I've been reading a great deal about the triple bottoms line. Is your business thinking about more than just profit? Increasingly now, how a business behaves impacts on market perception and ultimate sales. Costa coffee being a recent case where customers being put off by the tax being paid, despite no rules being broken. Trial by social media is now common place. Can companies continue to ignore triple bottom line and what assurances can you give that what you say in your financial statements is actually being done?
The phrase “the triple bottom line” was first coined in 1994 by John Elkington. His argument was that companies should be preparing three different bottom lines. One is the traditional measure of corporate profit—the “bottom line” of the profit and loss account. The second is the bottom line of a company's “people account”—a measure in some shape or form of how socially responsible an organisation has been throughout its operations. The third is the bottom line of the company's “planet” account—a measure of how environmentally responsible it has been. The triple bottom line (TBL) thus consists of three Ps: profit, people and planet. It aims to measure the financial, social and environmental performance of the corporation over a period of time. Only a company that produces a TBL is taking account of the full cost involved in doing business.