The idea behind our new Let’s Talk podcast is simple, yet complicated; serious, yet upbeat; timely, yet old. Seriously, we wanted to do a podcast that took from our financial services backdrop but also reflected our scale-up, disruptive mindset with a B Corp crunch.
And that’s why we settled on Let’s Talk centring around the Triple Bottom Line of People, Planet and Profit. TBL or 3BL has been around for over 25 years with the phrase being coined by John Elkington. However, on its 25th anniversary at the end of 2019, Elkington ‘recalled’ it because he said people needed a rethink in how they were interpreting it. Too many had misused the framework as a reporting and accounting tool, he said, far from the original intention of it being a sustainability framework.
The Triple Bottom Line is about burying the single bottom line paradigm of profit and focussing more on transformation as a whole. Some companies have done it but most are a long way off. So in our new podcast, Let’s Talk, we want to fire up the debate again, put it back into the heart of conversations and ask our guests what their organisations are doing about it.
In our first episode, we talk to Paul Clulow-Philips who works for one of the largest investment banks on the planet, Société Générale.
On profit, Paul makes this observation “Risk management…needs to hold an equal standing within the organisation as the business and the profits it makes,” giving us the insight that more caution is probably needed. He also talks about the shift to individual accountability away from hiding behind the corporate curtain, so a pivot in mindset that likely drives much needed changes in behaviour.
On people, Paul agrees on the importance of diversity and how “we no longer have boards and businesses run solely by people like me, 50-something white blokes”. He also talks about there being a bit of diversification in terms of thought process, opinions around the table and willingness to challenge. So, an acknowledgement of a step in the right direction but far from fully baked.
On the planet, he agrees that ‘if you look at the way society is going, the world, the environment, et cetera, any organisation that doesn't place sufficient importance on those values [B Corp] will be an organisation that fundamentally fails in the future. I think the next generation of employees, that's what they want to see in an organisation. They want to work for organisations that hold those values dearly. I think those values are absolutely fundamental.’
All the above from a guy who has worked in compliance for over 25 years for SocGen and many well-known organisations including UBS, J.P. Morgan, BNP Paribas and Barclays. So he is well placed to see where things are shifting and where there is more to be done. He’s also quite a funny guy, might well have been on the right side of compliance for a quarter of decade, but he’s also got some interesting takes on social media and the merit of asking Elon Musk what his endgame is.
The Triple Bottom Line is more important today than at any other time and while it needs a reset, it needs a set of champions.
We invite you to join us for this season’s podcast where, as well as the Triple Bottom Line, we talk future-proofing business, artificial intelligence and tech and muse on big dilemmas such as pet hates, who we’d like to eavesdrop on and whether there are any positive analogies about banking.