Issue 035 / RAICES, Refurbished & Why It’s Time To Rethink The Concept Of “Triple Bottom Line”

Reconsidered is a bi-weekly newsletter curating thought-provoking content on corporate social responsibility, sustainability and social impact. Click here to subscribe. 

This Week's Five Links

25 Years Ago I Coined the Phrase “Triple Bottom Line.” Here’s Why It’s Time to Rethink It — Harvard Business Review
John Elkington is issuing a recall on the concept of the triple bottom line — a sustainability framework he developed that examines a company’s social, environment, and economic impact. He argues that it has become diluted and is most often used to enable a “trade-off” mindset. The term could be saved, he says, but only if companies embrace radical systems change instead of incremental efforts.

Why Even Viral-Fundraising Skeptics Can Feel Good About Donating to RAICES — Slate
“Rage-giving” is all the rage since Trump took office. But the record-breaking Facebook fundraiser for RAICES — the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services in Texas — shattered all expectations. To date, it’s earned over $20M. But is it effective philanthropy? Writing for Slate, Felix Salmon says yes, because the non-profit’s solution is scalable.

👉 TAKE ACTION: Donate to RAICES to help keep families together.

Financial World’s A-List Could Take Hollywood’s Cue on Inclusion — The New York Times
At the Oscars, Frances McDormand introduced us to “inclusion riders” — a contract clause that ensures diverse hiring on set. The idea is now spreading to the financial world. But to work, says Andrew Ross Sorkin, it’ll need the “big pools of money” like pension funds and college endowments to demand diversity in their investment firms.

‘Refurbished’ Is the New Frontier for Outdoor Gear Retailers — TreeHugger
Secondhand is hot right now. Top brands like EILEEN FISHERPatagoniaREI and now The North Face have created mechanisms that allow customers to easily give a second life to old clothing. It’s a smart move for the environment, but it’s also good marketing. After all, only high-quality products can be used again and again and again.

The Magic Number of People Needed to Create Social Change — Fast Company
Only 25% of a group needs to adopt a new social norm before the whole group follows, says a recent study from the University of Pennsylvania. The lead author, Damon Centola, says: “When a community is close to a tipping point to cause large-scale social change, there’s no way they would know this. And if they’re just below a tipping point, their efforts will fail." But reach that magic number and things can change fast.

Whereas CEOs, CFOs, and other corporate leaders move heaven and earth to ensure that they hit their profit targets, the same is very rarely true of their people and planet targets. Clearly, the Triple Bottom Line has failed to bury the single bottom line paradigm.
— John Elkington in “25 Years Ago I Coined the Phrase 'Triple Bottom Line.' Here’s Why It’s Time to Rethink It” (Harvard Business Review)

Spotlight: Brands & The Border


Profiting from childhood trauma is not a good look, to put it mildly. But the tentacles of Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy have reached a lot of businesses, some unwittingly.

For instance, many airlines were quick to distance themselves from the policy after it was reported that separated children were being flown to different states. Employees at Microsoft and Amazon protested their companies’ work with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency. And CEOs came out with statements denouncing the policy, donating money and resources to the cause.

But other businesses are still complicit. Take the companies that house and transport migrants, some of which have made millions through government contracts. After these reports surfaced, at least one of those companies, MVM, said it will no longer pursue new contracts associated with undocumented families and children. It’s further proof that when citizens express outrage, businesses listen — and perhaps a nudge to express your opinions on the subject to the other companies highlighted in the report. 

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This newsletter is curated by Jessica Marati Radparvar, with support from content strategist Ysabel Yates and jobs board curator Danielle Vermeer. If you like it, please consider sharing it!