Regis University’s Karl Dakin efforts help advance Colorado corporate social responsibility law

Hannah BreeceJune 10, 2013

(DENVER) – On May 15, 2013, Regis University’s Karl Dakin stood behind Colorado Gov. Hickenlooper as the governor signed the Colorado Public Benefit Corporation Bill (HB 1138) into law. Dakin, the executive director of Regis University’s Sullivan Endowed Chair in Free Enterprise, and members of the University’s Colorado Capital Congress were actively involved in the four-year process to get the bill through the Colorado legislature, where Representative Pete Lee and Senator John Kefalas sponsored it.

The resulting bill allows new corporations to prioritize social missions in a way that traditional corporations cannot because of obligations to maximize profits for shareholders. This requirement, set by the Colorado Corporate Code, was designed to protect shareholders, but it also meant that charitable contributions and community engagement by for-profit corporations violated the code. Now, for-profit corporations that wish to deviate from the traditional business model and direct more attention to social missions must use “Public Benefit Corporation” or “PBC” in their names to indicate the lower profit margin expectations.

According to Dakin, a company is considered a PBC only if it “has a ‘material positive impact’” in any of the following ways: Provides low-income or underserved individuals or communities with beneficial products or services; Promotes economic opportunity for individuals or communities beyond the creation of jobs in the normal course of business; Protects or restores the environment; Improves human health; Promotes the arts, sciences, or advance of knowledge; Increases the flow of capital to entities that have a purpose of benefitting society or the environment; and confers any other material benefit on society or the environment.
Patricia Ladewig, Regis University Provost, commented on the bill and extended her congratulations to Dakin.

“This is a wonderful accomplishment because this bill is so clearly aimed at serving the common good,” said Ladewig. “All of us at Regis University can rightly celebrate the fact that [Dakin], our Sullivan Chair, has been such a strong voice in this effort.”