Intuit Spreads the Sustainability Love for Small Businesses

Intuit Spreads the Sustainability Love for Small Businesses

Intuit launched a small business sustainability assessment this month, hoping to shine a spotlight on the unsung good deeds performed by local companies throughout the U.S.

The company, famous for its TurboTax, Quicken and QuickBooks software, teamed up with nonprofit B Lab to create the Local Hero Challenge, a 10-question assessment covering five key areas: accountability, community, consumers, employees, and environment.

Their answers generate a score that comes with an associated banner, including scout, booster, mentor, pioneer and local hero. It follows Intuit's Love a Local Business campaign, where consumers nominate their favorite small businesses to win prizes and free advertising.

The assessment isn't comprehensive, but it does give small businesses access to sustainability with criteria they can use to evaluate their performance and inform their business decisions, while also sharing the results with their customers and communities. As we've seen on many occasions, once businesses see the benefits and economic perks of making their operations greener firsthand, they rarely abandon the path.

News of the Local Hero Challenge comes around the same time that Maryland became the first state in the country to pass a law creating B Corps  -- companies with a mandate to deliver benefits to both shareholders and society.

The development is a major coup for B Lab, the nonprofit that created the sustainable business standards now governing nearly 300 companies in 54 industries.

The law provides legal cover for business leaders often required to maximize shareholder value, sometimes at the expense of the environment. Additionally, it helps to assuage fears of entrepreneurs afraid of sacrificing their environmental or social missions in order to raise capital to grow their businesses.

The law also gives shareholders more leverage to take companies to task for not making business decisions that either create a positive societal impact or consider the impacts on their community, employees or the environment.

Famous B Corps include Method, Seventh Generation, New Leaf Paper and Numi Organic Tea. In addition to those businesses certified, more than 1,000 others use the criteria to benchmark their performance.

Other states, including Colorado, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Washington, are considering similar legislation. In Vermont, a B Corp. bill has passed the Senate and will now work through the state Assembly in the next month.