A new guide from the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants lays out 10 best practices to help small- and medium-sized enterprises use sustainability to benefit the environment, their bottom line and their customers.
CMGA Tools Ten Key Elements to Sustainable Business Practices in SMEs shares case studies set alongside broad tips. Each element, or tip, includes key lessons that provide more detail on how SMEs can incorporate best sustainability practices into their business.
The CMGA recommends that SMEs:
- Take a broad view of sustainability. SMEs should look beyond environmental issues.
- Define in detail what sustainability means to your company. This will help your company focus on the right goals.
- Engage all stakeholders. Include customers, suppliers, investors and employees in the discussion.
- Remember that you are not alone. National, international and industry-wide initiatives exist that help businesses become more sustainable.
- Establish responsibility and communicate widely. Make sure senior management drives the policy, appoints sustainability champions and communicates the importance of sustainability to every level of the company.
- Take it step by step. This is an evolution.
- Walk the talk. Back up your company’s intent with meaningful actions. Never make the mistake of seeing sustainability as a marketing exercise.
- Tie sustainability to profit. Make the link between consuming less water and electricity or producing less waste and improving profits clear within your business.
- Measure, monitor and review. Develop clear metrics to track your progress and review them regularly.
- Invest in the future. Many SMEs say the biggest investment is management time.
A survey released last week by Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking found sustainability ranks high on the priority list a quarter of small businesses. One third of the SMEs surveyed said they expect to increase their investment in sustainable business practices over the next five years. The UK bank found more than half of those surveyed saw cost benefits of implementing such practices.