Family Firms Triple Bottom Line

Joe Schmieder
Joe Schmieder

Lost in the commotion of last week’s Boston Marathon bombings on Monday, April 15, was the fact that many Americans, including family businesses, were scurrying about to sign off and send in their final tax forms for the 2012 tax year.  The season for “harried bean counters” has come to an end, or at least to a well-deserved break!  For weeks family firms, taxpayers and their supporting financial people have been buried in their offices, factories and homes adding up what we earned, spent, gained, lost and perhaps misplaced.   One thing that these tax people do very well is provide us with a quantitative tally of our financial position.  According to our family business clients, most family firms had another strong financial performance in 2012.  Yet for family businesses the financial results are not the only metric used to measure performance.  Many family firms think broader as some have developed the more encompassing concept of the triple bottom line: Economic, Environmental and Community.  Great family enterprises, while economically strong, are also stewards of the environment and often lead the development of eco-friendly products and practices.  These innovative efforts create jobs that support many families.  In addition, communities around the world benefit significantly from the philanthropy provided by these visionary family companies.  In the future the bean counters may find ways to also measure the long-term impact of these important contributions, which family firms make to society.

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