bill 2296 which was sponsored by Secretary of State Kate Brown, Rep. Tobias Read, Rep. Jules Bailey, Sen. Chris Edwards and Rep. Shemia Fagan.

Check out the Secretary of State's office website to learn more about Benefit Companies.

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