As we all explore how we might be able to return to some new kind of normality let’s all please ensure that we do not return to the old ways. We need a new style of business leadership one that sees beyond the profit one that embraces the “Triple Bottom Line”.
The triple bottom line is a sustainability-based accounting method that focuses on people, profit and planet. Historically, most companies' time, energy and resources have focused on their financial bottom lines – securing the best performance for their shareholders. This single profit focused approach is flawed. The Covid 19 pandemic has impacted every person in the world and demonstrated that people are key to everything. All people must be cared for and valued.
Consumers and employees are more engaged and socially conscious, they want to work for companies and support businesses that make money while also positively contributing to society and working for the greater good. They hold businesses accountable for their choices and the impact those choices have on a local and global scale. The triple bottom line differs from traditional reporting frameworks because it includes ecological and social aspects that are often difficult to measure. The idea is that by improving in any one sector, you'll improve the company overall.
The triple bottom line is like a three-legged stool, with one leg representing people, one leg representing the planet and one leg representing profit. Clearly the people leg is in need of attention, we have all be rocked by the pandemic, we are riddled with uncertainty and as we all know uncertainty is toxic for our economic recovery.
Confidence comes from people; the actions of our leaders are crucial at this time. Our leaders must manage providing direction, guidance, and reassurance while acknowledging that the path ahead isn’t clear. Doing one thing without the other doesn’t work. Both are needed to help people find the clarity and strength to move forward. When uncertainty subsides, confidence returns, and economic recovery unlocks.
So, I ask our leaders to put People first, to invest in trust and kindness. Start always with trust; trust your employees to work hard, to deliver, do the right thing, to look after themselves, to look their colleagues, to look after the business; and if they are challenged in any of these areas it is your job to show compassion, to show kindness.
Good leaders get emotional. How wonderful was it, in March, to see tears in Stormont, from one of our leaders? To openly witness, although just a glimpse, that our leaders, our politicians, are real, are human. Those who felt uncomfortable by the display of emotion will hopefully have learned from it. We all need to learn to embrace emotion and to see hope and compassion in an open and honest reaction to a truly horrendous situation. Women are emotional, and that makes us amazing. Crying is a sign of strength, not weakness. Crying is the body's way to reduce and process emotional stress. We need to be strong enough to cry.
Leaders, need to slow down, be flexible, and give employees leeway to deal with these new challenges. In particular as we try to return to work, I would ask employers to ensure your new processes and procedures shows trust. Do not shape the barrel with the bad apple in mind… and our Triple Bottom Line stool will be stable.