Business for Good: Our Benefit Corporation Report
We became a New York State Public Benefit Corporation in order to make legally binding what we have long practiced: a lasting commitment to people and planet while maintaining a healthy business.
We believe that business can be a force for good. We’re driven not only by profitability, but also by our responsibility to the environment and the people in our supply chain—as well as the employees in our own offices, stores and warehouses. That’s why in 2017 we chose to become a benefit corporation—a legal commitment that ensures we are guided by purpose and transparency. As part of that commitment, we’ve incorporated the four benefits below into our mission:
Benefit #1: We are committed to designing clothing that creates minimal environmental and social impact.
Benefit #2: We are committed to creating an inclusive workplace that respects and honors differences in gender, age, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation and political views.
Benefit #3: We believe in conducting business in ways that empower women and girls, support the fair treatment of all people and preserve the environment.
Benefit #4: We strive to work collaboratively and transparently with other companies in the fashion industry to advance ethical business practices.
WHAT IS A BENEFIT CORPORATION?
A benefit corporation is a legal structure created to help states build better, more responsible businesses. So far, 34 states have passed laws that recognize this new corporate form, including New York, where our headquarters are located. A company that chooses to file as a benefit corporation rather than a traditional C corporation is required to consider, in addition to profitability, the impact of its decisions on all stakeholders, including the community, environment, employees and customers.
So why file as a benefit corporation? For us, it formalizes our commitment to a quadruple bottom line: financial well-being, environmental sustainability, employee well-being and the well-being of communities in our supply chain. This legal framework also protects our mission and values in the face of unexpected company or industry changes—it ensures that our purpose is truly built into our business.
EILEEN FISHER, Inc. headquarters in Irvington, New York.
“We wanted to make a commitment that would withstand leadership changes, financial ups and downs and industry changes. Benefit corporation status helped us put a stake in the ground for our mission and values. We think a lot about the long-term future of our company, and we firmly believe that companies that focus on financial success alone won’t be around in the future.”
–Amy Hall, Social Consciousness Strategic Advisor
HOW IS A BENEFIT CORPORATION DIFFERENT FROM A B CORP?
A B Corp is a for-profit company that has passed B Lab’s Impact Assessment, which is like a report card for environmental and social responsibility. Companies that achieve a score of at least 80 on their assessments are eligible for B Corp Certification, which offers many benefits, including collaboration with a community of like-minded brands and feedback for improvement. Because benefit corporations and B Corps are equally values-driven, many companies choose to become both (like us! You can read more about our B Corp commitments here).
While certifications and legal structures provide helpful guidance as we look to the future, one thing is certain: Regardless, we will continue searching for opportunities to reduce our environmental and social impact, create an inclusive workplace, collaborate within the industry and make a positive difference. We believe business really can be a movement. And it starts with us.