As for the social dimension, it would then relate to another one of the 3P's that Elkington mentioned which is known as 'people'. The social dimension is considered somewhat intrinsic with the environmental dimension. It is believed that in some way, one dimension can affect the other if there were changes in any one domain. What it mainly focuses on is the impact of organizations, firms or corporations have on the social system within in which it operates.
Due to this, "the expectations of diverse groups of internal and external stakeholders as well as interest groups comprising civil society are genuinely considered and skillfully balanced" (Jamali, 2006). In other words, this social dimension serves to maximize the positive and beneficial impacts of a firm's operations on broader society not just limited among them. All in all, the social bottom line can be said to incorporate most issues or rather, any issues pertaining to public health, social issues or community issues, public controversies, social justice, human rights, working conditions, labor rights, equal opportunity and basically, anything in relation to human social elements.
From a social perspective, Torjman (2000) believed "that human well-being cannot be sustained without a healthy environment and is equally unlikely in the absence of a vibrant economy". It is this 'people' factor that help strengthen social structure of organizations and come together to work towards a collective or common goal. The main priority however, of this section is that it was made to promote a healthier work environment, for both employee and employer, eradicate exploitation of labors, whether foreign or local labor, and also to keeping tabs of projects by monitoring and through effective collaboration.
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Now that all three areas of the triple bottom line have been covered, it is safe to say that sustainability and the triple bottom line is indeed a necessity in today's demanding world. After all that has been said thus far, it is a clear enough indication on how important sustainability is and how the integration of the triple bottom line is vital into today's businesses or corporations. Therefore it is fair to say that sustainable development is considered a holistic approach which has the capacity to improve the quality of life (Kolk, 1999).
The advantages of incorporating this framework even go as far as to create a new job market. However, despite the advantages and benefits that TBL bring economically, environmentally or even socially, there are certain setbacks or limitations that come with. This is because although many appreciate the advancement that CSR has attained, there are still parties or quarters that are unhappy with certain corporations. It is alleged that these particular corporations are only acting in self interest.
There are even claims relating to multinational corporations that are pretending to be ethical in areas that are monitored or more regulated, for example North America. This however is not the same because consequently as this ethical practice is done, unethical practices are being done elsewhere in other parts of the world, some worrying even to the point of being involved with cheap child labour. Although some corporations are never charged for their indecencies or escape punishment, it is near impossible to escape the reality of the general public knowing of any indecent ordeal a particular corporation practices after being exposed (Robinson, 2000).
The problem is because many stubborn companies that claim to be socially responsible more often than none tend to not live up to such standards. Hence, more accountability needs to be practiced among corporations and more pressure by the public needs to be put to rest this problem (Elkington, 1999). In any case, with successive implementation of the triple bottom line, companies are expected to perform well in both financial and non-financial areas such as business ethics, environmental policies and human rights, to name a few. However, everything aside, ultimately, the important note to be made here is that many business leaders today have discovered what it means to measure performance against the triple bottom line (Kleine & von Hauff, 2009).
Evidently, the mix of economic growth concerns, environmental protection concerns and social equity concerns were once deemed an impossible and impractical ethic. Yet based on today's outcome, the very mix once deemed impractical has now begun to define long term strategy and everyday practice for leading manufacturing corporations globally. Hopefully the essay's question on why 'The triple bottom line should be viewed as a new goal by businesses'.
In conclusion, sustainability and the triple bottom line is an ongoing process that still has the unfolding potential to contribute when it comes to corporate social responsibility. Van de Bergh too argued that "a balanced adaptive process of change in a multi-dimensional complex integrated system" (Van de Bergh, 1996). A new measure of corporate performance has been made possible and this is achieved through balancing traditional economic goals together with social and environmental concerns (McDonough & Braungart, 2002).
As the concept is still being digested by some parts of the corporate culture, many are already enjoying the perks and benefits of the implementation of the triple bottom line. With the triple bottom line framework, it encourages the growth in manufacturing products that not only enhance and maintain the well being of nature and culture but also generating extra economic value. Suffice to say, once the core principles in regards to ecologically intelligent design have been widely applied, the growth potential for both nature and commerce will be off the charts.
Though, time and time again, it must be stressed that the co-operation from corporations must be given in full extent for these methods to be successfully implemented. Keeping the environment clean and healthy is everyone's responsibility. The future generation deserves a chance of being a part of this clean and healthy environment. Finally, the phrase 'No Profit without Planet and People' is the perfect rule to abide by in the context of triple bottom line and to conclude this essay.
1. Elkington, J. (1998), "Partnerships from cannibals with forks: The triple bottom line of 21st-century business", Environment Quality Management, Vol. 1, 37-51.
2. Elkington, J. (1999), "The link between accountability and sustainability - theory put into practice", paper presented at Conference on the Practice of Social Reporting for Business, ISEA, 19 January, Commonwealth Conference Center, London.
3. Elkington, J. (2004), "The triple bottom line: Does it all add up", available at: http://www.johnelkington.com/TBL-elkington-chapter.pdf (accessed April 24, 2011).
4. Gray, R., Kouhy, R. and Lavers, S. (1995), "Corporate social and environmental reporting", Accounting, Auditing ; Accountability Journal, Vol. 8 No. 2, pp. 47-77.
5. ICC (2002), Business in Society: Making a Positive and Responsible Contribution, International Chamber of Commerce, London.
6. Jamali, D. (2006), "Insights into triple bottom line integration from a learning organization perspective", Business Process Management Journal, Vol. 12 No. 6, pp. 809-21.
7. Kleine, A. and von Hauff, M. (2009), "Sustainability-driven implementation of corporate social responsibility: application of the integrative sustainability triangle", Journal of Business Ethics, Vol. 85, pp. 517-34.
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