The triple bottom line trifecta of people, profit, and planet is a great concept, but it’s one that can be difficult for businesses to put into practice. Where profit is easily defined, pursued, and measured, the people and planet bottom lines are harder to understand in a concrete, actionable way. The obvious question that follows an understanding and acceptance of the triple bottom line value, then, is how can a business actually get started pursuing the additional bottom lines?
I believe mastering the concept ultimately involves an attitude and state of mind more than anything – a willingness and ability to make decisions keeping each interest in mind and in balance. But that’s mastery (and a level to which I, at least, can only aspire). Getting started shouldn’t require that depth of understanding – and it doesn’t.
B Labs and the B Impact Assessment
One answer to the “where do we start” question is B Labs, a nonprofit organization that aims to advance businesses that want to improve society and protect the environment while still pursuing a profit. Though B Labs is most widely known for the B Corps certification program that I’ll be discussing at a later date, the organization also administers the “B Impact Assessment.”
The Assessment is an online tool that walks businesses through a series of questions designed to measure impact on people and planet. Questions are tailored to your business’ size and industry, and focus on five points: governance, workers, community, environment, and customers. Completing the assessment provides a general baseline for your business and demonstrates areas for improvement by showing what you aren’t already doing.
The B Impact Assessment is not perfect, and it is not the only approach when getting started on the road to triple bottom line mastery. But it is a great tool for businesses that care about people, planet, and profit but just aren’t sure where to get started with the people and planet parts of the equation. If you’d like to give it a try to see how your business stacks up, you can try the B Impact Assessment here.
Noel French, Attorney at Thrive Legal, PLLC
Noel French is a Michigan licensed attorney at Thrive Legal, PLLC, where assists and advises businesses and non-profits with their legal needs in today’s rapidly changing environment. His practice is located in Midtown Detroit. His interest in SMSBF and sustainability generally comes from the hope that we can find a way to advance the world economically while still leaving a beautiful, habitable world for future generations.