SustainAccounting Launches World’s First Triple Bottom Line Certification Program

SustainAccounting LLC has announced the launch of its Certified Triple Bottom Line (TBL) program for organizations, Certified TBL Orgs, the world’s first certification program for integrated TBL measurement and reporting. 

SustainAccounting’s Certified TBL program differs from all other CSR- / sustainability-related certifications in the following ways:

  • While comparable to B Corps in terms of its applicability to organizations, the similarity ends there because the Certified TBL program focuses only on performance accounting functions and nothing else.
  • The standards it relies on to certify TBL accounting in organizations include the requirement that they (1) be context-based as defined by the Global Reporting Initiative in its Sustainability Context principle, and (2) be consistent with best practices in Context-Based Sustainability.
  • Because of its narrow focus on Triple Bottom Line measurement and reporting, the Certified TBL program is not at all concerned with outcomes in performance.  Rather, it is a practice-level-only certification that does not concern itself with Triple Bottom Line results per se.

At the heart of the Certified TBL program is its advocacy of multicapital- and context-based Triple Bottom Line accounting, still new to most organizations but rapidly emerging as the gold standard for measurement and reporting.  Indeed, the very purpose of the program is to encourage and reward the adoption of context-based accounting, on the theory that management information itself must be brought up to speed before anyone can expect organizations to function sustainably.

At the heart of the Certified TBL program, then, is its advocacy of the MultiCapital Scorecard method, an open-source, context-based performance accounting tool developed by Martin P. Thomas in the UK, formerly of Unilever, and Mark W. McElroy in the U.S., formerly of Price Waterhouse, KPMG and Deloitte Consulting.  Other functionally equivalent methods can be used to qualify under the program as well.

McElroy, who also founded the Center for Sustainable Organizations in 2004 and who currently leads the Certified TBL program at SustainAccounting, had this to say about today‘s announcement: “The Certified TBL program is the world’s first and only certification credential that explicitly targets the management accounting function in organizations, and in particular the degree to which it measures, manages and reports Triple Bottom Line performance.  And none too soon, mind you –  indeed, how can anyone expect managers operating in today’s new economy to be effective using accounting tools forged in the old one?  The Certified TBL program solves this problem by providing managers with exactly the kind of expanded, Triple Bottom Line performance accounting system they need to be successful in today’s world!”

Importantly, the MultiCapital Scorecard method featured in the Certified TBL program has been endorsed by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) as precisely the kind of performance accounting tool that “all companies” should be using; just as B Lab, creators of the Certified B Corps program, has also endorsed it for reporting in Benefit Corporations.  As McElroy points out, “These two programs – B Corps and TBL Orgs – are in no way competitive and indeed are quite complementary.  Every Certified B Corp can aspire to become a Certified TBL Org as well, since there can be no better way of fulfilling the measurement and reporting needs of purpose-driven organizations than to use context-based accounting.  As an accounting solution for not just profit-oriented companies, but for B Corps, non-profits and other socially committed organizations, too, TBL accounting is uniquely fit for purpose!”

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