Genee Consulting Ltd holds the North East franchise for Investors in the Environment (iiE), a nationally recognised environmental accreditation scheme. The iiE framework helps organisations of all shapes and sizes identify, measure, and reduce participating organisations impact on the environment, whilst saving them time and money in the process.
Environmental responsibility in the SME sector
The involvement of SMEs in the response to the environmental challenges we are currently facing is essential. SMEs are often described as the backbone of the UK economy, and at the start of 2022, there were 5.5 million small businesses, accounting for 99.2% of total U.K. business (fsb.org.uk). These businesses employ 12.9 million people collectively.
Pressure for SMEs to integrate sustainability into their business model is now coming from multiple stakeholders and it makes smart business sense to look at understanding your business’ environmental impact now. Larger businesses have started to look at their supply chains to qualify their own sustainability claims, funders are taking into account green credentials when offering grants and loans, and employees are looking for environmental responsibility from their employers.
Despite these pressures, thinking about your environmental impact can be overwhelming, we often hear “We just don’t know where to start”. The majority of SME’s don’t have in house knowledge and expertise, with sustainability being an add on to someone’s already busy day job. This can mean that addressing your environmental impact falls to the bottom of your ever growing to do list. The Investors in the Environment programme has been developed with this in mind and is catered to the uncertainty many organisations feel. Genee has also developed bite size training and peer support sessions that can help organisations understand a clear path to becoming more sustainable and resource efficient, which has the added benefit of cost savings.
Sustainability is good for business
Time constraints can be another hurdle that SMEs feel like they have to get over when it comes to reducing the organisation’s environmental impact. The beauty of the Investors in the Environment programme is that it is self-led. Whilst participating organisations will receive help and guidance from delivering partner genee along the way, involvement with the iiE programme can also be flexible around tight work schedules. Training videos on the iiE website vary in length, and templates are ready to download to make the process of establishing your environmental management system simple and undaunting.
Often SMEs are reluctant to introduce new initiatives into their organisation, or change particular systems, out of fear this will be inconvenient for their staff. Whilst making changes can be daunting for staff, it is largely about how this is communicated. Understanding the benefits and working towards a common goal which is environmentally responsible but also for the good of the organisation will engage staff and also attract new employees who hold these values already.
New research from Anthesis Group has revealed that “53% of the U.K.’s workforce say sustainability is an important factor in choosing a company to work for”, and 40% of U.K. workers are disappointed by their employer’s lack of effort to become more sustainable.
Workers are increasingly prioritising the environmental impact of their potential employer, and want this to be more than simply a hollow promise or ‘greenwashing’. The Investors in the Environment programme is a great way for SMEs to prove and then improve their environmental credentials. Whilst iiE is a self-led process, it is also centred around continual improvement to achieve various levels of accreditation. The auditing process allows your organisation to showcase where improvements have been made whilst leaving room to outline where further actions can be made.
While integrating sustainability into your organisation may initially seem motivated by business responsibility, it is also important to consider that climate change will ultimately have an impact on your organisation’s operations. As our access to resources will begin to change as we feel the effects of climate change, it is important to build resilience into your business strategy now. Through the iiE programme, your business will be able to determine where their specific impacts fall, and implement effective, achievable and incremental changes.
Whilst ignorance might be bliss, knowledge is power! Through Investors in the Environment we can arm you with the knowledge and resources to ensure your business is not only environmentally responsible but forward thinking and resilient.
For more information on how Investors in the Environment can help your business, email us at email@example.com.