Memorandum of Understanding

Between SustainAccounting LLC, Social Accountability International, and the Center for Sustainable Organizations


WHEREAS SustainAccounting LLC (SA), Social Accountability International (SAI), and the Center for Sustainable Organizations (CSO) – the “Partners” – share an abiding commitment to corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability in business and other human social systems; and

WHEREAS the Partners wish to collaborate and jointly pursue development and implementation of a triple bottom line (TBL) performance accounting certification for organizations, drawing upon SAI’s work in social performance and management systems and the model currently portrayed on the SA website:

Description of the Partners

  • Social Accountability International (SAI) is a global non-governmental organization advancing human rights in workplaces, towards a world where workers, businesses and communities thrive together. SAI is a leader in policy and implementation – developing social standards and guidance, delivering training and capacity building, and convening partnerships to drive dialog and consensus-based solutions. SAI trains thousands of people every year and works with brands and retailers to develop and implement better strategies for managing their supply chains and improving working conditions. In 1997, SAI’s SA8000 Standard was developed through a multi-stakeholder process as one of the first auditable labor standards in the world.  It has since been the reference and benchmark for thousands of corporate codes and standards. Today more than 2 million workers benefit from working in more than 4,200 SA8000 certified companies in 62 countries and 57 industries. Social Accountability Accreditation Services, a division of SAI, is a world leader in providing assurance and accreditation of social auditing systems.
  • The Center for Sustainable Organizations (CSO) is a U.S. 501(c)(3) non-profit founded in 2004 with the express purpose of contributing to the improvement of sustainability management practices in organizations and thereby to the sustainability of commerce and other human social systems in the world. Its hallmark contribution has been the development of Context-Based Sustainability, an open-source framework for measuring, managing and reporting the sustainability performance of organizations and other human social systems relative to social, economic and environmental limits and thresholds in the world. CSO is also a contributor to the development of the MultiCapital Scorecard, the world’s first open-source, context-based triple bottom line performance accounting method and a key component of the Certified TBL program.
  • SustainAccounting LLC (SA) is a Vermont-based company founded in 2019 to develop and promote the Triple Bottom Line Org certification program, which, in turn, was conceived and incubated by the Center for Sustainable Organizations (CSO). It is the current owner of the Certified TBL program.

Scope of Collaboration Between the Partners

  • By signing this MOU, the Partners agree to collaborate with one another to co-develop and implement a certification program by which organizations throughout the world can be incentivized and credentialed for their commitments to, and implementations of, TBL accounting.
  • Of central importance to the certification envisioned by the Partners will be its intentional grounding in context-based triple bottom line accounting, by which the social, economic and environmental performance of organizations can be assessed relative to sustainability criteria and not only in incremental terms. In this regard, the Partners intend to build upon other related standards already in place (e.g., the Global Reporting Initiative, the Integrated Reporting Framework, B Corp certification and more), while addressing the need for further specific guidance on how best to actually implement integrated, context-based, triple bottom line accounting.
  • The scope of the collaboration will include all necessary steps to operationalize the program, including (1) codifying the underlying standards and objectives, (2) developing and implementing the audit and certification system, (3) developing and implementing the assurance system, (4) training and capacity building, and (5) developing and implementing the business and marketing plan.
  • The Partners expect that it will take a full year to substantially complete initial development of the program. Based on that expectation and the commencement of work by October 2019, a formal launch is expected to occur in the fall of 2020. Early Adopter/Charter Recipients of the Certified TBL credential, however, will be encouraged for beta-testing purposes without delay, as will the participation of early-adopter, accredited Certification Bodies.

This MOU is not a legally binding agreement and is not designed to encompass all the legal and business terms, but rather to mutually communicate the intention and commitment of the Parties to collaborate and explore the stated scope of work.

Signed September 16, 2019 by:

Mark W. McElroy

Managing Member, SustainAccounting LLC
Executive Director, Center for Sustainable Organizations

Jane Hwang

President and CEO, Social Accountability International