New ‘Benefit Corporation’ Lets Companies Focus on Triple Bottom Line

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Governor Rick Scott on Friday signed legislation allowing the formation of Benefit Corporations and Social Purposed Corporations in Florida. These new for-profit corporate structures differ from traditional corporations by creating a general benefit to society or the environment or by allowing a company’s founders to choose a specific social purpose to focus on.

These corporations are required to meet minimum standards for responsibility, transparency and accountability and are expected to balance the needs of the triple bottom line, commonly understood as people, planet, and profits. “Benefit Corporations and more responsible business practices in general are a hot topic in Florida right now,” says Vinny Tafuro, president and CEO of Conscious Capitalism Florida. “Floridians are starting to expect companies to act like responsible adults.”

Tampa Bay Times columnist Ernest Hooper caught up with Tafuro the week following the 2014 Sustainable Business Awards luncheon. Held at the University of Tampa’s Vaughn Center, the annual event honors companies that “undoubtedly are behaving like adults,” Hooper wrote, “embracing responsibility, creating a caring work environment, reaping the benefits and sleeping well at night knowing that their work has made the planet just a little bit better.”

The legislation becomes effective on July 1, 2014 for anyone interesting forming a Benefit Corporation. Conscious Capitalism Florida is working with B Lab, The US Green Chamber, Florida NEXT, and the Florida Bar Association to host an education event later this year to explain the benefits and details of the new corporate structure to Florida’s entrepreneurial and business communities.