Triple Bottom Line

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A CCL Research White Paper

Leadership and the Triple Bottom Line
Bringing Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility to Life By: Laura Quinn Jessica Baltes

C E N T E R F O R C R E AT I V E L E A D E R S H I P

Leadership and the Triple Bottom Line

CONTENTS

Executive summary Highlights Background TBL awareness and importance TBL leadership skills and actions TBL outcomes and advantages Organizational strategy and the TBL Organizational culture and systems supporting or hindering TBL TBL behaviors: At home and at work Tips and resources Bios References

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Center for Creative Leadership, CCL®, and its logo are registered trademarks owned by the Center for Creative Leadership. © 2007 Center for Creative Leadership. All rights reserved.

Leadership and the Triple Bottom Line
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The Ideas2Action (I2A) project is a Center for Creative Leadership (CCL®) initiative bringing “ideas into action” by providing relevant and timely research via technology to our open-enrollment programs. In an attempt to understand organizational sustainability, the 12A team collected data from September through December 2006, gauging leader awareness and organizational implementation of the Triple Bottom Line (TBL) concept. Two major research methods were used: A short, in-class survey via computer kiosks and an in-depth Internet survey sent to participants 2 weeks following their CCL experience. The Internet survey allowed the 12A team to better understand the high-level trends that emerged from the in-class survey. We received 197 responses to the in-class survey and 50 responses to the Internet survey. The typical respondent was a male (83 percent) between the ages of 41 and 50 (45 percent) representing the executive level (49 percent).

HIGHLIGHTS Leaders believe that taking care of profits, people, and the planet are critical to organizational success, both now and in the future. Of the leaders we surveyed, 73 percent report the triple bottom line is currently important to organizational success, and 87 percent agree that the concept will be important to organizational success in the future. A leader with long-term vision and the ability to communicate can influence others to adopt his/her vision. According to leaders, the three most critical individual leadership competencies necessary for adopting triple bottom line approaches include long-term view, communication, and influence. Leaders believe their organizations can benefit from triple bottom line efforts. As identified by our surveyed leaders, the top advantages to adopting a triple bottom line approach are increased revenue and market share, increased employee retention, and increased community support. Taking on a TBL perspective requires a focused commitment to long-term strategic thinking, planning, and action. When asked whether their organizations incorporate triple bottom line activities into their strategies and opera-

tions, 11 out of 36 leaders answered ‘yes.’ Of the organizations that incorporate triple bottom line activities into their strategies and operations, more than 70 percent came from the business sector. Implementing change means facing new obstacles and challenges. An organization’s culture and systems must support this change. Findings indicate the three most critical organizational supports necessary for adopting triple bottom line approaches are integration of TBL into long-term strategies, goals, and measures; employee training on TBL concepts, measures, and challenges; and leaders within the organization modeling TBL behaviors, both professionally and personally. Leaders and their organizations engage in sustainability efforts that focus on their communities, recycling, and conservation programs. Individual leaders regularly donate to charitable organizations, recycle, and volunteer, while organizations regularly recycle, invest in their communities, and conserve energy.

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