How focusing on the triple bottom line gives businesses power to impact communities positively

Sustainability has evolved into a business buzzword that many organizations toss out when talking with vendors, clients and prospects. Of course, your business is going green. We can’t afford to ignore these questions about reducing waste while examining what sustainability truly means and how we do green at our companies.

Sustainability goes far deeper than starting a recycling program or implementing an out-of-box operational system. Sustainability is not a simple plug-and-play strategy. It’s a holistic business perspective that takes into account people, planet and profit.

True sustainability is minding the triple bottom line (TBL), a framework that involves three areas of performance: social, environmental and financial. The idea is that these values act as pillars for your mission, drive your business activity and become ingrained in the culture so sustainability becomes second nature. It’s just the way you do business.

As business leaders, we have an obligation and responsibility to create positive change in our communities, and doing so requires a business model that does more than talk green. Sustainability is a journey — it’s a long-term commitment that takes dedication, vision and investment.

Where are you on this journey? As you evaluate your business practices and consider what sustainability means to your organization, consider these action items.

Invest in change.

Sustainability is not one facet of your business — it doesn’t live in a silo. Focusing on TBL will require change and an investment in trying new ways of conducting business.

For example, at Schill Grounds Management, we have been gradually replacing our mower fleet with propane-powered equipment that cuts carbon emissions by 50 to 70 percent.

Investment also comes in the form of recruiting talented employees whose values align with ours. Over time, we have examined every area of the business and considered how we could improve the team, technology, equipment and processes.

Shift the mindset

You can implement new technology that helps your business run faster and smarter, but that alone isn’t practicing sustainability. The systems you put in place will only be as effective as the people working behind them.

A TBL approach begins with leaders setting the tone, managers and supervisors at the ground level setting the example, and employees contributing by bringing their time, talent and ideas to the table.

A true TBL culture is collaborative and makes room for people at all levels to make a positive impact.

Just get started

Overcome the fear of trying something new. There is no perfect sustainable solution. Achieving sustainability requires testing new practices and sometimes failing. With the desire and passion to move forward, you can make a difference in the community.

We all want to work with people we respect, and the TBL is essentially a framework for respecting our people and communities, while keeping an eye on financial performance. When we do good, success follows. What will you do this season to set the example?

Jerry Schill
President and CEO
Schill Grounds Management

Schill Grounds Management provides landscape management and snow and ice removal services to commercial properties across Northeast Ohio, with offices in North Ridgeville, Sandusky, Strongsville and Twinsburg.