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Incorporating the Triple Bottom Line

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While most companies share profit as their main focus, industry leaders must also begin incorporating social and environmental practices into their business plans. According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, the Securities and Exchange Commission has been called upon this week by activists, investors and social groups to create a mandate requiring businesses in all industries to create environmental and social reports following a set of standard guidelines. Now is the time to spotlight your environmental and social practices if your business has not already done so.

Some businesses have already taken steps to start incorporating social and environmental responsibilities into their business plans. But for those who have yet to address either one or both of these practices, it is crucial that with the possibility of this mandate being put into place, you begin addressing your current practices. Start by adopting the triple bottom line. That is, combining social, environmental and economic results as your business’s primary focus. Seek to optimize all three of these matters instead of one at the expense of another. Examples of economic practices would include sales, profit and ROI. Environmental practices might include your business’s produced waste or energy consumption. Some examples of social practices consist of labor practices, community impacts or product responsibility.

Although this may seem like a daunting task, there are ways to integrate the triple bottom line within your existing business strategy. First, when creating your forecasts, include a healthy environment, society and economy. Anticipate your business confronting and catering to these issues head on. Next, incorporate the triple bottom line in your decision making process. Make decisions that include circular systems instead of linear. For example, if your business is responsible for creating a consumer product, don’t think of the end of your job as getting the product sold to the consumer. Instead, think about what will happen to that product after the consumer is finished with it and how you can impact those results.

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