Since their founding in 2007 businesses have converted to B-Corporations (B-Corps) as a way to make business more aligned with the broader goals of environmental protection, community development, and employee engagement. They stand as beacons of progressive and sustainable practices. A significant aspect of this evolution is the incorporation of Employee Ownership Trusts (EOTs), a concept that is increasingly resonating within the B-Corp community. Let’s explore why EOTs are becoming an integral part of the employee ownership (EO) conversation in the B-Corp community.
B-Corps: Pioneers of Social Responsibility
B-Corps are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability. They aim to balance profit and purpose, striving to benefit all stakeholders – employees, communities, and the environment. It's in this context that EOTs find a natural alignment.
Employee Ownership Trusts: A Synergistic Fit for B-Corps
An Employee Ownership Trust (EOT) is a trust that holds a company’s shares on behalf of its employees, as well as to protect the company’s Purpose. This model fosters a mission-driven, collaborative and inclusive workplace, where employees collectively own and influence the business's future, and help steward its mission. For B-Corps, EOTs allow owners to protect their company’s mission and values at the ownership level, while transitioning financial ownership. The B-corp+EOT approach, unified the values focus on benefit corporations with the shared success and responsibility of employee ownership.
Why EOTs Resonate with B-Corps
Aligning with Core Values: EOTs inherently support the B-Corp commitment to social responsibility and equity. They create an environment where employees are not just workers but stakeholders, directly contributing to and benefitting from the company’s success.
Enhancing Employee Engagement and Wellbeing: EOTs contribute to higher employee satisfaction, engagement, and retention. In B-Corps, where employee wellbeing is paramount, EOTs strengthen this commitment, aligning employee prosperity with the company’s overall growth.
Promoting Long-term Stability and Growth: EOTs encourage a long-term view of business success, which aligns with the B-Corp philosophy of sustainable growth and community impact. By empowering employees as owners, EOTs drive a more sustainable and resilient business model.
Challenges and Considerations in Adopting EOTs for B-Corps
While EOTs offer compelling advantages for B-Corps, their integration into B-Corps requires careful planning and consideration. Challenges include designing the EOT structure with the company’s specific mission, stakeholders and goals in mind. Beyond the legal and financial expertise requirements, there are some subtleties of setting up a mission-driven trust, and ensuring the transition to employee ownership aligns with the B-Corp’s culture and operational model.
Conclusion: EOTs as a Catalyst for B-Corp Evolution
For B-Corps considering a transition to an EOT, the journey promises to reinforce their mission, amplify their impact, and sustain their vision. It's an opportunity to redefine success in business, not just in financial terms, but in the well-being and empowerment of every employee. EOTs in B-Corps aren't just about ownership; they're about fostering a culture where everyone is invested in the common goal of creating a better world through responsible business practices.
As B-Corps and EOTs both prioritize the broader impacts of business decisions, integrating an EOT can be a natural progression for B-Corps looking to deepen their commitment to ethical and sustainable practices. It’s a model that encourages a holistic view of business success, where profit and purpose coexist harmoniously.
Embarking on the EOT Journey?
For B-Corps considering adopting an EOT, the journey begins with a thorough assessment of the company’s values, goals, and operational structure. It involves engaging with knowledgeable advisors like Common Trust who understand the nuances of both B-Corp certification, Benefit Corporation legal status, and EOTs, ensuring a seamless integration that upholds the company’s ethos and enhances its impact. To learn more about how to transition your B corp to employee ownership, book your free advisory call with Common Trust here.