We are currently facing some of the most difficult global challenges in a generation: inclusion, recession, and depletion.
Inclusion: nearly three billion people will enter the global middle class in the next 20 years.
Recession: the global economy is still feeling the effects of the 2008 financial meltdown.
Depletion: the climate is warming, which is straining our resources and depleting nearly two-thirds of our ecosystems (e.g. soil, fish and forests).
But there is good news.
While these problems are escalating worldwide, there has been a growing movement in the business community toward “triple bottom line” solutions—those that focus on people, profit, and the planet. Triple bottom line solutions actually enable companies to solve customer problems while driving increased profitably and improving society.
Sound too good to be true?
There is an increasing body of research to support this claim. For example, R. Paul Herman’s Human Impact + Profit (HIP) methodology tracks, rates, and ranks companies’ quantifiable impact on society, connecting “doing well” with “doing good.” The research from Paul’s 8-year old company shows consistent improvements in results with triple bottom-line strategies. While Paul’s ground-breaking book The HIP Investor is targeted at current or prospective business owners, the HIP Scorecard is also a management system that shows how business leaders can benefit from doing the right thing, the right way.
Simplification is almost always a good idea, particularly when you are attempting to focus a large group to act on complex global challenges. Since research supports exponential returns with this approach, I offer this equation as the new measure of business success:
Responsibility3 = people + profit + planet
Want even better news?
There is a dramatic increase in the number of business leaders who are working together and taking a Responsibility3 focus. Networks of these enlightened leaders are quickly growing around the world, and they include small to medium sized companies (the American Sustainable Business Council has over 200,000 members) as well as some of the world’s largest companies (the World Business Council for Sustainable Development has over 170 multinational members). These networks also include more established groups that are adding Responsibility3 to their existing charters (the Young Presidents’ Organization has over 21,000 members worldwide). These groups are all focused on exponential vs. incremental change.
Building on this momentum, several of these powerful networks recently chose to align. As a result, the Business Alliance for the Future was formed. And while work is underway to determine how best to measure progress in all three areas, this alliance of networks has chosen as its motto: “The future of business is making the future its business.”
The bottom line: Business is increasingly taking responsibility for a truly sustainable future.
That’s really good news.