As part of our commitment to the concept of the Triple Bottom Line, TBLA Ltd is working on several projects in 2020. This week we would like to tell you about how we are developing the Triple Bottom Line Accounting Ltd Corporate Social Responsibility portfolio.
What we say about our company:
“A progressive accountancy practice, adopting a learning approach to help clients succeed in a rapidly evolving epoch in which doing the right thing comes before profit. Our aim is to empower our clients to achieve the best outcomes.”
“You look after the environment and the people around you and we’ll help you prosper. Triple Bottom Line: For people who are proud about how they make a living.”
The TBLA brand essence means that we have always had an “impact led strategy” we didn’t have a name for it!:
“An impact led strategy is where your business operates on not just ‘having’ a social mission, but actually ‘being’ your social mission.” 
What is CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility)?
Most businesses operate to maximise financial profits, then some donate, provide sponsorship or contribute a proportion of profits to good causes or charitable activities (in return for positive publicity in most cases).
TBLA Ltd does not actually seek to maximise profits. Still, it does try to be profitable enough to pay its employees well, including a range of staff benefits such medical insurance, training for professional qualifications and professional development, and so on.
Where might TBLA Ltd make an impact?
The Impact Measurement Project  states that most enterprises usually have an impact on five stakeholder groups. For our accountancy practice, these are:
- The local community
- Suppliers and distributors
- The planet
1. TBLA’s clients
These include businesses, sole traders, individuals and Not for Profit organisations. We aspire to have a positive impact on all our clients with our emphasis on being caring, professional and progressive. When our impact has been unintentionally negative, we admit our mistakes and celebrate the learning experience. TBLA Ltd also subsidises UEA student business start-ups and smaller Not for Profit organisations. As part of our ‘caring, professional and progressive’ ethos, we do not charge clients for extra advice, where we have the answer at hand, or the odd letter required on headed paper. Unlike some accountants, we do not charge by the minute!
2. Employees who work for TBLA Ltd
We work hard at developing respect and caring for each other, believing this is key to our wellbeing. Our employees work in a lovely office and in a friendly environment. It is a learning environment where we combine employment with study to further our professional qualifications and personal development. Busy periods can take their toll on all employees, this can have a negative impact. We try to redress this by providing all permanent employees with free medical insurance, flexitime, a 35-hour working week with as much fresh fruit and nuts as they can eat!
3. The local community
The local community can be directly or indirectly affected by our activities. Driving to the office in a diesel vehicle emitting nasty particulates will have a negative impact on local air quality. Encouraging clients to meet us on video chat rather than driving to see us might help to address this. Helping a new client to set up a CIC and raise funds that will go towards assisting local residents in need, will have a positive local impact.
4. Suppliers and distributors
Being a paperless, cloud-based accountancy practice, our suppliers include the manufacturers and retailers of laptops, mobile phones and other hardware and software needed in the office or to work at home. We will have an impact on any supplier, both local, national and global in our choices of procurement – both negative and positive. TBLA Ltd seeks to use local suppliers of services as much as possible and always considers our co-tenants starting out on their enterprises whenever possible. We loved using co- tenant Peekaboo Productions Ltd to produce our recent company video and photos.
5. The local and global ecosystem
The building in which we work was built using low carbon techniques and materials and is designed to reduce usual energy requirements significantly. However, being cloud-based and paperless does not make TBLA more virtuous than other accountancy practices. A cloud-based business relies on data centres containing thousands of servers, all of which must be powered 24/7 to ensure we have access to our data at all times. The energy used by each data centre is substantial. So, TBLA Ltd will need to look at the way its energy use has a broader negative impact on the biosphere. Fortunately, cloud providers are currently putting a lot of research and funding into developing greener systems.
Some examples of how TBLA Ltd has embraced the concept of Corporate Social Responsibility:
Since foundation – All employees enjoy flexible working hours. Happy, fulfilled, and well-rested people are more productive at work, so a win-win situation for all!
Ongoing – Founding director, Peter Ellington, is approaching the conclusion of a seven-year part-time Doctorate in Education investigating the need to change the way accountants are educated. His thesis is based on the need for powerful knowledge in accountancy education for environmental and social justice. He is arguing that ideas such as including people and planet in the “bottom line” are included in curriculum. Look out for a future blog on how this is progressing.
June 2015 – TBLA Ltd becomes one of the first tenants at the Enterprise Centre – a regional business hub. The building was designed on Passivhaus principles. At the time it was considered to be the “greenest building in Europe” and is still considered to be one of the most sustainable buildings in the UK.
June 2019 – The company introduced a four-day week as the full-time working requirement for employees. We work 32 hours a week, with an extra 3 hours out of the office developing our professional or lifestyle skills and knowledge base. Flexitime also means our employees can choose to work when and where they feel they can perform their best so long as the office is staffed 5 days a week during regular office hours.
October 2019 – TBLA Ltd subscribed to a medical insurance scheme for all permanent employees of TBLA. This includes a 24 hours helpline to speak to a nurse or counsellor about physical or mental health anytime.
November 2019 – We put up a wall chart in the office for the team to contribute ideas: What are we already doing well? What could we do better, and what else could we do to enhance our corporate social and environmental responsibilities? As we carry out our various roles we will add to this chart in 2020 – For instance when we waive fees for three months while a new Not for Profit organisation establishes itself or find a payment plan for an established client that might be struggling financially due to peaks and troughs in demand for their services.
December 2019 – We decided to match our office snack and beverage budget with a monthly donation to a Norwich charity that provides meals for the homeless. We call this initiative “Eat it Twice”. Look out for a future blog on how this develops.
January 2020 – We launched our new website built by Hubfizz’s Karen Black who we met through the Norwich Meetup for Eco-Conscious Business Owners. The new site is hosted by green hosting where the data centre uses 100% renewable sourced power. It also holds ISO accreditations for Environmental Management Systems, Information Security Management and Quality Management.
February 2020 – We are developing an Impact Measurement Tool for our clients. We are consulting and collaborating with a range of specialists in this field from within the University of East Anglia, the wider Norwich business community as well as national and international experts. Watch out for updates in future blogs.
 Heidi Fisher of Make an Impact CIC. https://makeanimpactcic.co.uk/2019/04/ignore-the-jargon-this-is-what-an-impact-led-strategy-is-and-why-you-need-it/
 The Impact Measurement Project: https://impactmanagementproject.com
Bibliography – all websites accessed 16/2/2020
Fran joined TBLA in 2019 after a long career in teaching. Her roles include human resources management, ESG and Marketing. During 2020 and 2021 she developed the TBLA Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) impact service. As part of the process, she has carried out an impact analysis of the TBLA social and governance profile and a whole company carbon calculation with accompanying target setting, carbon reduction action plan and impact narrative. Fran is now working alongside the growing ESG team to help more SMEs plan for Net Zero around the UK. Fran is also on the board of the Norwich Business Climate Leaders hoping to accelerate the transition to Net Zero.