Sustainability reporting has become increasingly important for businesses of all sizes in recent years. While larger corporations have been leading the way in sustainability reporting, small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) have been slower to adopt this practice. However, SMBs can also benefit from sustainability reporting, and it can be a valuable tool for demonstrating their commitment to sustainability and attracting customers who value sustainable practices.
What is Sustainability Reporting?
Sustainability reporting is the practice of measuring, disclosing, and being transparent about a business's environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance. It involves reporting on factors such as energy and water use, greenhouse gas emissions, waste reduction, employee health and safety, diversity and inclusion, and ethical business practices.
Why is Sustainability Reporting Important for SMBs?
1. Demonstrate commitment to sustainability: Sustainability reporting provides a way for SMBs to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability and showcase their efforts to reduce their environmental impact, improve social conditions, and operate ethically.
2. Attract customers who value sustainability: Sustainability is increasingly important to consumers, and many are willing to pay a premium for products and services that are environmentally and socially responsible. By demonstrating their sustainability efforts through reporting, SMBs can attract customers who value sustainability and differentiate themselves from competitors.
3. Engage employees: Sustainability reporting can also help SMBs engage their employees by demonstrating the company's commitment to creating a positive impact on the environment and society. This can improve employee morale, retention, and productivity.
4. Access to funding: Sustainability reporting can also help SMBs access funding from investors who prioritize ESG performance. Many investors are increasingly looking for businesses that have sustainable practices and are transparent about their ESG performance.
5. Risk management: Sustainability reporting can help SMBs identify potential risks related to environmental, social, and governance issues, and develop strategies to mitigate those risks. This can help businesses operate more sustainably and avoid negative impacts on their reputation and financial performance.
How Can SMBs Get Started with Sustainability Reporting?
Getting started with sustainability reporting can seem daunting, especially for SMBs with limited resources. However, there are several resources available to help businesses get started, including sustainability reporting frameworks such as the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB). These frameworks provide guidance on sustainability reporting and can help businesses identify which sustainability issues are most relevant to their operations.
SMBs can also start by measuring and tracking their sustainability performance using simple tools such as the new age SaaS platforms that have zero touch, zero code, zero deployment fee. It's important to start small and focus on a few key sustainability metrics that are most relevant to the business. Here are a few actions that do not cost much and take very little time.
1. Identify Relevant ESG Metrics: SMBs should start by identifying the ESG metrics that are most relevant to their operations. For example, a manufacturing company might focus on metrics related to energy use, water consumption, and waste reduction, while a technology company might focus on emissions from development centres, business travel, e-waste etc.
2. Set Goals: SMBs should set goals related to ESG metrics and track their progress toward those goals. Goals should be specific, measurable, and time-bound.
3. Establish Data Collection and Reporting Processes: SMBs should establish processes for collecting and reporting ESG data. This may involve collecting data from internal systems, external sources, or a combination of both.
4. Create ESG Reports: SMBs should create ESG reports that provide information about their ESG performance. These reports should be transparent, accurate, and easy to understand.
5. Engage with Stakeholders with reporting standards: SMBs should engage with stakeholders such as customers, suppliers, and community members to understand their perspectives on ESG issues and incorporate feedback into their ESG reporting. SMBs that are suppliers to large customers might need to do EcoVadis or CDP reporting.
Sustainability reporting is an important norm for SMBs to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability, attract customers who value sustainability, engage employees, attract investors, and manage risks. While getting started with sustainability reporting can seem daunting, there are resources available to help businesses get started and focus on the most relevant sustainability issues for their operations. By embracing sustainability reporting, SMBs can position themselves for long-term success and make a positive impact on the environment and society.
Treeni has built a disruptive SaaS platform called resustain™ SMB to address the unique needs of SMEs. resustain™ SMB simplifies ESG data management, performance management, and reporting & disclosures. With its 0 touch, 0 code, 0 deployment fee approach, it helps SMEs automate data collection using templates, provides insights for decision-making, and addresses key business needs.