triple bottom line
n. A business principle that measures corporate performance along three lines: profits, environmental sustainability, and social responsibility.

Example Citations:
What kind of business school teaches that there is not one bottom line, but three?

The University of Bath, where students are being schooled in putting sustainable development at the centre of running a business. The triple bottom line is people, planet and profit—the idea being that environmental quality and social equity are just as important as black ink at the bottom of the ledger.
—Terry Slavin, “Ethical business,” The Observer, February 8, 1998

These projects, together with eliminating CFCs, developing the lead-free telephone and the chrome replacement, are examples of Nortel realizing what Virginia Snyder calls a “triple bottom line”— earning a profit, protecting the environment and improving social conditions. She is Nortel’s vice-president of corporate environmental services, and is based in Richardson, Texas.
—Cameron Smith, “Nortel has ‘triple bottom line’,” The Toronto Star, August 22, 1998

Earliest Citation:
The controversy, which has been more about public perception of the environmental priorities than about ecological impacts, marks the emergence of a new era which requires business to focus on a “triple bottom line”: economics, environment and social equity.
—John Elkington, “Sparring partners,” The Guardian (London), June 28, 1995

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