During the 5th Festival of company and of value of undertaking by Confindustria Romagna on Tuesday 2nd July took place the conference “Stories of common benefit” which brought to Palazzo Rasponi in Ravenna all the themes linked to the benefit societies.
Here spoke Professor Stefano Zamagni of the Bologna University, recently named President of the Pontifical academy of social sciences. At the speaker’s table there were also two persons of the inland who has believed in the innovation through the new model of Benefit company: Mario Zani, General Manager of Eurocompany and Sara Cirone, CEO of a PMI of the land and Founder of Sara Cirone Group Srlb. Moderator of the event: Alessia Gozzi, responsible for QN of newsroom Economy.
“Benefit Companies incorporate in their own corporate purpose the profit and also the purpose of having a positive influence on the company” explained Roberto Bozzi, vice-President of Confindustria Romagna, who introduced the conference, mentioning also the involvement characteristic of Benefit companies in terms of budget of undertakings, of the company’s statute and report.
The common benefit
Professor Zamagni, in his report, started form an historical excursus of the company’s welfare model taken by Ford, who pursued in his factories philanthropic endeavours, causing a dispute with Dodge, the founding partner who sued him, accusing him of being contrary to the company’s interest (this interest at the time consisted of the maximum profit for the members at any cost) in order to implement actions to determine a common benefit. Professor Zamagni explained that USA have been the first Country in the world to provide itself with a company’s model that considers the profit for its members and a common benefit in the social field: in fact, in 2010 were born the Bcorp (Benefit corporation).
With the 208/2015 Law, Italy introduced in its economic system this new company’s model which starts from the American one. In these companies, part of the profits doesn’t become direct profit, but is used for aims of social utility: Professor Zamagni claimed that: “In the Benefit we create a continuous value all year long” and a paradox is achieved “The company which doesn’t maximise profits makes profits more than before. So, finally its profit is higher”.
Analysing the reasons for which Italy is among the first to provide itself with this kind of company with social issues, Professor of the University of Bologna explained that entrepreneurship was born in Toscana between 1330 and 1400 during the Florentine civil Humanism of the merchants. One of the biggest exponents of that time is Coluccio Salutati, who considers the merchants as the defenders and promoters of the town: the purpose of the entrepreneur-merchant is to make money but also to beautify Florence. In fact, the Florence Cathedral was built and managed by 6 entrepreneurs… “the first example of benefit company”. In this way, foreign peoples arriving in town were fascinated by beauty and they bought.
Professor Zamagni underlined another important point: the land. When companies work in a land and for the land, they receive consequently agreement. So, the development of the company goes hand in hand with the land’s one.
Today we are during the fourth industrial revolution and every day increases more and more the direct relation between the reputational capital and the reputation enjoyed by a company for what it does to the world and to its own land.
That’s why is important the valorisation of this kind of company and it’s hoped that the legislative development for the benefit can be not primarily to give tax reduction but to give versatility.
Eurocompany Benefit Society
Mario Zani described the experience of Eurocompany and the benefit this company creates. This is a 12 months benefit company, but this “change has started early”. Zani’s interesting approach is his vision first for the land and for the supply chain than for the employees. This paradigm shift started from the review of the lifestyle, realizing that the man doesn’t accord with a natural and biological lifestyle.
This change, for them who are distributors of dried fruit, has started from the reduction of the ingredients list: fewer ingredients but healthier and cleaner. In addition to their product, they have worked in the pursuit of persons like them, so making a review of suppliers, customers and contacts. This whole process has resulted in absolute value for all: work in a transparent way.
A really interested action undertaken by this company is the signing of long-term agreements to enhance for everyone the contract terms, creating an agreement of sustainable growth which is beneficial for both sides. In order to create a corporate family, all signed a mission thus involving employees in the way to happiness. A consequence of the death of one of his colleagues of the company, is the last innovation: provide all employees with health coverage to protect the employee and his whole family.
Eurocompany is, therefore, the perfect example that there are clear benefits in terms of business, not only into the line business, but also in the welfare of the company and of the land, not neglecting that the income has considerably improved and that the benefit to everyone, starting from himself, is to go every day in a place where it’s possible to create welfare for yourself and for the others.
Sara Cirone Group Benefit Company
Sara Cirone explained formal mechanisms to become a benefit company: it’s important to introduce in the corporate purpose of the statute a common benefit and, at the end of the year, it’s imperative to produce a report on the activities of common benefit to attach it to the budget. Many new companies or companies which have turned into Benefit have some problems, that’s why a team of experts has developed The guidelines for the report of the benefit companies. http://www.saracirone.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/NIBR_GUIDA-SB_ITA.pdf . Then, Sara Cirone continued explaining the common benefit of the same-named Benefit Company, recently founded, which deals with advice for companies, administrations and Third Sector Bodies about issues of non-financial disclosures, the assessment of the intangible asset, sustainability and benefit companies. The common benefit of Sara Cirone Group concerns: the deployment of humanistic cultural models and of sustainable managerial tools and methods, in order to support the cultural growth of the land; the promotion and development of projects shared among companies, non-profit organizations and public administrations to facilitate the application of the culture of sustainability.
Finally, Sara Cirone stated that the long-term creation of material and immaterial value is the opportunity to improve the quality of earth’s life and to stop curtailing it in order to maximise profits. The sustainable economic development is connected to certain decisions that companies, governments and communities can implement through a good and aligned governance, the measurement of their own environmental, social and economic performances, and the mapping of the future prospects to create transparency towards the aims to be achieved. The contribution to a participative view of the communities highlighting the multi capital value of companies and lands introduces us to a new management dynamic of the tangible and intangible assets which allow us a change of direction: it’s a paradigm shift. The real revolution in terms of management, continues Sara Cirone, is the non-financial report to which the benefit is legally subjected and that since 2017 all the stock market -listed companies must produce for the benefit of the community. But all companies can decide to do it voluntarily. It’s connected to the Corporate Reporting notion, in line with the most innovative standards, already internationally used, a report which shows us costs and revenues and which introduces us to the topic of the intangibles, the topic of several funds that a company can use to its own activities. What does this mean? That the non-financial reporting is the first action of social responsibility and substantial sustainability of a company: tell how that value has been created, how it moved within the community and which consequences it has generated on the ground in economic and environmental terms. That’s why it’s a revolution. In fact, if we consider two companies with equal costs and profits, they can develop intangibles and they can use their own organisational, human, relational and environmental assets in different way. So, it gives us the possibility to be transparent towards the community, to plain an efficient approach which is able to heed all these matters, and ultimately to contribute to the development of the civilisation.
Emilia Romagna, goes on Cirone, is a model region in this sense, having the best indicators in Europe for employment, GDP per capita and health and much else, and it’s a region which is maximally attentive to its own effects. Once again, this proves that the approach to sustainability and to management of the intangibles enhances the economic and social development of the lands and it establishes a better quality of life.