Originally aired November 10th, 2010

Listen to the audio:

    or download here (right-click, save as)

A triple bottom line company is usually defined as one that makes an effort to consider the social and ecological consequences of its actions, in addition to the financial ones, establishing people, planet, and profit as the three criteria for measuring success. Nowadays, most companies claim to value social and environmental responsibility, whether or not they practice it in reality.

But these claims seem to run contrary to traditional economics. Are companies that put broader social and environmental concerns ahead of profits denying their competitive nature and dooming themselves to failure?

Actually, a growing body of evidence suggests that the triple bottom line can be a viable business strategy and not just a marketing ploy. Successful companies need talented, committed employees and loyal customers. More and more business enterprises understand that the most talented employees measure professional success in terms of meaning and significance as well as money and status. And consumers increasingly want to buy from companies that do business in a socially and environmentally sustainable manner.

At the same time, traditional “hard” performance metrics have not gone away: companies still measure success in terms of units sold, savings realized and dollars earned, and will do so for as long as capitalism endures. In this webcast, we tackle the challenge of how companies can do well by doing good:

  • How do companies with TBL values measure success?
  • Can business really expect financial returns beyond good PR out of TBL investments?
  • How can we distinguish real CSR and environmental stewardship from greenwashing? Why should businesses choose one route over the other?
  • What kind of difference to consumer behavior does operating with TBL values make?

ImageRyan Schuchard is Manager for Climate and Energy at BSR. His recent work includes starting BSR’s Energy Efficiency Partnership for supply chain management, launching Walmart’s global supplier energy-efficiency program based at their global procurement headquarters in Shenzhen, and leading global climate policy intelligence for a US$30 billion-plus extractives company. He has co-authored chapters in Corporate Responses to Climate Change (Greenleaf Publishing) and Carbon Trading (ICFAI Books), in addition to numerous reports and articles.

ImageNick Aster is founder of TriplePundit.com, and specializes in using online technology to advance conversations on sustainability. He has worked with Mother Jones magazine, as well as companies including Nike, SAP, Citibank, Gawker Media, Offermatica, and many others. Nick worked for many years on TreeHugger.com, the most popular environmental website in the world. He holds an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio School of Management and graduated with a BA in History from Washington University in St. Louis.

ImageDebbra A. K. Johnson is the Global Marketing Manager for Sustainable Operations and Clean Technologies - two DuPont Sustainable Solutions practices that work to help clients achieve triple bottom line results. With hands-on experience in Life Cycle Assessments, Debbra has completed package printing and platemaking LCA’s for DuPont Packaging Graphics, and went on to launch a program to recover and reuse printing plate waste – a first in the industry. She is a member of the DuPont Sustainability Network, a frequent presenter, and she serves on the Sustainable Green Printing Partnership Board of Directors.