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25-Oct-2020 09:01

In 2005-2006 I did a study on constituency statutes for B Lab.Constituency statutes can be effective tools in legal tool kit; however, they don’t necessarily create transparency around stakeholder empowerment.One of the thought leaders in social enterprise law in California, and co-author of the FPC (flexible purpose corporation) law is R. Todd is a Partner at Jones Day and is the Practice Leader of the Energy group of the firm where he focuses on Renewable Energy and Sustainability.Todd has had a lengthy career serving social entrepreneurs, having represented companies such as Sun Power, Embrace Technologies, Good Guide, Labor, as well as Grameen Trust, and advising companies like Good Capital, Global Giving, and B Labs during his 25 year career at Jones Day. Innov8Social had a chance to speak with Todd Johnson about his vision for the intersection of law, policy, and social enterprise; as well as the story behind California’s flexible purpose corporation.In 2010, California state senator De Saulnier sponsored the bill.Unfortunately it was another budget battle bill year, and the bill didn’t proceed very far.The governor didn’t comment on any of the vetoes, except for this one—he told the bill’s sponsor that he wanted a better bill, and wanted CA to be a leader.

In 2011, both the benefit corporation and flexible purpose corporation legislation passed into law in CA.

And in all 31 states with constituency statutes, it is elective (i.e. In 2008, B Lab proposed a California constituency statute applying a “shall” requirement—to apply to all corporations.

While I supported the idea that the market should allow for social enterprise, I was wary of forcing it on every corporation.

In response, we made changes to the proposed legislation and prepared an FAQ to explain the changes made and those that were not made in response to comments.

That FAQ remains available to this date, providing transparency in the trade-offs made in drafting the legislation.

The key will be when capital flows freely into companies that are organized affirmatively to achieve blended value or the triple-bottom line and are structured to make that institutional, rather than subject to the will of the founder (which is always at risk of death, divorce or a change of heart).