Economic Woes Reinforce Triple Bottom Line

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<p>While some may feel that economic arguments in favor of increasing energy efficiency and reducing production and transportation costs are somehow less &lsquo;worthy' reasons for America's sustainability efforts, the fact remains that the current economic downturn is reinforcing the triple bottom line model (people, planet, profit) as business leaders acknowledge the inter-dependence of all three elements.</p>
<p>Research from <a href="http://www.environmentalleader.com/2008/11/10/corporate-responsibility-b...)">BSR/Cone </a>confirms research by Shelton Group and <a href="(http://www.environmentalleader.com/2007/05/18/cost-savings-not-environme...) ">others</a> that companies are increasingly finding that they can improve their financial performance by taking environmentally responsible actions. And that realization - especially in light of the continued belief by some companies that environmental efforts <em>de facto</em> cost more - may be just the thing that sustains sustainability programs through the current economic downturn.</p>
<p><strong>What is driving CR today? (Source: BSR/Cone)<br /></strong>84 % Reputational benefits are increasingly important<br />80 % Stakeholder demands are increasing<br />76 % Increased pressure to show a return on investment<br />75 % Long-term cost savings or efficiencies are major drivers<br />59 % Corporate responsibility initiatives are driving more by company values and mission than by bottom-line impacts or other factors<br />57 % Corporate responsibility is increasingly seen as a driver of innovation<br />12 % Corporate responsibility initiatives are less of a priority today</p>
<p>Other drivers for business include the vast majority (94 percent) that anticipate increased government regulation of issues related to corporate responsibility, including climate change (86 percent) and corporate governance and financial transparency (83 percent).</p>
<p>For those who might find this unseemly - somehow less &lsquo;pure' than if companies were to be embracing CR for more &lsquo;altruistic' reasons - the <a href="/www.fastcompany.com/big-idea/biggest-impediment-going-green-nobody-knows... Group research </a>shows that not only are people struggling with the concept of &lsquo;green', they often have misconceptions about what really has a positive impact on the environment. While half (49 percent) of respondents said a company's environmental record is important in their purchasing decisions, the number drops by half (21 percent) when consumers were asked if this had actually driven them to choose one product over another. And only 7 percent could name the product they purchased.</p>
<p>So if, as Milton Friedman famously said, the business of business is business, and consumers are not yet using their purchasing power to help reward environmentally responsible companies, then companies that wish to do well must look for other ways to live their values - and reducing costs by saving the environment remains a preferable option.</p>
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