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The triple bottom line

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The 'triple bottom line' is rapidly gaining recognition as a framework for measuring business performance.

The phrase was coined by John Elkington, co-founder of the business consultancy SustainAbility, in his 1998 book 'Cannibals with Forks: the Triple Bottom Line of 21st Century Business'.

In its broadest sense, the triple bottom line captures the spectrum of values that organizations must embrace - economic, environmental and social.

In practical terms, triple bottom line accounting means expanding the traditional company reporting framework to take into account not just financial outcomes but also environmental and social performance.

(See 'Corporate reporting' in the Current Issues section of the site.)

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