Whether you use the words triple bottom line, or people, planet and profit, I really think there is something missing from how we evaluate our sustainability impacts. What about our impact on our customers? It is my opinion that the customer or “patrons” is missing from the triple bottom line.
When the internal sustainability team at Heritage Environmental Services started defining our sustainability reporting boundaries and assuring materiality and inclusiveness for our business, we were certain that a major pillar of the program was missing. Sure, the programs through the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) take a more in-depth look into providing a quality product or service, but the Global Reporting Initiative’s (GRI) product responsibility section just doesn’t cover developing sustainable long-term relationships with the customer base.
In defining our sustainability goals, we determined that highly strategic endeavors such as transparency through sustainability reporting and ethical business practices fall into the “patron” line (along with development of new waste reuse and recycling options for our customers). Our profit line is more focused on our goals of increasing return on assets and decreasing internal consumption of significant resources (including energy).
As more and more companies move toward completing Scope 3 of their carbon footprint analysis, work is underway to get involved with your supply chain’s sustainability efforts (e.g. Carbon Disclosure Project’s Supply Chain Program). Aren’t we the supply chain for our patrons? Don’t we need to be cognizant of meeting their sustainability needs? How can we sustain our business if we don’t sustain our customer interactions and relationships? What do you think?
Should we add a fourth P?