Making Sustainable Business Decisions In Four Different Industries and Their Effect on People (Social), Planet (Environment), and Profit (Economics)

This page authored by Walt White, Oakland Community College, and partially based on information from the designated websites.

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From the following two videos students will gain a clearer understanding of climate change/CO2 and the difficult decision making process that responsible companies and corporations must go through to balance the needs of the triple bottom line (planet, people, and profit). Additionally they show the need for governments' worldwide to act for the long term in legislating balanced and equitable laws for our continued sustainability in our ever increasingly complex world. Viewed as a dynamic Venn diagram in an ideal world, profit (economics) would occur in the area at the intersection of two overlapping circles representing people (social) and planet (environment). This area however large or small for a particular business is where responsible/sustainable business activity and decision making should occur. However as we all know we do not live in an ideal world and we make decisions/choices based on limited data. second informative video on the "Triple Bottom Line"

Further, to better understand the decisions that businesses, that are trying to do the right thing, have to choose from, a fun and interesting game called CEO2 is included. CEO2 contains four industries from which to select. They are; insurance, automotive, chemical, and utilities. Once an industry is selected the CEO (you) is required to make strategic choices that will affect the next ten years starting in 2010. In 2020 you will receive feedback on your choices related to your goals and make another set of choices that will impact company operations through 2030. Your goal is to maximize profit, reduce CO2 emissions, support global decarbonization by 2030 to help in the fight against climate change, and minimize risk. Before you begin you can learn more about your selected industry or view a demo. From a stack of options you select the best ones to achieve the above goals. Additional information on each option as well as advice from various advisors is also available. Each option costs you a percentage of your budget and therefore you have to think and plan wisely to fully use your available budget, while minimizing expected CO2, risk, and improving profitability. After you have selected all your options for the 2010 – 2020 time frame you will see the outcome which is affected positively or negatively by world events. You then repeat the same process for the 2020 – 2030 time frame selecting from an entirely different set of options. Once completed you will see how effective your choices were in achieving your overall corporate goals. The game gives you considerable insight and knowledge into real life options and the decisions CEOs have to make for these particular industries.

Learning Goals

The goals are as follows:

  • To engage students in civil discourse/communications that lead to more effective decisions
  • To advances students' literacy around sustainability issues.
  • To encourage self-reflection and personal development of their voice for solving societal challenges
  • To promote creative visioning around sustainable futures

Context for Use

This activity requires a computer with internet access. It would work well in a computer lab or classroom where discussion between students can take place. Also the instructor will want to verify that students are seriously trying to make the best decisions possible to meet the companies goals given the many available options. The final outcome results (CEO2) and (stock Price) of each student can be compared and discussed to emphasize the complexity and difficulty in trying to comply with business goals and the "Triple Bottom Line" in decision making.

Description and Teaching Materials

First, two short videos discuss "Global Warming (Climate Change/CO2)" and "The Triple Bottom Line" from a business/corporate perspective. They provide the student with increased understanding of these essential concept. second informative video on the "Triple Bottom Line"

Second, the game CEO2 is introduced. This game gives the student the experience of being the CEO in each of four different industries and shows them the complexity, balancing, and thinking needed in selecting options to achieve the desired corporate goals which are to reduce CO2 emissions, support global decarbonization, maximize profit, and minimize risk.


The learning goals can be measured through discussion and comparison of each student results in meeting the four industries strategic goals over the entire twenty year time frame. These goals are: maximize profits, reduce CO2 emissions, and support global decarbonization by 2030. Further, discussion about individual options for each of the two ten year time frames and why the student choose that particular option will provide insight into their logic and knowledge.

References and Resources