Is Chick-Fil-A a Social Enterprise?: The Place of Conservative Values within Social Enterprise Legislation
Georgetown University Law Center
February 22, 2013
Georgetown Public Law Research Paper No. 13-024
This article examines whether recent social enterprise legislation (i.e., the benefit corporation and its various iterations) accommodates companies that have ideologically conservative social missions in addition to internal governance structures and operations that embrace corporate sustainability principles. The article examines whether the benefit corporation and the social and environmental standards employed to measure “general and specific public benefits” are ideologically neutral, and explores what normative values are incorporated into social enterprise legislation. This examination will be conducted through inquiring into whether Chick-fil-A, the popular U.S. fast food restaurant that donates to conservative causes and nonprofit organizations, and also embraces environmentalism and fair employment standards in its internal governance structure, could re-incorporate as a benefit corporation. The author argues that while the corporate legal form might be ideologically neutral, measurements of social and environmental benefits play a critical role in determining what constitutes sustainability and the public benefit produced. These measurements often incorporate ideologically liberal values and exclude conservative values.
Keywords: social enterprise, corporate governance, social impact reporting, benefit corporation, social and environmental standards, flexible purpose corporation, Chick-Fil-Aworking papers series
Date posted: February 23, 2013 ; Last revised: August 12, 2013
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