Small and medium enterprises account for almost 90% of the world’s companies and 50% of jobs worldwide, and yet sustainability is not that obvious of a priority for many of them. Is sustainability too overwhelming? Is it a matter of big budgets? We belive not, and in fact, SMEs have great potential to advance a sustainable future.
Most regulations regarding sustainable practices and standards are often targeted towards big enterprises or multinationals, as they are subject to having a bigger impact on the environment and society. Consequently they are also the ones with the potential to create a better outcome for our planet and the sustainable development of people across the globe.
However, according to the World Bank, small and medium enterprises account for almost 90% of the world’s companies and 50% of jobs worldwide, which leads us to believe the latter have a comparable impact to their bigger counterparts. Additionally, this type of enterprises are major drivers of economic growth, and within it, sustainable growth.
There is such a big window of opportunity for small and medium enterprises to take the lead in sustainability that it is frustrating to see so many of them afraid to make the necessary changes for their business to thrive together with their communities and environment.
‘Small actions can change the world’
A big reason that is slowing down the potential impact on sustainable development is the false idea that small and medium enterprises don’t have much to add to the cause of environmental and social sustainability. This could not be further from the truth, and although it might feel cliché to say, small actions and changes to reduce a businesses negative impact can actually make a big difference.
Nonetheless, we can’t avoid the fact that sustainability can in fact be quite overwhelming, not only to apply it onto business practices, but even just to understand it so we can make the best decisions for the planet, society and the sustained growth of the business itself.
The constant changes in regulations, ideas or terminology inside the sustainable movement can easily keep many businesses away. But how can 90% of the world’s companies not feel included in such an urgent need for change?
SMEs’ reasons to adopt sustainability
There is such a big window of opportunity for small and medium enterprises to take the lead in sustainability that it is frustrating to see so many of them afraid to make the necessary changes for their business to thrive together with their communities and environment. Especially when data shows the benefits of adopting a more sustainable business model:
- In a market increasingly driven by the generation who’ll inherit the consequences of climate change, customers demand the opportunity to make more conscious choices and are willing to pay for it.
- Long term survival of a company needs to be aligned with the planet and the community it operates in, as it is the only way to ensure resource provision and a positive reputation adhered to the brand.
- Sustainability is about people, and that should also be included within and across the organization, affecting important HR processes, from employee experience to talent attraction and retention.
Being sustainable is a broad spectrum of ideas, practices and even definitions which can take some time to explore and put into practice.
Where to start with sustainability for SMEs
Given the overwhelming nature of sustainability and even the business world in and of itself, we have gathered a few beginning but important steps to take into consideration for SMEs to take out all their potential and help inspire others to do the same:
Understand what sustainability means for your company.
Being sustainable is a broad spectrum of ideas, practices and even definitions which can take some time to explore and put into practice. In this regard, the term sustainability may vary throughout time as new information and knowledge enters the workplace, as this is the natural course of learning and improvement.
But before jumping into such an ambiguous matter, there is an essential part of sustainability that stays the same across industries and business models, and that is the impact and long term implications of the company’s products or services.
This leaves us with a roadmap that should begin with taking good care of the resources, finding ways to reduce our impact and avoid waste as much as possible, which in turn could become a great cost saving opportunity.
Transform business faults into opportunities
It is essential not only to understand sustainability, but to understand whether your company is in compliance with the necessary standards or regulations. This should be the first thing to improve and work towards. Carbon emissions is a good place to start, as it is probably an area of business impact that can be easily and immediately improved.
Rethinking the way you source energy for example could help reduce CO2 emissions as well as save money. Additionally, encouraging customers or employees to find ways to reduce their own carbon emissions is also a way to push sustainability in your community, helping build a better future necessary for the survival of any company.
A transparent workplace for sustainability success
Transparency is a fundamental part of any sustainability related policy or practice inside an organization. Transparent information and open channels of communication are key to get the whole picture of any given issue, understand it fully to make the necessary assessments, and develop an adequate action plan to prevent further damage. Transparency is the base for healthy and reliable engagement across the organization.
Engage your employees into sustainability
In DoGood we believe you can’t manage what you don’t measure. This is why we actively work to pursue transparent and traceable information to be reported and help companies achieve a continuous improvement as well as a stronger relationship with stakeholders to help impact society and the planet in a positive way, helping revive trust and confidence.
In this regard, it is essential to our work to promote good corporate governance, meaning that the processes of disclosure and transparency are followed so as to provide regulators and shareholders as well as the general public with precise and accurate information about the financial, operational and other aspects of the company, including a more accurate definition of the ESG performance.
We have developed a corporate government tool that helps establish ESG impact objectives for employees in regards to the sustainability strategy of the company. Through our SaaS technology we are able to activate and track employees’ impact, creating engagement that translates into improved ESG metrics, reputational value and an overall positive impact for the environment and society while creating a purposeful environment where sustainability is the common denominator.
If you want to know more about how we work to create a positive social and environmental impact, click here.