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An antidote to corporate 'ecopostureo'

2024-02-12T05:15:41.042Z

Highlights: Hundreds of Spanish companies are waiting for the regulation that regulates the framework of action of common interest property companies to be approved. A year and a half ago, Congress approved a regulation with an additional provision to recognize a new business figure, common benefit and interest companies (SBIC) SBICs are, on paper, companies that pursue more than just making money and are committed to incorporating social and environmental issues into their statutes. The regulation of the law has yet to be made. It is a risk because the standard can become a trap for companies that advertise what they are not.


Hundreds of Spanish companies are waiting for the regulation that regulates the framework of action of common interest property companies to be approved


Winnowing, in addition to being a nice word, is a very useful agricultural maneuver.

It consists of throwing grain and straw into the sky.

The wind and the difference in weight are responsible for separating them.

A year and a half ago, with unusual unanimity, Congress approved a regulation—Creation and Growth Law—with an additional provision to recognize a new business figure, common benefit and interest companies (SBIC).

A way to separate business grain and advertising chaff.

SBICs are, on paper, companies that pursue more than just making money and are committed to incorporating social and environmental issues into their statutes with greater levels of transparency and accountability.

There is a problem: a year and a half later, the regulation of the law has yet to be made.

It is a risk because the standard can become a trap for companies that advertise what they are not.

Hundreds of companies in Spain such as Danone, Capsa or Basf, the pharmaceutical company Ferrer, Triodos Bank, Holaluz, Camper, Ecoalf, SEK Education, Isdin, Puig or MásMóvil are waiting for the regulation, stuck in the legislative calendar.

There is interest.

Companies interested in the SBIC seal know that, today, assuming social and environmental commitments beyond what is established by law does not entail additional economic advantages.

But it's in the environment.

In the future, SBIC consideration, in addition to an image improvement, may entail tax and contracting advantages with public administrations.

Something interesting for companies that work in sectors that find it difficult to join the labels of maximum environmental demands.

Carles Navarro, general director of the Basf chemical company in Spain, explains it: “This different figure [the SBIC], which is reflected in other jurisdictions in Europe and America, seems very interesting to me because it is something acceptable for us;

It represents a step forward, something qualitative.”

SBICs can be an intermediate step, Navarro admits, on the path to the highest standards such as the B Corp seal. The B Corp is a “top certificate” for the most socially committed companies.

It is issued by the non-profit organization B Lab to companies that meet high social and environmental standards, public transparency and legal responsibility.

These companies are legally required to take their workers, customers, suppliers, the community and the environment into account when making decisions.

And that they reflect it in their statutes.

A step beyond utilitarian business theory, according to which a company's action is moral if it achieves the greatest possible benefit.

The executive director of B Lab, Belén Viloria, explains that the Spanish SBICs represent “an intermediate space between 0 and 100”, a place between traditional companies, for which profit is the only watchword and the most committed to a new economy and the transformation of the system.

At the top of the podium, indicates Viloria, are the B Corp companies. “There are 8,000 around the world, 230 in Spain and another hundred on the way.”

An elite.

Although 8,000 B Corp companies are a good number, context must be put.

In Spain alone there are more than three million companies.

And transparency continues to be the great pending issue.

This was recently denounced by the Association of Economic Information Journalists (APIE), which has detailed how 31 of the 50 largest Spanish companies do not call the press to present their annual results.

There is room for improvement and change.

And reasons to do so.

Viloria assures that, according to B Lab data, B Corp companies, the most committed, improve their annual income level by an average of 31%.

With the grain and the chaff separated, society rewards commitment and transparency in the face of widespread confusion.

“In 2020,” recalls the director of B Lab, “the [European] Commission carried out a study on environmental statements in which it concluded that, of 150 statements studied, 53% were vague, misleading or unfounded, and 40% of “They were not adequately supported.”

What greenwashing amounts to.

Ugly but still profitable.

The Spanish SBICs join similar business figures approved in the US since 2010 —Benefit Corporations—;

Italy —Società Benefit— and France —Société à Mission—.

In Spain the law exists, but the regulations are missing.

A hole, but controlled, according to Patricia Gabeiras, from the Gabeiras y Asociados firm, which has participated in the SBIC approval process.

In her opinion, the absence of regulations, which could be a drain on uncommitted companies, is compensated by the work carried out with the College of Registrars.

“A development guide and code of good practice have been developed to create a transitional environment until the regulation is approved.”

José Armando Tellado, CEO of Capsa Food—the first Spanish B Corp company—considers it important that the SBIC regulation be approved.

“Political exercise has shown that when you want you can,” he says.

“I see no reason to delay a regulation that in my opinion is essential so that a lot of entrepreneurs and companies can start working in a regulated, orderly environment or have some advantages in exchange for this to benefit us all as a society” , Add.

Majority support

On paper, the path is clear.

Both the PP and the PSOE recognize that the approval of the pending regulation is important.

Celso Delgado (PP), who chaired the Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation Commission at the time of the approval of the law known as Crea y Crece, considers that the norm—and its additional provision—responds to “real needs” and would help a lot to the companies.

The socialist deputy Pedro Casares, spokesman for the Economy, highlights, for his part, the majority support of Congress for the norm and attributes the delay in the approval of the SBIC regulation to the calendar of the new legislature.

“The important thing is the will, a very majority, to advance in these companies.

The step towards having a business fabric that, in addition to economic value, provides social and environmental value.”

And the step to differentiate the values ​​of advertising.

The European Union is also in it.

The debate on the regulation of common interest companies in Spain coincides with the processing in the EU of the

green claims

directive , a legislative proposal to regulate the environmental claims, known by that name, that companies make about their products or services. services and which can refer to any environmental aspect of a product or service, such as its carbon footprint, its energy efficiency, its recycled content or its impact on biodiversity.

In short, an antidote to the superficial facelift of many companies.

A thorny issue that has serious consequences.

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Source: elparis

All business articles on 2024-02-12

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