The triple bottom line … a new age kind of thinking, but becoming less radical all the time … at least I hope so.
I’m proud of the fact that this approach has always been at the foundation of the Antlers culture. Even before it was part of our lexicon, it influenced our actions. Our accomplishments over the years in the area of environmental sensitivity, combined with our position near the top of Vail’s good corporate citizens, speak to this. Granted, the Antlers has the luxury of being a completely independent entity. No corporate bureaucracy to worry about. Even our “shareholder” demands, rest entirely among those condominium owners who have priorities far beyond the simple ROI. Knowing that Vail is their second home, and recognizing the role we play in making that home, that entire community, a better place … that’s why we are who we are. Sure, profit is hugely important. But in our case it doesn’t necessarily outweigh the other two legs of that stool. It’s a business model of sustainability, and not just in the environmental context … in every way.
I was asked to give a talk about this recently to students at the Vail Mountain School. The occasion was the Global Solutions Forum of the Students Shoulder To Shoulder enterprise (now that’s a mouthful). In short, SSTS is one more organization that we are enormously proud to be associated with. One whose mission includes “Creating and supporting good global citizens”. Really now, what higher purpose is there? In that context, I tried to speak about the similarity of good citizenship and good corporate citizenship. In short, behaving in a manner that is meant to benefit those around you, and not just yourself. … sometimes even at your expense. The students intuitively understood the environmental part of that picture … recognizing that we’re on this earth together, and it’s the only one we’ve got. They even approved of mandating such behavior if necessary. Laws against polluting our streams and rivers being one example of such justified mandate.
Less instinctive was the “People” part of the equation. They didn’t all immediately recognize an obligation for business to help those in need (and even those not in need). Whether that’s done through the direct support of charities, corporate sponsorship of worthy causes or just a culture that encourages such behavior among others … the students seemed to view this as much more optional. I tried to impress on them the inherent value (and joy) of working for an organization that has that soul. I also tried to make the point that working with and for others who held those same beliefs was both more pleasant and ultimately more profitable.
I don’t know if I got through, but I hope so.