Last April, Pennsylvania joined 11 other states, including neighbors New Jersey and New York, in a progressive movement to adopt legislation creating benefit corporations. But it wasn’t until last week that history was finally made when 15 companies registered as Pennsylvania’s first benefit corporations.
While many of these companies were already certified B Corps—a certification given by the nonprofit B Lab—benefit corporation is a legal status given by the state. Both B Corps and benefit corporation statuses allow sustainably and socially minded companies to be freed of traditional corporate structures that necessitate maximizing profit and shareholder returns. In turn, these businesses can focus more on purpose, committing to practices like energy efficiency, fair wages for employees and community engagement.
Among the 15 new registrants were nine businesses from Philadelphia, including YIKES Inc., a Fishtown-based web design and development company. This fall, YIKES moved into a new LEED Platinum-certified building powered by 100 percent renewable energy. Other sustainable business practices include in-office recycling and composting, green cleaning and volunteer time off, which is built into employee benefits.
“At YIKES, Inc. we believe that business can change the world for the better. We are dedicated to building a more socially, environmentally and financially sustainable local economy,” says Mia Levesque, co‐founder of YIKES, Inc., in a press release. “Becoming a benefit corporation allows us to show our commitment to our values and beliefs as a business.”
The other Philadelphia companies registering for benefit borporation status were: 12th Street Catering, Home Care Associates, The Redefinery, Praxis Consulting, Mugshots Coffeehouse, Re:Vision Architecture, Solutions for Progress and Roofmeadow.
COURTNEY SEXTON recently completed her graduate degree in nonfiction writing at Sarah Lawrence College. She's a "Jersey girl" living in Philadelphia, but is just as likely to be found anywhere else on the East Coast.