How Can Companies Implement the Triple Bottom Line Approach?

Today’s article is an overview of one of the concepts used regularly when it comes to Corporate Social Responsibility. In the past years, we have noticed that the triple bottom line approach started to be used more frequently by social entrepreneurs, ethical businesses and more concussions organizations.  

This article is meant to raise awareness and share some light and insights on the Triple Bottom Line Framework that has been around since 1994, when it was first discussed. With the TBL approach, companies are invited to not only focus on their strict, organizational, business activities, but look past them and integrate their moral compass in their day to day business. This means that with this concept, companies need to consider some aspects of their business and re-analyze their position, goals and growth plan moving forward.

In this article, we will discuss: what is the triple bottom line approach, what does it mean for companies to consider having a triple bottom line approach in their business, how is the TBL seen and a few examples.  

What is the Triple Bottom Line Approach? 

As slightly mentioned in the introduction, the Triple Bottom Line Approach was first discussed and introduced in 1994 and has been around and growing popularity since then. 

While the TBL is a new concept and has been attributed to be close in line with Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), it is important to mention that CSR is not a new concept. CSR was firstly introduced in 1953 but there were discussions about it, far before then. If you want to learn more about CSR and when it first started, please check out the our article on: What is CSR and why Does it matter in Business.

To get back to our definition and without oversimplifying it, the Triple Bottom Line has been called by many, either:

  • The Triple Bottom Line Approach
  • The Triple Bottom Line Theory
  • The Triple Bottom Line Framework
  • The Triple Bottom Line Strategy

While all of these names, in essence are different, they actually mean the same thing and have at the core, the same beliefs. 

The core message of the TBL approach is that the company is responsible for more than just the growth and profit of the organization but that it has a moral action to be equally and socially responsible on three scales: economic, social and environmental. 

The goal of this framework is to be successful and sustainable on all pillars and have: economic sustainability, social sustainability and environmental sustainability. These pillars are the road to long-term sustainability success.

In essence, the Triple Bottom Line Approach refers to: Profit, People, Planet.

What does the Triple Bottom Line Approach mean to companies? 

This underlines that for companies, it is no longer enough to solemnly work on their day to day activities without incorporating their efforts in becoming more sustainable in all of the: economic, social and environmental aspects. 

This means that companies are “pushed” to rethink their strategies and actions in order to align with: CSR, sustainability and the triple bottom line framework. 

There have been studies and market research initiatives that underlined that customers are more likely to purchase from companies that are socially responsible and are involved in the good of the planet or good of the people.

The same studies apply for employees as well, which in the studies, more than half of customers confirmed that they are more likely to work for companies that create value and meaning in the world. 

We have to understand and foresee that the company’s views are changing and we have to be part of it. 

The employees views are changing and that the consumer is looking to be more socially responsible on their end too. With so many growing options and alternatives everyone, is it expected of us to be part of the change and learn to differentiate a growing, changing market. 

Some of the benefits of the Triple Bottom Line Approach, include: 

  • the fact that companies are encouraged to think beyond profit numbers and look at other aspects including: social and environmental issues. 
  • encourages a new way of doing business
  • encourages long term thinking and taking initiative and awareness on things that matter and make a difference 
  • reintegrated moral values in all aspects of a business
  • supports change by becoming an example 
  • extends the views of what sustainability is
  • encourages CSR reporting

How can Companies Implement the Triple Bottom Line Approach?

First and foremost, before implementing an actual Triple Bottom Line Approach in an organization it is important to start from the beginning. 

At this point, we know that with the TBL Framework, companies need to take into account the following aspects: 

  • Economic (Profit)
  • Social (People) 
  • Environmental (Planet)

But all of these aspects have a lot of activities piled up in the background. Let’s take the Social TBL aspect as an example.

In order to be in line with the TBL approach from a Social perspective, you need to take in the account a lot of things, out of which, these can include (but not limit to):

  • Current Society’s Requests
  • Current Society’s Needs
  • Anticipation of the Society’s Requests and Needs in the next years
  • Employee Satisfaction
  • Job Safety and Security
  • Workforce Equality
  • Working Conditions
  • Adapting to New types of Working Conditions (Check out our article of best practices and tips based on 4+Years of working from home) 

Our Advice Before Implementing the TBL Framework

From where we stand, our view is that the TBL approach and even any CSR initiatives that your organization plans to run cannot be taken lightly. They are in depth strategies and approaches, that even if they sound easy to do or implement, require a lot of thinking, knowledge and points to be considered before diving in deep. 

Our recommendation is to, (as in everything else), consult or work with a specialist that has been around this field many years and has gathered the necessary experience to help you on your journey to become a more sustainable company or brand. 

Additionally, working with someone qualified can also help you measure the results of your Triple Bottom Line Strategy, which we all know paints a bigger picture in reinforcing all the values your company stands for. 

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