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The ROI of ‘Doing Well by Doing Good’

From the President

People. Planet. Profit. The triple bottom line (TBL) framework takes account of the full cost involved in doing business, encompassing costs and benefits on external stakeholders, employees, and the environment. As Detroit comes out of a decade that included the bankruptcy of iconic companies and the city itself, it has also seen the dramatic recovery and acceleration of our signature automotive industry and the remarkable renaissance of Detroit. Now is the right time for businesses in the region to focus on sustainable practices.   

Good companies know that the full measure of success goes beyond their individual profit and loss statement.  Of course, in order for any business to do good things – increase wages and employment, support community initiatives, invest in modern and more efficient infrastructure, and other things we expect – businesses must be profitable in the short- and long-term.  A business that is no longer in business is of no use to anyone.  

The triple bottom line is the ethos that businesses are community and global citizens.  To be a good corporate citizen means that business owners, employees, and the community at large all benefit from that business’ existence.   Fortunately, businesses are leading by example, and in many cases, stepping in where other public institutions have faltered to fill societal needs.  Considering that the Detroit region is home to more than 300,000 businesses and 10 Fortune 500 company headquarters, our regional businesses are making a sizable impact on our communities and planet.   

As the leading business and economic development organization in the region, the Chamber is fully committed to the triple bottom line and is proud to highlight the many leading companies that share our view.  We featured this conversation at the Chamber’s 2019 Mackinac Policy Conference where programming included a focus on sustainability and stewardship. Statewide CEOs discussed what leaders can do today to protect the planet and state for generations to come. They agreed on the following statements:  

Sustainability is not a project; it must be integrated into how companies operate. 

There is a circular economy opportunity: products and materials can be recycled to have another life.  

Some of the talent gap could be filled by opening doors for different parts of the state’s current population. 

Examples of businesses leading through example on the triple bottom line include: 

Bank of America: Deploying more than $126 billion in financing to low-carbon and sustainable business activities across the globe through its environmental business initiatives.  

Consumers Energy: Accelerating the move to clean energy with a 20-year plan to eliminate coal and reduce carbon emissions by more than 90%, and meet electricity capacity needs using more than 90% clean energy resources by 2040. 

DTE Energy: Leading efforts in adult workforce training by preparing inmates for careers in tree trimming — connecting returning citizens with jobs after prison while addressing the labor shortage. 

Ford Motor Company: Advancing efforts in the automotive sector on environmental stewardship by recycling 1.2 billion plastic bottles every year for vehicle parts.    

These are just a few examples. Companies big and small are doing things for their community and planet ranging from volunteering at homeless shelters and sponsoring little league teams to addressing the biggest social and environmental challenges of today. Our regional businesses are truly good community and global citizens. In this issue, you will learn even more about how Detroit Regional Chamber members are contributing to better communities and the planet.