There are 4.5m small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the UK, making up 99% of all organisations and employing an estimated 13.8 million people – almost 60% of the private sector workforce. SMEs also generate a combined annual turnover of £1,500bn, almost half of that created by all businesses in the UK.
But despite their positive contribution to the UK’s economy SMEs are proving slow to adopt sustainability programmes that could be the answer to them staying in business. And it isn’t due to a lack of initiatives, including free consultations offered by local Business Improvement Districts to Business in the Community and others.
In fact, many SMEs admit to confusion over what sustainability is and which programme to follow. Add some typically poor communications coming from the sustainability sector and you have a recipe for inertia. Unless they are specifically instructed, SME chief executives are going to be slow to allocate precious resources to a sustainability initiative that they do not understand.
Put simply, sustainability has got to be made easy. While there may be buy-in from most departments, there is often concern about who is responsible for the programme and how much time it will take. SME heads need to know how a sustainability programme is going to deliver operational efficiencies, open the door to new
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