Sep 19, 2019

When do-gooders don't

An illustration of blue and red hands intertwined.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

We, the parent company of WeWork, is on a very high-minded mission. That mission is, literally, "to elevate the world's consciousness."

Reality check: We is also a company whose founder, CEO, and controlling shareholder is reportedly happy to leave "a sizable chunk" of marijuana in a chartered Gulfstream jet, opening up its owner to significant criminal liability. The same man "instructed staff to fire 20% of employees a year."

Between the lines: Kickstarter is a company dedicated to having a "radically positive impact on society." As a chartered Benefit Corporation, it attests that it's more interested in its community than in its profits.

  • Kickstarter is also fighting a unionization drive. It has fired 3 of the 8 members of its union organizing committee, and refuses to voluntarily recognize the union.
  • Kickstarter is risking its much-vaunted status by doing so. "Specific actions taken against a unionization drive may jeopardize a company’s B Corp status," a representative of B Lab, the company that certifies companies as B Corps, tells Axios.

Etsy used to be a B Corp, but then it fired its CEO and more than 200 other employees, gave up its B Corp status and started becoming much more profitable.

The bottom line: Companies love to talk about their grand ideals. But those ideals can get thrown under the bus very quickly if profits lie elsewhere.

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