Haweswater resrvoirOver the last few years we have been exploring opportunities to report our business performance in new, innovative ways.

‘Triple bottom line’ (TBL) accounting, which examines a company’s performance according to environmental and social criteria, as well as financial, has been gaining some ground.

As a socially and environmentally responsible company, we were keen to see if this form of reporting could work for us, and would be welcomed by our stakeholders.

Our hope was that a TBL approach would enable a more rounded understanding of our company’s annual performance and help stakeholders better understand the trade-offs and synergies between economic, social and environmental performance at a strategic level.

We commissioned leading environmental economist firm eftec and sustainability organisation Forum for the Future, to look at options.

They helped us develop a reporting methodology which was then tested with a range of stakeholders, including internal decision makers, non-governmental environmental organisations, academics, journalists and accounting professionals.

The feedback was mixed – ranging from an appreciation of this innovative approach to concern over the lack of any recognised benchmarking process to allow a point of comparison.

We concluded that while TBL is undoubtedly a promising concept, the current lack of recognised national or international standard means it is not currently in our interests, or those of our stakeholders, for us to pursue this approach at this time.

There are, however, emerging movements that are aiming to produce more widely supported frameworks and tools, and we are actively engaging with some of these, such as the Government’s Natural Capital Committee and Accounting for Sustainability.

By remaining involved in this area, and keeping up to speed with developments, we hope our initial foray into TBL is one that we may be able to revisit in the future.

If you would like to send us a comment about this report, please email our Head of Sustainability, Chris Matthews