A Quadruple Bottom Line for Business

By Paul R. Scheele Ph.D. | Articles

The freedom to create a business and participate in a free-market global economy has been hard won over time and grants us, as businesspeople, both privilege and responsibility. We have the privilege to pursue our dreams and the responsibility to contribute in whatever way we can to help future generations do the same.

The word privilege is derived from Latin, meaning “private law” and is associated with the word autonomy, meaning “self-law” from the Greek roots auto and nomos. When we honor the privilege of being in business and operate each day as autonomous individuals, we are free to create our desired future.

Taking responsibility for our actions each day, we can prioritize our activities to attain our goals. As we enjoy the success of our accomplishments, we owe our future selves and future generations a portion of our gains. Gains might include the knowledge and skills that we can share with others. Gains are also financial, which we can invest in ways to create a bright future for societies worldwide.

When we use our privilege and take responsibility, our activities today can create a quadruple bottom line profit—measured as gains in:

  1. social justice
  2. environmental sustainability
  3. economical sustainability
  4. spiritual fulfillment

We have free will and freedom to create our desired future. This month is the ideal time to institutionalize our strategic initiatives and rally around the mission of creating a future we truly desire.

Action: As you plan your strategies for attaining your goals this year, also establish metrics that include taking responsibility for a brighter future for society. Take some reflective time this month to create ways of measuring your contributions to the world. (For example, choose to donate a percentage of your pre-tax profits to an organization supporting environmental sustainability. Or, give your employees training in mindfulness meditation.)

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