The benefit company as a solution within the reach of agrifood companies to approach sustainability issues in a rigorous manner
"Società benefit" is a qualification that the legislator introduced through the Stability Law for the year 2016, art.1, paragraphs 376 to 384 (law 28 December 2015, n.208). together with social and environmental objectives. This is not, however, a commitment 'outside ' of the company's core business or the mere management of environmental and social externalities through CSR (corporate social responsibility) approaches. It is an approc that is, rigorous and formal, through which an organization institutionalizes in its statute the social and environmental objectives it aims to achieve and which are at the heart of its business model.
From a company, therefore, it is expected that it is responsible, that is, that it carefully manages its own impacts, its externalities, on the environment and society, but that it is also a generator of social value, through a clear and far-sighted planning of its 'activities common benefit '. An example of how a benefit company defines its objectives and the way to achieve them is the Boniviri Impact Map. Benefit companies are also called upon to report their performance with respect to the results achieved and their impacts.
As explained in the Guide to the Constitution and Management of Companies of the Taranto Chamber of Commerce (see here), the the annual report that benefit companies are required to draw up must contain the 'evaluation of the impact generated using the external evaluation standard that includes the following evaluation areas ': corporate governance, workers, other stakeholders and the environment. An example of an impact report is the Boniviri Impact Report.
Companies operating in the agrifood market are taking their steps within a complex sector, where sustainability issues are relevant and increasingly under the magnifying glass of the media and stakeholders.As told by Teknoring, in the last five years (2016-2020), the Food Sustainability Observatory has registered 7,120 agrifood startups, not only Italian. For these organizations, the priority objectives are: 'the transition to more responsible production and consumption systems, where 35% of the solutions proposed by new companies are concentrated; the fight against hunger, with 21%;
economic growth sustainable and inclusive, with 17%. Among the most relevant parameters analyzed and managed by the organizations surveyed there is the efficient use of resources (centered by 17% of the sample), resilient agriculture and sustainable tourism (12%), awareness of sustainable lifestyles (11%), protection of small producers (9%), reduction of food surpluses and waste (7%). '
It is therefore clear that companies operating in the agrifood sector are increasingly called to consider issues strictly related to sustainability and innovation. Many of these are already moving in this direction.
In fact, according to the Observatory, 1,808 international startups are pursuing one or more Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations 2030 Agenda.
What better solution than the benefit society?
Taking these issues to heart and putting them at the center of one's work is complex and, in addition to the will of management, requires specific legal and managerial tools.
Thanks to the qualification of benefit company, an agrifood company can formally and rigorously commit itself to the pursuit of these objectives, which are already central to its business model. Not only will it be able to include its social and environmental objectives in its bylaws, but it will also be able to tell its performance in a structured and transparent way to its stakeholders through its annual report.
And that's not all: it will be possible to join a network of virtuous companies that pay attention to sustainability, demonstrating with conviction to its customers and consumers the social and environmental commitment that the company has undertaken.
Boniviri's adventure is moving along these lines. So far this approach has brought great value to the organization, creating important relationships with both strategic partners and customers, and giving the team great motivation. This is a long path towards the creation of social value, of which Boniviri wants to be one of the forerunners in the food market, stimulating other organizations in the sector to change.
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