We are a New York State benefit corporation. Most folks have no idea what that means. It is a new corporate form. In most ways, it looks and acts like a plain vanilla corporation, with the same kind of ownership and governance structure, C Corp or S Corp tax elections, etc. There are really two major differences.
First, benefit corporations go on record from the very beginning that they will serve more than their shareholders. We vow to pursue at least a “general public benefit” and, optionally, a “specific public benefit” and shareholders know that their interests will be balanced with those of other stakeholders from the very beginning.
Second, benefit corporations must file an annual benefit report with New York State. The annual benefit report is a public document that not only goes to the state, but must be sent to each shareholder and posted on our website (see below). The idea is that each benefit corporation chooses a third party standard of public benefit and then reports annually on how they are doing against that standard. For the privilege of being socially responsible businesses, we also get to pay the state an additional annual fee for submitting the report.
General Public Benefit and Specific Public Benefit
For most benefit corporations, general public benefit is baked into the company’s mission. So, our mission statement can actually be used as an explanation of the general public benefit we are trying to create. What is our mission?
Good People’s mission is to make energy saving technology easy, while being an example of responsible stewardship of energy, communities, and human potential.
Specific public benefit is defined in our by-laws. Not all benefit corporations elect to pursue a specific public benefit and there is really no harm in keeping things general. But we thought there was some value in specifying what we are all about in our founding documents, so here is our specific public benefit:
The Corporation also serves a specific public benefit of increasing the availability and use of energy saving technologies while considering the interests of all Stakeholders, including employees, customers, suppliers, shareholders, lenders, government, and the communities in which the Corporation operates.
So, at a high-level, that’s what we will be held to. For 2016, we really didn’t have much detail to go into or specific initiatives to talk about. Obviously, getting the Phoenix Fan Controller onto the market will go a long way to serving both our general and specific public benefit. Other than that, trying to keep our supply chain local and looking for ways to employ disabled people have really been our primary initiatives.
Our Benefit Report is linked from our About page.