As the home care market becomes increasingly competitive, two worker-owned cooperative home care agencies get proactive by becoming the first home care companies in the country to be certified B Corporations.
Cooperative Home Care Associates (CHCA), based in the Bronx, N.Y., and Home Care Associates (HCA) of Philadelphia, both affiliates of PHI, a nonprofit that advocates for the direct-care workforce, sought out certified B Corps status in the hope that the certification will differentiate each agency from others in a market that is rapidly expanding.
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“Home care is a really interesting business in that when people need it, it’s usually at a time of crisis and they don’t always know where to turn,” said Karen Kulp, president and CEO of HCA. “So, this (certified B Corps status), sort of, stamp of approval (will) help people understand what we’re about.”
Benefit corporations are a new class of corporation that puts a company’s mission at the core, encouraging a triple bottom line: people, planet and profits. Companies do not have to be incorporated as benefit corporations in their states to be certified B Corps; they must meet particular standards of social and environmental performance through nonprofit certifier B Lab to earn certification. CHCA and HCA achieved certification through B Lab, but are not incorporated in their respective states as benefit corporations.
“We’re always looking at ways to differentiate us from other companies that do the exact same thing,” said Michael Elsas, president of CHCA. CHCA has set itself apart for more than 25 years by valuing its workers, he said, but, “we’ve learned over the years, that that doesn’t necessarily sell.” Achieving certified B Corp status is marketable.
Since the two agencies have just achieved certified B Corp status, they’ll have to wait to find out if the certification brings them any business, but even if it doesn’t get them attention, becoming a benefit corporation serves a higher purpose, of sorts, by showing support for the B Corp philosophy.
“We’re in support of other companies becoming socially conscious, as we have been socially conscious and aware,” said Elsas. “… it’s a way of supporting that mechanism, if you will, for change.”