What is triple bottom line reporting? The accounting concept was developed by John Elkington to change the way businesses, non profits and governments measure sustainability and the performance of projects or policies. It expands the traditional reporting framework that entities are accustomed to, taking into account social and environmental performance in addition to financial performance.
Or put simply, it’s about the three all-important Ps: Profit, people and planet. The calculation aims to measure the financial, social and environmental performance of the corporation over a period of time and argues that only a company that produces a TBL is taking account of the full cost involved in doing business.
And for companies looking to maximize their triple bottom line outcomes, upgrading and developing human capital is an essential part of achieving that metric.
Helping people to connect, grow, learn, flourish and self-actualize must be intertwined with a company’s strategy to improve products and services, serve customers and build their brand.
Growing awareness of TBL has impacted people policies at every level and in every geography. Sourcing policies have received attention, where companies have started to keep a closer eye on the ethical standards of their suppliers in markets where labour is unregulated and manufacturers are able to ride roughshod over social and environmental standards.
At the other end of the spectrum, maintaining community connections and building alumni networks feeds into TBL policies. Keeping close contact and up-to-date connections with alumni extends the already meaningful relationship a company has with its former employees. In this era of contingent labour, their former workforce are friends and evangelists as well as potential re-hires.
If organizations set out with the right agenda, with alumni at the heart of the communities they are building as opposed to a stiff corporate goal, the relationship between the two is positive and flourishes. Long after alumni have moved to different pastures, both parties must value their relationship. And where that value and respect is acknowledged, stronger ties follow.
For more insight into Elkington’s term and the thinking behind it, you can read a chapter of his book here.