For many years large businesses focused only on the bottom line accounting practice of returning a profit for their shareholders, often at the expense of their employees and local communities. Acting with integrity, and responding to moral, social, cultural and environmental responsibilities had frequently fallen by the wayside.
The triple bottom line refers to the practise of including three aspects: environmental balance, social inclusion and economic growth, to describe a sound business model.
The quadruple bottom line includes culture.
More recently however, there is a growing awareness of the need for businesses to achieve economic, social and cultural growth without irreversibly damaging the ecological systems that support that growth. Culture is recognised as the fourth pillar of corporate responsibility in a sustainable business model and is considered to be where values, meaning and purpose in life originate and gel, to form a healthy society.
Whilst this model began in the government sector, businesses at the forefront of its adoption are working towards being sustainable and responsible by looking towards a future where growth in one area creates positive benefits in all areas. They are aware that it's valuable for employees, shareholders and management to acknowledge that they're part of something bigger than themselves.
Sustainable development is often referred to as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Increasingly local businesses and councils are leading the way in proactively addressing climate change and sustainability. They’re taking responsibility for the environment through waste minimisation, energy analysis and taking an interest in social and cultural responsibility to increase morale, reduce absenteeism and improve overall work performance. In short, they find that these efforts increase efficiency and productivity and therefore increase the bottom line, not decrease it!
Ideally, governments worldwide will begin to confidently pursue cultural responsibility through good governance and a wider understanding of people's needs, desires and goals in life. This would undoubtedly facilitate wise and effective long term planning rather than focusing on the short period between elections.
Of interest is recent research showing that businesses offering Mindfulness Meditation or similar training for their employees is having a positive benefit. Employees have found that spending time on these practices increases job satisfaction, enhances focus, decreases absenteeism and the number of job related accidents, decreases stress and generally improves their lives both on and off the job. The research “presents compelling evidence that mindfulness-based practices may be a fruitful addition to organisational wellness programes.” (Glomb et al)
Businesses thinking more holistically are addressing new ways to produce services and products with an eye on our collective futures. They -
1. Recognise the human needs of employees, stakeholders and all other parties the business impacts on
2. Protect the environment and are aware of the needs of all communities impacted by the company
3. Use natural resources wisely
4. Accept that constant growth may not be possible or desirable for the long term viability of the company.
Last year I wrote about the Qualities we instil in our children for Q for my theme of workplace bullying. Here and Quinces here.