Multicapitalism in Practice at the Enterprise Level: Cabot Creamery Cooperative Case Study

The first step is to identify renewable supplies (of water), to be defined as precipitation volumes (only) in the watersheds where Cabot does business — conservatively, no surface or groundwaters would be touched. Next would be to subtract a percentage of annual precipitation for evapotranspiration [evaporation from terrestrial surfaces and transpiration from plants], which in New England can be fifty-percent or higher. Third — allocate half the remaining supplies to ecological or non-human needs. Fourth would be to fully satisfy all household needs in the watershed. And finally, the fifth and last step is to allocate the remaining supplies — something like a quarter of what originally shows up in the form of precipitation — to organizations, including businesses, based on their proportionate contributions to GDP in the watershed.[1]

In 2012, Cabot used the same conceptual approach to assess its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the context of “limits in the Earth’s carrying capacity to absorb them without putting the climate system at risk.”[2] The co-op compared these context-based calculations to conventional metrics — both absolute (actual impact) and relative (actual impact relative to some other variable of interest: per unit of production, per dollar of sales, or per full-time-equivalent employees.) The analysis found that absolute and relative metrics send conflicting signals, whereas context-based metrics send signals that express authentic sustainability performance. This suggests that integrated reporting that simply references the multiple capitals may also send mixed signals (including inaccurate signals), unless contextualized to the carrying capacities of those capitals.

Figure 1: MultiCapital Scorecard for Agri-Mark / Cabot Creamery Cooperative, 2018
Figure 2: The Multiple Capitals of the MultiCapital Scorecard[3]
Figure 3: The Sustainability Quotient: Measuring Environmental v Social Sustainability[4]
  • 1.03 (>1.0) on Safe Food, which inhabits the Social Bottom Line dealing with Constructed Capital (prepared food) that serves the wellbeing of Consumer rightsholders;
  • 1.06 (>1.0) on Commercial Performance on the Economic Bottom Line impacting External Economic Capitals (Financial and Nonfinancial) affecting Customers; and
  • -0.01 (<1.0) on Water, which inhabits the Environmental Bottom Line impacting Natural Capital that serves the wellbeing of rightsholders in Communities.
  • 1.16 (>1.0) on Resource Recovery, which is on the Environmental Bottom Line impacting Natural Capital that serves the wellbeing of rightsholders in Communities.
Figure 4: MultiCapital Scorecard Progression Performance Schema[5]
Figure 5: MultiCapical Scorecard Progression Performance Across the Full triple Bottom Line[6]

The MultiCapital Scorecard, which builds on our decade-plus implementation of Context-Based Sustainability, is emerging as a vital tool for Cabot — and our cooperative of farmer-owners — to fulfill our credo of “living within our means and ensuring the means to live.” It’s not only the right thing to do — it’s also the smart and strategic thing to do in a world of increasing volatility where we strive to continue on our journey toward providing sustainable nutrition.[8]

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