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The three bottom lines

Finance directors should adopt a triple bottom line approach to running their
business by concentrating on environmental and social results as well as
financial, according to Gaynor Coley, managing director and former FD of the

Speaking at this year’s
Director Summit
, Coley described the triple bottom line process as something
that her organisation has adopted to good effect: before making a decision the
board should consider its financial, social and environmental implications.

She said that just one example of the success of the procedure was when the
Eden Project replaced plastic cups in the cafeteria with mugs. Not only is it a
more environmentally friendly approach, but it also saves Eden a six-figure sum
every year – and sells more tea.

Coley shared the stage at the Summit with
for the Future
head of metrics David Aeron-Thomas, who gave a brief talk
about what UK companies are doing to improve their environmental credentials.

He pointed to Marks & Spencer, Tesco and GE as companies that have shown
innovation in this area. And because these issues are becoming an integral part
of future value creation, FDs have a hugely important role to play.

Coley agreed: far from being a “tree-hugging” issue, being more efficient and
environmentally savvy can create value for your business. Being green, she said,
can ultimately become a “by-product” of a company’s objectives.

One of the highlights of the session included what companies can do to become
more climate-conscious. It included:
• Capital and project appraisal – are you factoring in the real cost of doing
• Operations – are you thinking creatively about customers, future human
capital, business impact and risk?
• Skills and talent – are you using your skills and talent to help develop the
business models that will deal with the post ‘Stern world’?
• Opportunities – are you encouraging opportunities or is the finance depart
ment seen as a blocker?

She went on to add that being green and environmentally conscious should be
seen as an opportunity for innovation by companies and a chance to develop new

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