The Triple Bottom Line Includes Many Factors

Written by: Leon Morales

The theory that companies should place the same emphasis on society and the environment as they do on profits – the triple bottom line (TBL) – has been around for almost 30 years. And now I am seeing younger generations in the workforce not only embrace this theory but expect it to be applied even more broadly.

For one, they clearly see the natural intersections of valuing people and the environment with DEI – diversity, equity and inclusion. After all, TBL advances that there should be three bottom lines – profit, people and the planet – and we no longer see “people” as a homogenous category.

Profit plus

Of course, businesses need to focus on profit to stay afloat, but ignoring DEI will impact the bottom line adversely. The next generation is looking for careers in organizations with a social impact, where people are valued, where the hiring processes and procedures are inclusive and actively recognize diversity and embrace a wide range of qualities and perspectives that applicants bring to the organization.

No longer are organizations able to attract people just with the almighty dollar, especially since COVID and global supply chain issues have cause so many people to revaluate why, how and where they work. Increasingly employees, potential employees, vendors and other constituencies demand that diversity, equity and inclusion not stop at tokenism.

An inclusive and diverse workforce does not stop at single, box-checking attributes like ethnic background or sexual orientation. And equity goes far beyond zero tolerance for discrimination, flexible working hours, job sharing, remote working and other elements and accommodations.

Behavioral diversity

One of the critical areas in recruiting people from underrepresented backgrounds is knowing their behaviors and personalities first and their talents second. Skills can be taught but adding a recruit to a team can make or break their output.

The only way to avoid recruitment bias is to use a scientifically validated process to reveal behavior and its impact on the relationship management either as part of a team or forward-facing with customers.

Only then can DEI indeed be seen to bring diverse perspectives to business and decision-making, demonstrating how to blend multiple perspectives into a coherent, successful team – this impacts the success of the bottom line. And this approach must begin at the board and leadership level.

Not only is it the legal responsibility of the employer to consider every candidate equally, but it’s also the organization’s reputation at stake. More potential recruits now weigh where they will put their talent and energy; almost always, they will research a firm to understand its approach to DEI. That’s why I believe the hiring process should begin with a behavioral profile, then consider the skill set.

Some solutions are simple

Talking recently to a colleague, she told the story of how in her 30s she was promoted to be the head of a department of 90 people. On her first day she was faced with a kaleidoscope of colors, languages, smells (from lunch boxes being microwaved) and loud voices. As an Irish girl, she was very used to large groups and loud voices, but this, she observed, was not a level playing field.

Her first directive was to introduce Friday Mash-Up, wherein each group – and we’re talking a very diverse group in every sense – would bring snacks of their choice for end-of-day relaxation.

As she painted this picture, she explained that, within four weeks of the kickoff of Friday Mash-Up, the entire department was running smoothly; through this simple acknowledgment of the richness each group brings to the workplace, respect was built, everyone felt valued and, more importantly, they all worked together to achieve the set goals.

The only downside: She became overwhelmed by the number of people from other departments wanting to transfer to hers.

Embrace diversity. And the “diversity” of the triple bottom line. Let me know of your experiences balancing multiple success metrics like the triple bottom line and behavioral diversity.

Related: Diversity in Sensory Experiences and the Implications for Business