Triple Bottom Line and Corporate Social Responsibility

In 1990’s author John Elkington introduced 21st Century business world with a new term Triple Bottom Line, which is a system which would broaden a concept of company’s success by going beyond measuring it by its economic growth only, adding social and environmental aspects to it (profit, people and planet). Successful and sustainable business would have to consider people at any point affected and in participation, making sure local communities are engaged and fair wages are paid for the workers, if the business impacts positively on the local economy and the environment, how well are the local legislation’s complied etc.

However, it has become necessary to question companies and hold them responsible for any unsustainable or unethical actions. CSR or Corporate Social Responsibility demands for business to go beyond the requirements, as legislation often too poor, for an example minimum wage in many places is far from the living wage. Since many companies have been investigated and different misconducts were brought to light to public, it is now in any company’s interest to justify themselves and prove their care for the environment and people.

Many businesses are now trying to portray themselves as ethical with the help of various campaigns with the help of adverts shown on social media, television and anywhere online. It is questionable if corporations are truly being responsible or if their effort go only as far as it is enough to show public a piece of them “making a difference”.

For an example, the guilty for being caught unethical fashion giant H&M created their Conscious Campaign to a World Recycle Week with an aim to collect 1000 tonnes of clothes to recycle while giving away vouchers promoting consumerism. It is debatable if this made big enough environmental difference, as according to Lucy Siegle it would take H&M 12 years to recycle such an amount of donations, an amount of clothing that brand produces in 2 days.

Often ideas and issues brands claim to tackle are way too grand, however very impressive.

Conco Coffee launched an amazing campaign of combating the gang issue in San Pedro Sula, Republic of Honduras in Central America one of the most homicidal and dangerous city in the world. “Coffee vs Gangs” gave a hope for a different 20 young people at risk of falling to gangs, by providing a 1 year long course of growing coffee while living on a remote farm. An amazing and dangerous attempt for a company to change lives with a collaboration with artists to create short real life story films to be shown in public. Again, does company truly cares about tackling the gang issue in San Pedro Sula or is it all just big enough to show to public and appear like making a difference?

There are many examples of companies trying to appear better by collaborating with celebrities, creating films, adverts, campaigns and promising changes. Can any corporations be believed to have a real interest in being ethical? Should businesses inform consumers not only of their attempts in CSR but also of their misdeeds?


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