Every company's employee handbook should contain certain foundational content, such as a discrimination policy, a code of conduct, and an employment-at-will provision. The same is true for benefit corporations. Benefit corporations, however, should consider augmenting the usual foundational content with provisions that emphasize their unique place in corporate law. By doing so, the benefit corporation seizes an excellent—and probably critical—opportunity to shore up its commitment to the triple bottom line of people, profit, and planet.
There are a number of ways to approach this opportunity. For example:
- The benefit corporation should consider including a tailored mission statement. Traditional mission statements often emphasize quality, customer service, value, and innovation. The benefit corporation's mission statement should couple these traditional elements with an emphasis on the company's commitment to social impact and environmental stewardship. An appropriate mission statement should demonstrate how the benefit corporation will use the power of its business to grow its triple bottom line.
- The benefit corporation should consider adding provisions to the code of conduct that transform the company's aspirations into employee-level obligations. For instance, the benefit corporation's code of conduct could require employees to complete triple-bottom-line training, or to speak up when they notice workplace conditions that are inconsistent with company values. It might also require employees doing business on the company's behalf to first seek out like-minded entities.
- The benefit corporation should consider including employee benefits that enhance the triple bottom line. For example, the company might offer special recognition for employees' involvement in charitable activities; paid time off to vote and participate in jury duty; special perks for bone marrow- and organ donors; or bonuses for employees who identify techniques to reduce waste. Creative thinking on this front fosters a healthy and self-perpetuating relationship between profit, people, and planet.
A thoughtful, well-crafted employee handbook cements the triple-bottom-line culture at ground level, potentially reducing the threat of benefit enforcement proceedings and other litigation. Extra attention in this area is worth your while.
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