OAKLAND (KCBS) — Last week Oakland’s Give Something Back Office Supply joined more than a dozen other California companies at the secretary of state’s office to register as a “benefit corporation”.

For more than two decades the office store has been using its profits to support local charities. Now they’ve signed on, the first day it was available, for this new program.

“For companies like us that had been doing this for 20 years—it basically just validates what we’ve been doing all along and gives us legal protection,” said company President and Co-Founder Mike Hannigan.

KCBS’ Jeff Bell Reports:

Prior to the change in law, corporations in California were required to operate solely in the interest of their investors.

“When they deviated from that goal, investors had the right to sue the company for basically violating the corporate law,” Hannigan added.

But now he said corporations are allowed to introduce stakeholders other than investors; like the environment, the employees and the community.

“Investors no longer have a greater say in the operations of the business than the other stakeholders,” he said.

California is the seventh state in the U.S. to offer this new corporate structure.

Hannigan said it sounds like a simple thing, but that it’s an important step towards creating a social tool to help benefit the community. He sees this as development for socially conscious companies.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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