Triple bottom line:
The idea that the overall performance of a company should be measured based on its combined contribution to economic prosperity, environmental quality and social capital.
(Source: European Commission, 2001)
The triple bottom line (TBL) focuses corporations not just on the economic value they add, but also on the environmental and social value they add - and destroy. At its narrowest, the term 'triple bottom line' is used as a framework for measuring and reporting corporate performance against economic, social and environmental parameters. At its broadest, the term is used to capture the whole set of values, issues and processes that companies must address in order to minimize any harm resulting from their activities and to create economic, social and environmental value. This involves being clear about the company's purpose and taking into consideration the needs of all the company's stakeholders - shareholders, customers, employees, business partners, governments, local communities and the public.
The triple-bottom line is a term coined by John Elkington and made popular through his book 'Cannibals with Forks' (1997), which refers to the three prongs of social, environmental, and financial accountability. It is a term that is finding increasing and widespread international acceptance within the corporate community and one that is informing and transforming corporate reporting practices.