There Is a Way! Beyond the Big, Bad Corporation
The Social Enterprise Alliance defines these organizations as “businesses whose primary purpose is the common good. They use the methods and disciplines of business and the power of the marketplace to advance their social, environmental and human justice agendas.” And one of the defining characteristics is that “The common good is its primary purpose, literally ‘baked into’ the organization’s DNA, and trumping all others.”
Here’s an example. Remember Working Assets? Starting out as a progressive-minded credit card company in the ’80s, it added phone service — first long-distance in the ’90s, then cellular in 2000 — and now it has created the subsidiaryCREDO Mobile. The company operates as a for-profit business, which is privately owned, with most of the employees owning the stock, so it doesn’t have to bow to Wall Street pressures. They use their profits to help support causes they believe in — so far the amount of money donated is $70 million and counting.
Social enterprises can also be nonprofits, like Goodwill Industries, which last year turned donations from 79 million people into revenue that provided job training to 4.2 million people. And by reselling donated clothing, furniture and household goods, they divert an estimated 2 billion pounds from landfills every year.
The idea of social enterprises is catching on in the business world in the U.S. with the emergence of Benefit Corporations, also known as B Corps, which are designed, “to create a new sector of the economy which uses the power of business to solve social and environmental problems.” B Corps are all for-profit companies that have legal structures mandating that the company is designed to work not for maximum shareholder gain, but for the good of society and the environment.
Interested? For the rest of this provocative article, see: http://www.alternet.org/story/155339/there_is_a_way%21_beyond_the_big%2C_bad_corporation?page=entire