GreenChoice Bank had an exciting first official day of business in 2013, becoming the first bank in the U.S. to register as a benefit corporation (pictured from left, GreenChoice Bank president and CEO, Harold Sherman, and me registering our corporate status at the Illinois Secretary of State's office.) On Jan. 2, GreenChoice Bank was among the first in Illinois to elect the benefit corporation structure – a new type of corporate entity designed to help create high-quality jobs and a more sustainable and inclusive economy. At least thirteen other Illinois companies also have registered or signaled their plan to register.
A benefit corporation is legally required to: 1) have a corporate purpose to create a material positive impact on society and the environment; 2) expand fiduciary duty to require consideration of the interests of workers, community and the environment; and 3) publicly report annually on its overall social and environmental performance using a comprehensive, credible, independent and transparent third-party standard.
Illinois is one of 11 states that have passed a benefit corporation law, which allows businesses to enjoy legal protection to create value for society, not just shareholders, while meeting higher standards of accountability and transparency. Other types of corporations are typically required to prioritize the short-term financial interests of shareholders over the interests of workers, communities and the environment. Similar legislation has passed in Massachusetts, New Jersey, Virginia, Louisiana, South Carolina, Hawaii, Vermont, Maryland, California and New York with strong bipartisan support. Fifteen other states are moving forward for 2013.
GreenChoice Bank believes that by creating valuable social and environmental impacts, while returning value to our shareholders, we are demonstrating that businesses serve a higher purpose and can create a sustainable economy that we are all proud of – an economy that serves the entire community and not just a select, privileged few. By realizing the greater benefit of our choices, we can contribute to an exciting new movement – benefit corps – and by doing this, show that what’s best for the world is also best for business.
Please share your ideas on how to support businesses that are dedicated to the greater good here or on our Facebook page. For a comparison between Certified B Corps and benefit corporations, see our Aug. 30 blog post, “B Corps, Benefit Corps, Better Corps” and for additional background on benefit corporations, including national and local legislative updates, see www.benefitcorp.net. Thanks for your support!