At Organo, one of the country’s leading sustainable projects and the only net zero community in India, the driving principle in all aspects is the Triple Bottom Line (TBL). Every aspect is aligned towards accomplishing this mission. For the promoters – Vijaya, Nagesh and Rajendra – TBL is topmost in the list of their priorities. Years of painstaking research and consistent work have led to the outcome of creating a business model that is in line with Organo’s mission of aligning with the TBL philosophy.
So what exactly is Triple Bottom line?
TBL is a concept, a philosophy, a vision of creating a financial bottom line by including social and environmental responsibilities. Simply put, TBL measures a company’s degree of social responsibility, its financial value and the impact the business has on the environment.
The phrase was coined in 1994 by John Elkington, an authority on environment and sustainability and used by him in his book “Cannibals with Forks: The Triple Bottom Line of 21st century.” A key challenge with the TBL, according to Elkington, is the difficulty of measuring the social and environmental bottom lines, which necessitates the three separate accounts being evaluated on their own merits. Having studied the TBL concept in-depth, the promoters of Organo have left no stone unturned, quite literally, to ensure that their business model does not lose sight of synchronising all three aspects at every stage of development.
Now, let’s break down the Triple Bottom Line
Let’s tackle the aspect of profit first. A company’s bottom line essentially means its net income, its profits. The addition of social and environmental responsibilities can have a positive effect on a company’s financial bottom line. A Nielsen report released in October 2015 found 73% of millennials, which represents the largest consumer demographic in the US history, were willing to pay more for sustainable goods, an increase of 46% from 2014. The study found 56% of consumers were willing to pay more for products offered by companies committed to social values.
In addition to growing revenues, companies are integrating social and environmental standards with corporate governance policies, which can reduce the chances of brand-damaging events and missteps. In addition to governance benefits, the transformation to a triple bottom line is increasingly seen as a vital factor in building corporate brands and goodwill, which represent 30% of the value of public companies, on an average.
Where does Organo stand? (Organo impact) (Box item)
- Organo’s triple bottom line is intended to advance the goal of sustainability in business practices, in which the focus is extended beyond profits to include social and environmental issues to measure the total cost of doing business.
- Organo’s principal policy is to consider the social and environmental areas in addition to the financial bottom line while making positive investments (Link to the full length blog) and business decisions.
- Organo is a proof of the TBL concept that it is possible to run an organization in a way that not only earns financial profits but also betters people’s lives and helps the planet. The driving conviction is in giving back to the nature more than taking from it.
It can be challenging to maximize financial returns while also doing the greatest good for the people and the environment. Consider a Pharmaceutical manufacturer whose best way to maximize profits might be to hire the least expensive labour possible and to dispose off the chemical waste in the cheapest way possible. The result might be highest possible profits for the company but miserable working and living conditions for labourers, and damage to the natural environment and the people who live in that environment. In the past, such practices were more socially acceptable, but today, many consumers are willing to pay more for products if it means that workers are paid fair wages and the environment is being respected in the production process.
Where does Organo stand?
- Adding the ‘people’ element of social responsibility to its bottom line, as well as enacting favourable practices in the communities where they work is Organo’s hallmark.
- Organo has made farmers as stakeholders in the project. From creating awareness, developing skills, imparting organic farming methods and providing the necessary organic raw material to buying back the produce at fixed rates regardless of the market fluctuations thereby eliminating the middle men, Organo has formed symbiotic partnerships with the farmers in the neighbouring communities.
The bottom line referred to as the `planet’ represents the implementation of sustainable practices and establishing a net zero community. These measures range in scope from green initiatives such as recycling programs within corporations to companies dedicated to manufacturing products using only sustainable materials.
An organic farm is like reforestation. They are thriving with diverse habitats for various animal, bird and insect groups. Indigenous animals and birds find them a safe haven while beneficial insects allow for greater balance. Thus, a healthy combination of inhabitant groups ensures constant connection with the buzz of the nature.
Food is a ‘language’ spoken in every culture. Making this language organic allows for an important cultural revolution whereby diversity and biodiversity are embraced and chemical toxins and environmental harm are radically reduced. The simple act of saving one seed from extinction could be an act of biological and cultural conservation.
Measuring the TBL
The Triple Bottom Line can be difficult to measure because while the issue of profitability is black and white, what constitutes social and environmental responsibility is somewhat subjective. How do you put a value on an oil spill — or on the prevention of one? How do you measure the cost of child labour? Does it benefit children and their families by allowing them to rise out of poverty, or does it perpetuate poverty by denying children sufficient time to get educated and deprive them of a carefree childhood?
The upside of this lack of standardized measurement is that metrics can be adopted that make the most sense for each organization, project or location. And that’s what Organo does.
Organo way of business
- Organo believes strongly in job creation, ethical employment, energy generation and conservation, waste management, workplace benefits for employees while making the project profitable.
- Organo carefully considers while investing money and human resources in the project, if they can contribute to the three goals or focus solely on profit at the cost of the other two because they are conscious of the life threatening consequences that arise when your focus is mainly profit.
- There are definite metrics at Organo to measure the impact at various levels – ecological, social, financial and individual.