June 28, 2017

Becoming a B Corp Benefits More Than the Greater Community

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Thomas M. Williams
Member, Stoll Keenon Ogden PLLC

LOUISVILLE (June 28, 2017)—Legislation passed by Kentucky’s 2017 General Assembly permitting the organization of public benefit corporations, or PBCs, becomes law in the Commonwealth on June 29.

With the assistance of Stoll Keenon Ogden’s Public Benefit Corporation Services practice, one Kentucky business was among the first to revise its status and register as a PBC with Kentucky’s Secretary of State.

“The Kentucky process was straight-forward and mostly involved amending our articles of incorporation and governance documents,” said Scott Koloms, president of Facilities Management Services, Inc. SKO attorneys worked with FMS to ensure their filing was fully compliant with Kentucky’s new PBC statute.

In November 2016, the Louisville-based contract cleaning company completed the more rigorous process of earning B Corp certification from an organization which certifies benefit corporations worldwide. Becoming certified took FMS about 13 months and involved much more than revising the company mission and changing policies.

Looking Through the Public Benefit Lens

Certification became a time of corporate soul-searching for FMS. “We’ve always thought of our company as very people centric, yet we continued to have the same problems, including employee engagement and turnover,” Koloms said.

He discovered that looking for solutions to the challenges at FMS through a lens of broad community benefit yielded some unique and innovative answers. One example is how FMS began to address the lack of engagement and high turnover among its more than 800 employees.

Koloms and his management team had to look beyond wages, so they surveyed employees to learn more. One detail revealed by the survey was that employees were interested in gaining access to healthy eating and learning more about proper diet and healthy lifestyles.

FMS connected with Fresh Stop Markets, a non-profit network of pop-up farm-fresh food markets set up in neighborhoods where fresh food sources are scarce or non-existent. FMS is purchasing advance-paid shares in Fresh Stop Markets for employees to receive with every paycheck.

“Our employees will have enough shares to purchase fresh foods and we’re supporting a non-profit organization committed to helping people with limited incomes eat well,” Koloms said. FMS continues to explore other opportunities to enhance employee well-being through partnerships with community organizations.

An Ongoing Process

Integrating broad benefit into a company’s operations is a continuous process, according to Koloms’ experience. “Refining our business plans, reexamining our objectives and refining our social engagement will be ongoing,” he said.

To connect with other like-minded businesses, Koloms is initiating a Public Benefit Corporation Business Association in Louisville. The first meeting in early June drew nearly a dozen leaders of notable existing businesses as well as new start-up companies.

He hopes the association will become a catalyst to encourage local companies to become B Corps, attract existing B Corps in other markets to consider relocating to Louisville and increase public awareness about the good things that local public benefit corporations are doing.

It’s also an opportunity for managers and owners to learn how other businesses are achieving their goals and solving internal issues with public benefit as an objective.

Here to Help

SKO’s Public Benefit Corporation Services practice works with existing and new companies as they explore the benefit corporation structure. With experience in all aspects of corporate organization and governance, SKO attorneys are focused on helping clients like FMS achieve their objectives.

SKO attorneys worked closely with Kentucky’s legislature to develop the Commonwealth’s public benefit corporation statute, giving clients seeking to form B Corps in the Bluegrass State unparalleled insight. Click here to learn more.

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