Case Study

Triodos bank: Measuring sustainability performance

8 pages
December 2015
Reference: IMD-7-1738

An increasing number of organizations are subscribing to sustainability, but how can sustainability performance be measured? Unlike financial performance, which can be assessed through accounting techniques that aggregate various numeric indicators, sustainability performance is more complicated. For financial institutions the situation is even less straightforward – while traditional sustainability frameworks, such as the triple bottom line (TBL), are concerned with the direct inputs and outputs of an organization, financial institutions have indirect impacts based on the loans and financial instruments they offer. Triodos Bank, a pioneer in the sustainability banking sector since it was founded in the Netherlands in 1972, has been grappling with this issue. Peter Blom, Triodos Bank’s CEO, defined sustainable banks as “value-driven banks” that “prioritize people over profits” by “lend[ing] to and invest[ing] in organizations that benefit people and the environment.” Transforming this definition of sustainable banking into a tangible performance measurement framework was a significant challenge facing managers at Triodos Bank. From aiding loan officers in their decision-making process to determining how successful Triodos Bank was at fulfilling its mission, measuring sustainability performance was a daunting yet critical challenge.The case assesses Triodos Bank’s various initiatives, along with the current best practices for measuring sustainability performance. While some frameworks have been developed to cater to the financial sector, particularly the investment sector (which has many similarities to the sustainable banking sector), no existing frameworks effectively convey the sustainability performance of Triodos Bank. The case therefore provides an excellent vehicle for students to develop a sustainability performance measurement framework for Triodos Bank. 1. Understand the shortcomings of traditional sustainability performance frameworks. 2. Highlight the significant indirect impacts an organization can make. 3. Distinguish between measuring sustainability performance and communicating sustainability performance. 4. Explore the importance of transparency as a strategy for communicating sustainability performance. 5. Identify the strengths of a stakeholder-driven methodology for measuring sustainability performance.

Banking, Performance Appraisal
Europe, Netherlands
Finance and Insurance
1971 to 2014
Published Sources
© 2015
Available Languages
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Teaching note
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