I have been contemplating the triple bottom line a lot lately and struggling a bit with the analogy of the three-legged stool. The generally accepted model of corporate social responsibility is that all three legs are equal in length and yet that seems a physical impossibility to me. I think just as reduce, re-use, recycle is a little known waste hierarchy, so too is there an indisputable order to the three P’s. Let’s consider a couple of scenarios.
Earlier this week, I had a conversation with a business professional, who claimed the order of things had to be profit, people, planet. Really? All I could envision was dollar bills floating in space.
I have also encountered those that believe the order of things is people, planet, profit. Again, deep space littered with people tethered to nothing. Highly unlikely.
Evolutionist or creationist, I think we can agree on one thing – the earth came first. Without a planet, you cannot support people. Without people, there is no opportunity for profit. The order must be planet, people, profit if we are indeed sincere about ensuring a sustainable future.
So for me this begs the question of which companies will be truly courageous in the near future? If my reasoning is at all sound, which companies will be first movers in declaring broad change — change that many consider impossible for fear that others will not follow and financial hardship will befall them? I trust the power of good ideas and I believe the competition will follow them, securing success for pioneer executives. What CEOs will become the iconic disrupters of traditional thought and revolutionists of a new era of business? I would like to know. I would like to meet them. Will it be a Net Impact member? Will it be you?