A business forum I attended a while back consisted of a panel of folks from various kinds of businesses, including a local bank, a cafe’/bakery, an architectural firm and local health care. The discussion revolved around how they each approached the overall idea of sustainability and the Triple Bottom Line (TBL) of People, Planet and Profit (or as they were presented: Social, Environmental and Economical). Each have very interesting and unique approaches, and the challenges they encountered (and still work through…) were instructive.
- Fair business practices – This would seem to be a no-brainer, but in a hyper-capitalist mindset, an “only-minded” drive for profit or so-called shareholder value can result in rapacious practices. Things to consider:
- Environmental impact – what is your footprint on the physical world around you?
- Recycle – Simple stuff like paper and plastic, but also physical equipment when you upgrade (PC recycle or perhaps donation).
- Conservation – Lights, heat, “vampire power” and the like in your physical plant.
- Transportation – No one disputes the need for face-to-face in the business world, but carefully weigh the need to travel and how you travel (route and mode [auto, train, bicycle, taxi, etc.]). Sometimes a video conferencing app like Google Hangouts or Skype will work just fine.
- Economic impact – beyond your revenue stream, what is the economic value created by the organization after deducting the cost of all inputs, including the cost of the capital tied up. It therefore differs from traditional accounting definitions of profit.
- Consider what the economic benefit of your business is to the society in which you live and work, and find ways to amplify it.