Generations of business have been driven by one bottom line: profit. Cash at any cost, be it man or nature. Based in Bahrain, 3BL, or Triple Bottom Line, Associates has deemed this to be an unsustainable business model. 3BL advises for many to consider another business model that takes into account three bottom lines: people, place and profit.
3BL Associates refer to itself as “Bahrain’s first social impact and sustainability consultancy and think-do-tank.” It works with innovative companies that seek to grow harmoniously with the people within the MENA region. The idea of a triple bottom line was coined by academic John Elkington, who proposed “that business goals are inextricably linked to the societies and environment in which they operate, and that business practices utilized to achieve short-term economic gain but fail to consider social and environmental impacts are ultimately unsustainable.”
Established in 2010, 3BL now teaches these business principles to businesses large and small looking to “do well, do good.” They offer services such as sustainability audit and needs analysis, benchmarking and research as well as smart partnering. 3BL advocates for Corporate Social Responsibility.
Maintaining good CSR is growing a company while keeping in mind the social equity: Is it good for the people of the area or are you abusing the locals? Good CSR takes into account environmental sustainability: Does this company deplete the natural resources of the area or does it replenish them after use? This capitalization of sustainability is “an opportunity to generate social, environmental and economic prosperity, in tandem.”
3BL Associates took its business agenda to the next level when it published its own findings on Bahrain sustainability in a report entitled Bahrain Responsible Business Survey. In the survey the respondents were asked a variety of questions, in efforts to determine their perceptions of healthy CSR and what the role the government should be in keeping companies accountable.
It was found that 87 percent of respondents understood CSR to be “community engagement.” It was found that CSR tactics such as community engagement, employee wellness, transparency, corporate governance, health, gender equality and diversity were practiced already, but only in about one-third of the respondent’s organizations. The study also found that only 55 percent of respondents cared whether their organizations were working environmentally responsibly. Only 26 percent of the organizations in Bahrain currently meet these standards.
3BL Associates co-founder and managing director Leena Al Olaimy said, “CSR and sustainability have far more value than just “doing good,” and have the potential to simultaneously contribute to national socio-economic development, and to raise Bahrain’s rankings on a number of indices such as the Global Competitiveness Index.”
The report, compiled by Al Olaimy and her associates, also revealed popular sentiments when it found that 80 percent thought the government should regulate CSR practices. In addition, 95 percent felt there should be government incentives for those organizations implementing CSR, while 83 percent felt there should be some kind of government subsidy for the programs.
3BL Associates has only been in business for four years, but has already gained the trust of its people. Khamis Al Muqla, honorary chairman of 3BL Associates, further noted, “The intersection of social and environmental issues in business has become an international topic of concern for corporations and countries alike.”
– Frederick Wood II