A law for companies with purpose

These days that we have had to live in a ‘slow’ way are an opportunity to delve into a concept that I have been pursuing for a long time and about what I like to delve into: banding … with purpose. 

From my years in college, where there was talk of the 4p’s of marketing and sales as the sole purpose of advertising a product, I have not returned to this world. I spent the last three years of my University degree working in an advertising agency.

In the end, I recognized that I was ‘out of this world’, and if it didn’t make sense to me, I was wrong about my career. It was then, when I left college, that my father and I created the Enriqueta Villavecchia Foundation for Children with Cancer and I ran it for the first 5 years.

Today, the Foundation has come a long way, as far as the Creu de Sant Jordi and the extension of its aid to so many areas around these children and their families.

And I feel happy to have started the journey. Further afield, they have come a long way.

Over the years, I have worked in the third sector and public administration to enrich corporate communication and the reputation of different entities.

Today I am at Barcelona City Council, working for the reputation and international positioning of our city. In recent years, moreover, accepting a certain seniority, I have started teaching at the University around the concept of branding (in English branding, personal branding and place branding).

Training beginners has encouraged me to package my work experience to add value to my classes, but most of all they have kept me active in learning and exploring the trends of what started out as my ‘career’. It has taken me many years to reconcile with my university studies and it is all my fault for what is now called ‘branding’ on purpose.

From my years at the Foundation I have had very enriching experiences, hard, happy, intense, all very valuable.

But I also find it difficult to convince the private company of the need to participate in a good purpose such as supporting children in cancer treatment. For the low social awareness, for the meager tax incentives, especially.

The crisis of 2018, the digital tsunami, climate change and its consequences have turned the way we relate globally, also in the business world, giving voice and prominence to people for the first time.

Anonymous people, disappointed by the management of those above (governments, banks, companies and institutions), make their voices heard demanding changes in the way they do business, for the benefit of society and the planet.

Perhaps the impetus of Larry Fink, CEO of Black Rock, with his annual letter ‘A sense of purpose’ in 2018 has something to do with it.

And slowly but certain, brands like Patagonia, Danone and Unilever (led by Yvon Chouinard, Emmanuel Faber and Paul Polman respectively) are emerging that are committed to working for a better world, aligning their economic goals with goals. social or environmental factors that have a positive impact on their field of activity Companies that are able to show that the economic benefit increases if a strategic purpose is added to the strategic objectives, to the entire value chain (the company, stakeholders, customers) and to the geographical environment in which it operates.

Win-win, they say. In this context, it makes me happy, and it admires me! the publication of the new “Green Paper of companies with purpose”, an initiative of B Lab Spain and Gabeiras y Asociados / Fundación Gabeiras to promote the recognition of the business model with purpose in Spain: a business model that, beyond generating economic benefits, seek to generate social and environmental value.

As defined in the book, ‘purposeful companies’ are “for-profit companies that proactively seek to make a positive impact on society (…) and use private resources to solve a public problem” (p. 22). This ‘Green Paper’ aims to take a first step towards the company’s ‘White Paper’ on purpose, from which to establish the legal framework for this new business model. In a document that does not reach 100 pages, the bases for moving towards the legal framework that creates a new model of ‘business with purpose’, based on the experience of specialists and the ‘best practices’ from other countries, which started this path just ten years ago!

This law has its origins in the United States where in 2010, under the name ‘Benefit Corporation’ was approved for the first time the state of Maryland. Since then, 37 states have been added.

Surprisingly, in 2015, Italy was the second country in the world to establish this new legal instrument, called the ‘Benefit Society’, and even more so when we read that it had its origins in the arrival of refugees and the social conflict it generated.

Three years later, in 2018, France approved with the Loi Pacte the so-called ‘Societés à mission’, the result of the electoral process for the presidency of the country and within the economic program of Emmanuel Macron.

All this, from the stubborn and persistent effort of the B Corporation Spain, which has been paving the way for years, and which can be the main ally of the state while advancing towards a law that regulates ‘companies on purpose’ in our country Over the years, I reconcile with my ‘career’, giving meaning to the concept of branding, which will have to incorporate a purpose if it is to become the agent of change that consumers demand.

And over time, perhaps the Third Sector will be diluted with the for-profit economic sector … and with purpose. It would mean that not only a part of society works for the good of other people, but all sectors of activity are able to commit to the common good, beyond pure economic benefit.

This single benefit, in the 21st century, at the beginning of the end of COVID19, begins to sound anachronistic. Other sources of information:

  • BCorpSpain:
  • Fundación Gabeiras
  • Que sont les sociétés à mission? La Loi Pacte. Ministre de l’Économie, des Finances et de la Relance
  • Especialmente ahora, más empresas con propósito, Ramón Pueyo. Cinco días.
  • Benefit corporation, B Lab
  • Cosa sono le Società Benefit? Sito di informazione sulle Società Benefit curato da B Lab e AssoBenefit
  • Larry Fink’s 2018 letter to CEOS “A sense of purpose”
  • Unilever Sustainable Living Plan 2010 to 2020
  • Patagonia. We are in business to save our home planet.
  • La crise a-t-elle tué ou imposé l’entreprise à mission ? Entrevista a Emmanuel FABER, ex Président i Conseller Delegat de Danone
  • Why Win-Win-Win Propositions Are The Future Of Business, de Rachel Cook