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Triple Bottom Line. The simple things to do around the office

Sukh Salh


Many leading corporations (big and small) are adopting environmentally sustainable practices. Some of these companies have gone so far as to formalize Triple Bottom Line reporting.

What is the Triple Bottom Line? In his book, "Cannibals With Forks: The Triple Bottom Line of 21st Century Business”, John Elkington describes it in the following way. It's a bottom line that continues to measure profits, but also measures the organization's impact on people and on the planet.

The three “P’s”, of The Triple Line are:

People - These include your employees, customers and shareholders.

Planet- Ensuring that business practices and processes are not unsafe or unhealthy for the planet

Profit - This is common to every bottom line. Without explicitly discussing profits and the need for them, environmental programs seldom get real buy in. However, profits must empower and sustain the entire community.

Having said this, it is important to remember that Triple Bottom Line is only a reporting system and doesn’t in and of itself drive any impacts on people or the environment. What it can do is help the organization focus on specific actions that drive improvements in how you impact people, in and out of your organization and the impact on the environment.

There are some obvious measures that organizations take. These include major investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy. Some organizations make significant changes to operations to reduce fuel consumption or engage in life cycle costing for major equipment purchases. I would suggest that there are also small changes that make an impact to an organization. These small impacts often lead to an increased intrinsic value in the organization especially by employees.

When it comes to minor costs and operational processes, there is the “we have always done this” syndrome or the “why bother its so small” attitude. However, by focusing on a few of small items you begin to change culture. Remembering that corporate culture is a reflection of the employees’ attitudes and beliefs; if they believe that a small item is a big deal, then it changes culture.

If all employees turn off their monitors before going out for lunch as a matter of course, then that action, however small, will lead them to make other bigger decisions and begin to change the attitude of the entire organization. I would argue that focusing a few simple things that are no cost or low cost, would have far reaching impacts and, over the long term, affect the Triple Bottom Line.

Being a supplier of reusable moving boxes for office moves, I see the impacts first hand. Moreover, I hear what employees are saying when they make moves using sustainable practices. These small impacts are far reaching.