Book: The Triple Bottom Line

Author: Andrew Savitz, with Karl Weber

List Price: $24.95

The book’s actual title is “The Triple Bottom Line: How Today’s Best-Run Companies Are Achieving Economic, Social and Environmental Success — and How You Can Too.” But don’t let the run-on headline fool you. Concisely written, Andrew Savitz and his co-author, Karl Weber, argue that companies today need to focus on three bottom lines in order to achieve growth and sustainability. The three include: economic, environmental and social.

The author appears to have an activist bent, but he’s actually a “recovering environmental lawyer,” which only adds credibility to his message. He makes a lively and cogent case that no company or manager can afford to ignore the world around them. Companies operate in a goldfish bowl today, due to increased exposure through global business networks and supply chains, as well as campaigns mounted by lawyers, non-governmental organizations and shareholder activists.

But the book’s central argument is an upbeat one that it makes financial sense for companies to anticipate and respond to society’s emerging demands. On the flipside, companies that fail to respond, or ignore society, are likely to pay the price. For Savitz, sustainability is about conducting business in a way that benefits employees, customers, business partners, communities and shareholders at the same time.

The best-run companies find “sustainability sweet spots.” These are areas where shareholders’ long-term interests overlap with those of society. Every company can find one, he suggests, even if it’s minimal, such as cutting costs by reducing energy use or employee accidents.