Back to the triple bottom line

People Planet Profit stockAs a professor at UNC Kenan-Flagler, I’m often asked whether I believe sustainability is a trend. As someone who stays informed about current business issues, I know it’s not a trend with an end in sight – and as director of the Center for Sustainable Enterprise, I can proudly assert that for us, sustainability is a tradition, not a trend.

During the 2014-15 academic year, we will celebrate UNC Kenan-Flagler’s 15th anniversary of shaping business leaders who do well by doing good, thinking beyond the bottom line, and building and understanding the business case for incorporating social and environmental concerns into business strategy.

As in years past, I’ve started my MBA corporate environmental strategy course with a reading from Harvard Business School professor Forest Reinhardt, who asserts that “managers should look at environmental problems as business issues. They should make environmental investments for the same reasons they make other investments: Because they expect them to deliver positive returns or to reduce risk.”

More than ever, we see leading companies making such investments – such as Walmart partnering with suppliers to reduce waste, IKEA and Swiss RE pledging to switch to 100 percent renewable power by 2020, and entrepreneurs like Ginger Dosier of Biomason innovating to generate profits while addressing critical issues like climate change.

UNC Kenan-Flagler faculty – including Lisa Jones Christensen and I – will be publishing an occasional series on best practices of sustainable enterprises to help you gain insights into how investments in sustainability can deliver positive returns for your organization by reducing costs, mitigating risks and increasing market share.