In the sustainability movement over the last several decades there has been a lot of emphasis on the Triple Bottom Line (TBL). In traditional business accounting the “bottom line” refers to financial profit and losses. TBL companies consider not only fiscal losses and returns but also the environmental and social losses and benefits that result from their products and business operations. TBL companies ask, ”How can I minimize the environmental and social damage my company does?” TBL is most often represented by the terms People Profit and Planet.
That in itself is a major step forward toward a more fair and less damaging economy. But more recently there is a growing movement of entrepreneurs asking a different question, which is, “How can I create or work for a for-profit company that intentionally exists to improve the environment and all peoples’ lives?” These companies are coming to be known as Quadruple Bottom Line (QBL) enterprises. They focus on People Profit and Planet, but also add Purpose.
The fourth bottom line provides an opportunity for companies to focus on creating products and business models that are intentionally designed to improve the health of the planet and community wellbeing. QBL businesses are purpose-driven, designed not only to make money, but to do so in a way that benefits the environment and the cultural and spiritual wellbeing of their employees, customers and communities.
This QBL approach is now evolving into an international movement. The Economy for the Common Good (ECG), started in October 2010 on the initiative of a dozen companies in Austria with just that objective in mind: the economy has to be brought in line with constitutional values such as human dignity, cooperation, sustainability, social justice and transparency. The movement has now spread to over 20 countries, including over 1800 businesses and 100 local chapters. It is just now moving into the United States.
3EStrategies is delighted to be working with several QBL companies. We believe this approach is hugely important to creating a more just, sustainable, even restorative economy.