A multiplying bottom line?

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The passing of a decade provokes an inevitable reflection on the state of all things. Looking at the corporate responsibility (CSR) space, it has now been over 15 years since John Elkington coined the term triple bottom line. CSR has continued to be mainstreamed.

Triple Bottom Line is now even in the accepted lexicon of the Economist. However, there is growing complexity. Governance issues and climate change rose rapidly on the priorities of business and society alike in the noughties. Do they merit separate consideration? Should we be talking of a quintuple bottom line? What of human rights?

Companies are likely to resist yet another set of standards, but cannot escape the impacts on their operations, be it of corruption or growing water shortages. Of course, this is before we even consider what issues will force themselves on to boardroom and development agendas in the decade ahead. IFC is inviting comments as part of the review of its performance standards, so it is a good time to get out your crystal balls and suggest where new coverage is needed today and down the line.


Michael Jarvis

Executive Director, Transparency and Accountability Initiative

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