Sustainability has become the newest buzz word in business, but what is a sustainable business? A truly sustainable business considers its triple bottom line or impact on economic, social and environmental resources. What is the value of making your business sustainable? The overall goal is to reduce the negative impact and improve the positive impact to all three areas.
As a member of the Pikes Peak Sustainable Business Network (PPSBN), BiggsKofford recently formed a green team within our office. The green team met with the PPSBN’s assistant director, Jackie Rockwell to assess our triple bottom line. Being CPAs and entrepreneurs, we were fully aware of our financial status and what we previously believed to be the double bottom line that mattered most.
Our social impact was fairly strong as well. BiggsKofford has always been involved in the community and we are extremely involved in the non-profit arena. Employees are able use work time to volunteer, sit on numerous non-profit boards, and both the company and employees contribute monetarily within the community. Not to mention the heavily discounted services we offer to non-profits.
However, the environmental line of our triple bottom line had not been as seriously addressed. Although our audit department was already paperless, surely there was more that could be done to lessen our environmental impact. During this process we found was that making changes to reduce our negative impact did not require not mind bending concepts or even invasive changes. There were a number of small changes that were easily made without much cost or inconvenience to clients and employees. Some of those small improvements include serving clients water from a filtered water system as opposed to buying bottled water, stocking the break room with dishes and utensils purchased from Goodwill as opposed to buying disposable, turning off computer screens at the end of the day, and of course recycling aluminum, paper, plastic and cardboard.
Larger initiatives do require some employee time to implement and adjustments to policies and procedures, but overall the changes made have actually improved efficiency and either didn’t incur additional cost or actually saved money. We started by evaluating our larger cost areas, paper and printing transitioning many internal processes paperless. We continue to working toward more paperless processes such as paperless billing, increasing the number of tax returns filed electronic ally, and electronic delivery of tax returns where applicable and accepted by clients.
One of the unexpected side effects of these changes is the strong buy in from employees and their enthusiasm to participate and share ideas. Taking steps toward sustainability are beneficial for all involved. A sustainable business can create value for clients, employees, owners and the community using the triple bottom line concept.