In the ever-changing climate of today, every business strives for better longevity and sustainability. The operation in an open environment created by globalization signifies the constant emergence of competition and other shifting factors that organizations have to take into account. To best adapt to the future, outlive the competitors and earn better profits, it is becoming increasingly necessary for companies to see their full scope of responsibility. The unregulated capitalism structure has led to many organizations finding their sole goal in satisfying shareholders and amassing profit (Ntim, 2018). However, both research and business theory note, that, more action is needed to help businesses survive and thrive. In particular, the Triple Bottom Line theory presents organizations with the addition of social and ecological dimensions to their decision-making process (Slaper & Hall, 2011). Only by incorporating care after all three of the measures for success can a business pursuit sustainable growth.
The latter of the two new measures, interestingly, begins to come to light even more prominently in recent years. As many experts grow to believe, humanity is currently standing on the edge of a climate disaster, threatening to put into question the continued survival of the human race. Therefore, any organization with a large influence is expected to do its part in preventing the consequences of climate change, nullifying its own negative environmental trail, and promoting the right message into the public sphere. This paper will discuss the topic of environmental sustainability for businesses, as well as present arguments towards opinions expressed in the introduction. The main goal of the work is to spread information and contribute to the creation of a better and more thorough-reaching body of knowledge about the triple bottom line.
The present body of evidence concerning the use of the triple bottom line is convincing, working to promote a specific view of businesses and their operation. The approach proposes that businesses must strive towards considering more than only their profits during operation, but also make a positive social and environmental impact on the world (Slaper & Hall, 2011). This effort comes with a number of metrics that can be used for discussing corporate responsibility and organization, and a suitable framework for analyzing an organization through the triple bottom lens.
In a discussion concerning the use of a triple bottom approach, it is also necessary to discuss other possible ways of managing a business. The method largely used in the 20th and 21st centuries can be classified as shareholder-focused, where a small group of invested individuals is the main focus of a business’ attention and action. The paper concerning corporate governance outlines a difference between stakeholder and shareholder-based models. Authors describe that the latter model places shareholders and their interests at the top, organizing the firm to run in accordance with their wishes and interests (Ntim, 2018). In such a system, shareholders hold the largest decision-making and executive power of the organization, becoming the de-facto leaders of a business. The system is criticized for its tendency towards the misuse of resources, lack of proper control, and an inability to maintain the social or ethical responsibilities of a company (Ntim, 2018). In contrast, a stakeholder-based system proposes that a business must be run with the intention of satisfying a larger group of stakeholders, including normal workers, customers, and society as a whole, on some occasions (Ntim, 2018). This approach is discussed as more capable of insinuating sustainable development and consideration for entities outside of the corporate realm.
The present paper will be focusing on the environmental responsibility part of the triple bottom line framework, which is why a variety of sources discussing both business and the climate have been examined. The body of work regarding the interaction of the two is large, including many perspectives and viewpoints. Firstly, some authors point out that businesses and the fossil fuel industry in particular are largely responsible for the condition of the climate, which is an important factor for the discussion (Baldwin & Lenton, 2020). Other works discuss corporate culture and climate response as a way for organizations to act in a more environmentally-conscious manner. Writers place the protection and preservation of environmental resources as a primary goal of any institution, including businesses. It is shown that the creation of a climate-focused organizational culture, one that emphasizes the need for conservation, consideration and care can be effective in creating the right kinds of mindsets in workers. Furthermore, the author poses, a company should examine its production chain in an effort to reduce the harm done to the environment (Eliseeva, 2019). As said in the paper, the complexity of potential harm done to the planet with the actions of a business is severe, making it necessary to consider each individual part of the value delivery process as subject to change (Eliseeva, 2019). By altering the existing methods of transportation, packaging, production, and distribution, it becomes feasible to drastically reduce the number of carbon emissions a business produces. Ecological wariness is stated to be the new way of thinking about business (Eliseeva, 2019). The considerations outlined in the literature overwhelmingly support the need for a new way towards classifying corporate responsibility. The lack of care towards society and the planet puts businesses at odds with the rest of the world, making them less likely to succeed on the market and unable to continue their development in the future. The adoption of widespread environmentally and socially-focused systems is a necessity to work within the modern business sphere.
The Current State of the Climate
As mentioned in the previous section, the climate all around the world is widely understood to be in a crisis nowadays. There are a number of significant problems that can be identified, including changes in average temperatures, melting ice sheets and glaciers, the extinction of rare animals, and others. However, most of these problems can be traced back to the core issue – exorbitant levels of CO2 in the atmosphere. Carbon emissions, created through man-made mechanisms and the results of industrialism, slowly accumulate in the atmosphere and change their composition. With the heightened concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere, greenhouse gas becomes trapped in the planet’s atmosphere and overall temperature. The climate becomes more destabilized with each year, leading to abnormal weather conditions, natural disasters, and a large variety of other problems. Winters become harsher, with modern infrastructure not being built to support the change, and summers lead to country-wide forest fires all too often. Scientists, many of whom have been discussing the severity of the problem for decades, witness trends that show the situation will most likely become even worse, given that no comprehensive change is introduced. Many countries around the world are realizing the weight of the issue, attempting to enact policies geared towards remedying the environment. The recognition of climate-related movements and non-profit organizations has also increased considerably, with the public consciousness seeing many more of them in the recent decade.
How Businesses Interact With the Climate
The relationship between businesses and the planet is complex. This fact primarily stems from perpetual capitalistic expansion being antithetical to sustainability. Large corporate entities are also currently responsible for the deteriorating state of the planet (Baldwin & Lenton, 2020). There are possibilities for both a mutually beneficial and a parasitic interaction between the two, depending on the focus of a company and its approaches. During the age of industrialization, the accumulation of profit became the main stated goal of corporations, with shareholders and owners being seen as the sole benefactors and reasons for a company’s growth (Ntim, 2018). From this viewpoint, businesses had to obligation to act with goodwill towards their regular employees, the society as a whole, or the planet itself (Ntim, 2018). The consideration of business as being solely interested in, and driven by, profit gave rise to the unregulated capitalism of today. Many organizations fully disregarded the potential implications of their work in pursuit of value. Such a worldview, however, has proven to be at its core destructive and unsustainable. The pursuit of the highest value sacrifices stability and long-term investment for quick gratification. The satisfaction of shareholders and the ever-rising standards serve as a perpetual drive towards destructive expansion, and a disregard for other methods of development. In this model for growth, there is no space to consider the environmental effects of an organization or include discussions of sustainable renewable growth. With the focus on the short-term value, the ability to discuss the environment in a corporate sphere is largely lost.
Alternatively, other viewpoints towards business organization have emerged in place of the profit-driven model. The triple bottom line approach dictates that businesses have a moral, financial and social responsibility to support the climate, to ensure both a benefit to themselves and the world around them. By effectively using the resources at their disposal, organizations have the capacity towards promoting sustainable systems of growth, ones that work to limit resource exploitation. Many organizations are shifting towards a more environmentally-friendly mentality, decreasing or fully neutralizing their carbon emissions and the use of non-renewable materials.
Considering the Environment in a Corporate Sphere
It is possible to consider how companies should include environmental considerations into their operational model. The specific approach differs depending on the organization, however, a number of steps remain the same for any institution willing to adopt a more nuanced stance towards supporting the planet. Changes must come from the management and leadership positions, influencing workplace policy and culture. A change in the attitudes of the leading figures further determines the focus of a company and the attitudes of its workers. First, the leader must establish a climate-friendly culture in their company. The internal operations of an organization should be geared towards promoting care, awareness, and support of climate, with the topic being central to the company’s value system. Climate is a consideration for every person, meaning that each employee is an individual stakeholder in the process of increasing sustainable development. Leaders must see their workforce as a unified effort working towards the same goal, with each member having their goals and interests in the process. Furthermore, the organization must understand all of the ways in which its actions lead to climate change. Material usage, logistics, and transportation, production and labor standards, outsourcing – all of these things are necessary considerations to take towards promoting sustainable growth. Each individual part of the process takes its own approach to optimize, making company-wide discussion and engagement of stakeholders a necessity. Consulting the workers of an organization and using their unique perspective, helps a firm to adjust any part of the production chain according to its wishes. By optimizing which materials are used, where their products are made, and how they are delivered, it is possible for the company to almost completely nullify its threat to the environment.
In conclusion, it can be said that discussions of climate in relation to business organization are both especially interesting and difficult. With the inherent contrast between using resources and trying to conserve them, many organizations exist at odds with the climate. Due to the increasingly dire state of the planet, however, it is necessary to reduce tensions and make more organizations climate-conscious. Without such change, it is impossible for a company to ensure its own longevity and success in the global market. The environment affects conditions under which people live, and no organizations are able to escape this fact. Promoting climate action, then, is the primary and most important step towards growing a business.
There are a variety of ways to promote environmentalism in a workplace context. The central premise is to establish a positive corporate value system, one that fosters a healthy and sustainable culture. Employees should be treated as stakeholders in the process of protecting the environment and utilized with consideration towards their unique skills. In addition, all steps of the value creation model should be examined critically, with the aim of finding flaws and replacing the older systems with more long-lasting ones. Overall, the process of transforming a company becomes all-encompassing, composed of a variety of steps that vary depending on the situation. The effort and funding put forward towards this goal works for the dual purpose of maintaining the triple bottom line framework and best enhancing the sustainability of an organization.
Baldwin, M. P., & Lenton, T. M. (2020). Solving the climate crisis: Lessons from ozone depletion and covid-19. Global Sustainability, 3. Web.
Eliseeva, E. (2019). Environmental responsibility of business as an element of corporate culture in the field of environmental protection. SGEM International Multidisciplinary Scientific GeoConference EXPO Proceedings. Web.
Ntim, C. G. (2018). Defining Corporate Governance: Shareholder Versus Stakeholder Models. Global Encyclopedia of Public Administration, Public Policy and Governance. Web.
Slaper, T. F., & Hall, T. J. (2011). The Triple Bottom Line: What Is It and How Does It Work? Indiana Business Review. Web.