More Businesses Pursue Triple Bottom Line for a Sustainable Economy

Colleen Cordes | Apr 25, 2013

As corporations of all sizes increasingly choose to monitor and report on their social and environmental impacts, a growing number of mostly small and medium-sized companies are going even further: they are volunteering to be held publicly accountable to a new triple bottom line—prioritizing people and the planet as well as profits.

Just how broadly, rapidly, and rigorously this movement can spread is of critical importance, given the supersized global impacts of for-profit enterprises. Sustainable economies are likely to remain elusive without substantial shifts in corporate norms. Recent data provide signs that such change is possible and indeed may even have begun.

Over the last 15 years, for example, the number of businesses of all sizes that choose to self-assess how sustainable their operations are, using widely accepted social and environmental standards, and to publicly disclose their results has been growing rapidly, especially in Europe and Asia. (See Figure 1.) 

Figure 1

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