Innovation is my monthly column in Madison Magazine covering startups and the entrepreneurial community in Dane County, Wisconsin.
Socially conscious startups can make money and save the world at the same time
Monthly Innovations column, November 2019
When asked as a kid, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I intuited there were only two possible answers: Get rich or help people. It was assumed you couldn’t do both. Fast-forward four decades to last fall when my daughter started college. As she weighed her career options in earnest, I heard myself asking her, “How important to you is making money?”
The rise in socially conscious companies – particularly benefit corporations and Certified B Corporations, or B Corps – has me hoping we’ve evolved.
Benefit corporations, legal in Wisconsin since 2018, are essentially for-profit businesses with do-good missions baked into their bylaws. B Corps, which predate the legislation, are different. They undergo a rigorous, third-party certification process – think organic or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, known as LEED – that’s open to all types of businesses. And while certified B Corps require a bigger time investment and annual fee, the return on investment may be worth the altruistic branding alone.
—Maggie Ginsberg is an award-winning freelance writer in Madison, Wisconsin