By Shane Thornton – an excellent article, which I stumbled onto on eHow, and I really recommend it. It’s very thought-provoking. Everyone knows about Triple Line Reporting, but Quadruple Line?
As an organisation specifically set up to marry good business practice to philanthropic outcomes, this fascinates me, especially as it touches on the personal aspects of peope’s lives. I’d be very interested to hear from anyone who has implemented QBLR, and their experience of it, or anyone who is interested to explore it, but doesnt know where to start. Is this something The Different Company should be helping people to achieve?
Quadruple bottom line reporting uses the idea of triple bottom line reporting as its foundation; it makes businesses accountable and responsible for the economic, social, environmental and spiritual effects of doing business. Although triple bottom line reporting is much more popular, the newer idea of quadruple bottom line reporting and the addition of a spiritual aspect is quickly gaining support.
Both of these forms of accounting are popular for government agencies and nonprofit companies to show a commitment to social responsibilities; for many of these companies, true success is measured through social efforts, environmental impact and uncovering spiritual fulfillment rather than just focusing on financial performance.
John Elkington was the first to use the idea of triple bottom line reporting in 1994; the idea of quadruple bottom line reporting piggybacks off his 1998 book “Cannibals with Forks: Triple Bottom Line of 21st Century Business.” Since 1998, triple bottom line reporting has gained momentum and become a source of competitive advantages in all for-profit sectors and industries. The popularity of triple bottom line reporting has led many companies and people to believe that improvements can still be made with the addition of spirituality as the fourth aspect of reporting.
Quadruple bottom line reporting requires an organization to be responsible and accountable to all stakeholders of an organization, not just the shareholders. The stakeholders of an organization are anyone who is affected by the business activities of a company including shareholders, customers, employees and suppliers.
There can be many benefits of quadruple bottom line reporting. Any organization using this form of accounting can increase business by positively affecting its reputation and public perception.
The social aspect of quadruple bottom line reporting concentrates on the fair treatment of human capital by providing fair wages and a safe workplace. Being socially responsible also requires performing responsible and beneficial business activities and practices within the community.
A business using quadruple bottom line reporting must engage in sustainable environmental activities; the organization should focus on reducing environmental harm through proper recycling, reducing waste, avoiding production and use of harmful chemicals, and reducing energy consumption. The spiritual aspect of this form of reporting is concerned with discovering spiritual fulfillment for all the employees who dedicate their efforts and lives to the goals of the organization.
The spiritual aspect of quadruple bottom line reporting doesn’t indicate whose god is right and wrong or what practices are accepted or preferred.
Rather, it just looks to help employees gain fulfillment in every aspect of their lives. The fulfillment of the spiritual aspect includes any relationship with the transcendent, any religious practice such as prayer or meditation, any physical practice such as yoga or tai chi, or caring and loving relationships with the local and global community.