TRY: The 3 Bottom Lines

"What's new is a focused effort to bring more values back into the business equation, and bring more enterprise skill sets into the non-profit equation." This "hybrid zone," as Solomon calls it, has been gaining momentum for the last 30 years, and hinges on the concept of the triple bottom line (3BL). 3BL organizations prioritize "people, planet and profit."

By Kate Webb - Metro News

 

Lounging on a cushion of pillows upstairs at the Hollyhock centre on Cortes Island, multimillionaire investor Joel Solomon holds court, offering a series of one-on-one business strategy consultations to as many eager entrepreneurs as he can manage.

It is the second-last day of summer and 150 small enterprise leaders and venture capitalists have gathered at the windswept beach retreat for the 18th annual Social Venture Institute (SVI), which is like sleep-away camp for grown ups who want to change the world through business, charities, and non-profits.

"There have always been business people who were caring, good citizens and they did things like hand out jackets in the winter and give to charity," Solomon explains, in between bites of a vegetarian lunch yielded by the sprawling gardens outside.

"What's new is a focused effort to bring more values back into the business equation, and bring more enterprise skill sets into the non-profit equation."

This "hybrid zone," as he calls it, has been gaining momentum for the last 30 years, and hinges on the concept of the triple bottom line (3BL). 3BL organizations prioritize "people, planet and profit." That means that in addition to balancing their books they also consider the social and environmental costs of doing business so that they don't get passed on to the rest of society.

For example, if a corporation shows a monetary profit, but their asbestos mine causes hundreds of deaths from asbestosis, and their uranium mine pollutes a river and lowers land values, the government might end up spending millions on health care and river clean-up.

Triple bottom line business must yield to such externalities. 3BL businesses and non-profits might mitigate their impacts by finding ways to eliminate toxic byproducts, reducing carbon emissions, paying employees a living wage or creating jobs for people with barriers to employment. READ MORE

Image: Ship stranded by the retreat of the Aral Sea, Image Credit: Staecker