Social Impact: Public Benefit Report Details Our CSR
Over a quarter century in business as a branding agency working with socially responsible companies, we’ve produced our share of corporate annual financial, sustainability, and CSR reports.
We’re proud, and at the same time a little bashful, it took us so long, but we’ve finally created our first annual report for Oliver Russell.
It’s a “public benefit report,” and while I’d like to say we produced it of our own accord, it’s actually a legal requirement for Oliver Russell since we changed our legal status last summer to become Idaho’s first benefit corporation.
To set the stage for the uninitiated, here’s the rundown on benefit corporations.
Benefit corporation legislation has been enacted in 31 states as of this writing. Generally, when a company elects to become a benefit corporation, it requires three things:
Number 1 - The company expand its charter to explicitly deliver public benefit by creating social and environmental impact alongside financial profit.
Number 2 - The company is now formally obligated to consider its impact on stakeholders, as well its shareholders.
And Numero Tres, the reason for bringing us all together today—The company must publish a public annual benefit report that details its social and environmental performance against a third-party standard.
So as the proverbial cobbler’s son, we’re finally getting our shoes with this, our first annual benefit report.
It was fun building our benefit report. It has a few brick and mortar requirements, such as the benefit director’s opinion that the company has acted in accordance with its purpose, and it has to be made available to stakeholders no more than 120 days after the end of the company’s fiscal year.
The legal code allows for the flexibility to demonstrate our creative design chops with a little architectural detailing as well. We chose to highlight our work for clients, the majority of which now comes from like-minded, purpose-driven companies and organizations that offer a product, service, or business model that benefits society.
Make no mistake, while senior art director Mike Stevens’ design is pretty stellar, our public benefit report is more than just a pretty face, as it’s filled with verifiable performance metrics that chart our specific impact in providing public and community benefits, as well as our environmental and social stewardship.
You’ll find that we decreased our energy consumption and lessened our environmental impact through various alternative transportation strategies.
You’ll be able to see how Oliver Russell stacks up compared with ordinary businesses, sustainable businesses, and our fellow B Corps in the areas of governance, community, customers, environment, and workers.
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Speaking of that last one, workers—you’ll gain a deeper understanding of our employee benefit policies, which is important to us. Now, you won’t catch us spouting bromides such as “employees are our most valuable asset.” What you will find is that we actively strive to measurably improve our workplace. We’re proud that last year we were selected as Best in the World for Workers by B Lab, the nonprofit organization that developed the impact assessment we use as the third-party standard for our social and environmental performance. Best in the World for Workers is scored based on a company’s compensation, benefits and training, worker ownership, and work environment.
All in all, it’s good to spend some time reviewing the past year, celebrate the accomplishments, while also identifying areas for future improvement. We made new friends, gained new clients for our branding, digital media, and PR practices, and supported our corporate purpose by increasing the measurable impact of our social and environmental initiatives.
But I’ve blathered on enough. The proof is, as they say, in the pudding, and if you’d like to have a spoonful of the impact we made last year, you can get a helping of our 2015 Benefit Report here.
Perhaps I’ll simply end with a quote from one of our clients that’s spot on in regards the type of company we’re trying to create.
“If you want to see what the example of a purpose-driven company should be, you’ll find it in Oliver Russell.”
–Mindy Plumlee, Executive Director, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Idaho.
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Why do sustainability reports matter and where are they headed?
Benefit Corporation legislation considers people and planet along with profits.
Practicing and measuring CSR will gain importance in the year(s) to come.