A number of years ago through a “green your MBA” sustainability program offered by Dominican University of California, I was introduced to the concept of the triple bottom line (TBL).
The triple bottom line is an accounting construct that takes into account three parts: social, environmental and financial performance of a business. The notion being that a triple bottom line will drive greater and more sustainable business value, while simultaneously improving social equity and sustaining the environment.
The TBL evaluates performance in terms of people, planet and profit. Whether a business manages to a TBL or is simply looking for ways to be more fair, greener and to improve profits, technology can positively impact these three areas.
The broad availability of the internet and related access to information has been transformative. Near immediate access to what is happening around the globe has created a magnifying glass through which we view social equity in our culture. Social media connects us to broad networks of people and resources, communicating information and opinions 24/7.
In the workplace, providing equal access to opportunities, transparency and fair treatment are all impacted by the technology used by the company.
Such technology might include:
• Use of online recruiting sites to provide widespread advertising of employment opportunities allows companies to benefit from larger applicant pools and provides individuals with greater access to jobs. These sites assist employers with matching job description requirements with candidate skill and work history without regard to an individual’s race, sex, sexual orientation or age. Transparency is improved as jobseekers can evaluate multiple companies’ job descriptions for comparable positions.
• Human resources technology platforms provide comparative tools that can be used by the organization to measure, compare and assure equitable pay within roles. These systems track and manage information useful to the employee and employer pertaining to performance and advancement. These platforms also often provide access to benefits information and options.
• HR solutions integrated with payroll and financial accounting provide tools to measure performance; easily evaluate salary structures across positions and geography; provide employees with better information pertaining to benefits, and track and reward volunteerism.
• Online learning tools can be offered by the company to provide equal opportunity for employees to grow skill sets needed for advancement.
• Use of LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter provide open forums for discussion of business issues, elevating them to levels of visibility sufficient to impact public policy and to effect change.
Businesses impact the environment in complex and myriad ways — resource use and reuse, externalization of costs of production, use of fossil fuels to produce and distribute goods, consumption of limited resources that may or may not be renewable, and by-products of conducting business that have a potential to pollute or destroy ecosystems. There are many exciting advancements, such as the use of robotics and artificial intelligence that continue to propel manufacturing innovations.
Often these require significant retooling and process improvement work, prior to realizing the considerable business value.
There are, however, many commonly available business technologies that can be used to better measure and manage the environmental impact of activities and to comply with regulatory agencies.
Data aggregation platforms and business intelligence tools allow us to capture information from many sources and then display it in visual dashboards to make it easily accessible for decision-making.
Soni Lampert is principal and CEO of KLH Consulting Inc. Vintegrate Winery Software in Santa Rosa.
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