Triple Bottom Line (TBL)
Triple Bottom Line (TBL) captures the essence of sustainability, by
measuring the impact of an organization's activities on the world. The
Triple Bottom Line is commonly referred to as people (society), planet
(environment) and profits.
In conducting business, organizations should use not only financial
resources, but also environmental resources and social resources. A
positive Triple Bottom Line, reflects an increase in the company's
value, including both its profitability and shareholder value and its
social, human and environmental capital.
Is an organization that creates profits for its shareholders, while
protecting the environment and improving the lives of those with whom it
interacts. A sustainable corporation practices the Triple Bottom Line (TBL)
Stakeholders - Key to TBL Concepts
Marketeers generally pay more attention to their customers, rather
than stakeholders. This has to change and a stakeholder perspective
needs to be taken, if the TBL concept is to work.
Business today is carried out in an interdependent world and this
requires organizations and their marketeers to develop open
relationships with their stakeholders, for mutual benefit. In the long
run, this will create more profits for the organization and more social,
economic and environmental prosperity for society.
Marketeers contribution to TBL (Triple Bottom Line)
Although marketeers alone cannot ensure that the TBL concept is
practiced, they can play a vital part in the process.
If the environmental perspective is considered, Life Cycle Analysis (LCA)
is something that marketeers must understand and adopt. LCA is simply a
complete understanding of the overall environmental implications of the
services required by society.
This promotes the consideration of the cradle-to-grave implications
of any actions taken. Let us take the example of a company marketing
beverage products in paper based aseptic packaging. This company needs
to ensure that the used packages are either disposed with minimum
environmental impact or recycled for paper / pulp production. If this
initiative is taken, then this company is committed to sustainability
and the TBL concept.
Even retailers who market the beverage products of this company, need
to be committed to sustainability or else the company concerned will
find it really difficult to implement sustainability imitativeness.
With regard to social responsibilities, this beverage company should
ensure that the product is not harmful to consumers and the ingredients
used are in line with approved regulations.
The company should engage intermediaries that respect good labour
practices and human rights. For example, the company should not engage
middlemen that employ child labour or do not pay the minimum wages
stipulated. The company concerned can carry out intermediary and
supplier audits, as a commitment to good social and environmental
Another aspect of social responsibility, is supporting good social
causes referred to as corporate social responsibility (CSR).
The beverage company concerned can engage in meaningful CSR
initiatives, which is compatible with their corporate values and
industry specifics / dynamics.
For example, they can work in partnership with their suppliers on CSR
initiatives such as improving societal well being and quality of life.
Similarly, partnerships with intermediaries can also be forged to
initiate and implement CSR initiatives.
Marketeers cannot be committed to TBL alone
TBL is an organization wide initiative, that all departments must
understand and contribute.
Marketing being a “boundary opening” discipline, naturally is called
upon to become the CSR catalyst. Whilst this is acceptable, other supply
chain members within the organization must cooperate and support
marketers to drive CSR programmes.
TBL benefits must be quantified
People (society) and planet (environment) initiatives must be
measured in quantifiable terms. This will minimize the tension between
shareholders and TBL initiatives. (Most shareholders are only concerned
Message to Sri Lankan corporates
Do not engage in CSR activities for the sake of doing so. CSR is not
a fad that comes and goes. It is an organization-wide commitment to
protect the society and environment, whilst delivering value to
stakeholders. All CSR initiatives must be measured and quantified. After
all, shareholder funds are being utilized and accountability is a
Integrate all CSR initiatives, with the Triple Bottom Line (TBL)
This is what best run global companies have done and have achieved
economic, social and environmental success.
Work in partnership with supply chain partners on TBL /CSR
initiatives. It is not only cost effective but also easier to integrate
Take a stakeholder perspective in running the business. Understand
stakeholder needs and develop TBL initiatives accordingly. Marketing
activities should not only generate profits but also be meaningful to
society and protect the environment. The days of profit maximization at
any cost, is long over. Organizations that do not give consideration to
the society and environment, will face many pressures in the years to