Greyston Bakery, a long-standing model of social enterprise based in New York, published their first annual Benefit Corporation Report, a worthwhile read. They’ve been in business since 1982 and in those thirty years have grown into a corporation generating over $10 million in revenue, funding their strong social service programs, developing
meaningful community programs and partnering with other social enterprise, like Ben and Jerry’s! They were the first benefit corporation in New York state, and are a Certified B Corp as well. They’re a powerful force and in their words: bakers on a mission. You might say they do good by tasting good…
They used this report to share their impact with their stakeholders, showing how their mission to create social impact makes a genuine difference in their community. They’ve lived and thrived by making their values the primary way they conduct business and have grown into success as a result. Part of what makes this report so interesting is how they set out to define what impact is and how they are working to make that happen. If you don’t tell it, customers don’t know it.
SPC flexibility does not mean that you get to pick and choose what shade of green you are. It does mean that you can—and should—put forward a measurement of what your business delivers.
Ariel Hauptman, Greyston Bakery’s business development manager wrote in this article at Triple Pundit on how other businesses might shift to social enterprise. He writes, “doing good is not just an aspiration, it’s a formula for how businesses address social challenges, just like any other business challenge.” Ultimately, whatever path your business takes for success, you must know what is integrated deep into your business plan. Here in Washington State, incorporating as a social purpose corporation allows your business to do that: establishing clear goals for the business so that your organization integrates the concept of sustainability into every business decision.
Social Purpose Corporations offer flexibility in declaring what your impact is, and as Hauptman puts it, “At the end of the day, customers, employees and investors will all measure a business by what it delivers.” It’s crucial that you put forward what your business will deliver with honesty and transparency. Flexibility does not mean that you get to pick and choose what shade of green you are. It does mean that you can—and should—put forward a measurement of what your business delivers. You don’t need to check off standardized boxes of Good Behavior, but you do need to show how your business gets the job done and the effect that has on our community.
If you are confident about what your business does, and I presume you are or you wouldn’t be working so hard to make it a success, then put forward what you do to create success in all its forms, whether it’s a collaboration with a non-profit organization that aligns with your social purpose or a partnership with a business that shares your values. Greyston Bakery set out thirty years ago with a purpose and a passion—they’ve turned that into success they can measure. You can too.