Good for Business: How UK Small Businesses Can Win with Sustainability and ESG

B Corp Month

Across the UK, consumers, employees, and investors are increasingly making conscious choices and prioritising businesses that align with their values. A 2023 Accenture study revealed that 66% of global consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable products and services. In the UK, a 2022 Waste & Resources Action Programme report found that 81% of adults consider environmental impact when purchasing.

This shift presents a golden opportunity for small businesses. Embracing sustainability isn’t just good for the planet; it’s good for business. Demonstrating a genuine commitment to your ESG (Environment, Social, and Governance) can attract new customers, build brand loyalty, and gain a competitive edge.

B Corps are for-profit businesses that demonstrate the highest social and environmental performance levels. There are nearly 2000 UK B Corps businesses. However, using the B Corp structure can help any company do Good Business and embed solid sustainable practices, even if the actual certification is not for you.

For B Corp month, we’ve looked at how small businesses in the UK can start on the B Corp journey. Here are some key steps:

Audit your operations

Critically examine all of your current practices. The first step towards meaningful change is identifying a baseline and areas for improvement. How are you treating your people? How much energy are you consuming? How engaged are you with your local community? Are your existing good practices really embedded in your business operations? 

The B Impact Assessment – the free B Corp tool – is a comprehensive way of conducting this audit.

Embrace energy efficiency and change what you can

Look at changes to your packaging, source materials, and recycling. If that is not relevant to your company, what about company travel, your digital footprint, and the environmental impact of your supply chain? 

Invest in a positive work environment

Review how you support your people in their career progression, well-being, and benefits. Are they engaged in the business, and can they share the company’s purpose and motivations? 

Support sustainable suppliers

Partner with suppliers who share your commitment to social and environmental responsibility. Look for local suppliers who can reduce transportation emissions and support your community.

Communicate your efforts

Don’t be shy about your sustainability initiatives! Share your story with customers through your website, social media, and signage. Transparency builds trust and attracts like-minded consumers.

Now what?

Once you’ve done an audit and are engaged in the improvements you might make, the next step would be to consider becoming a Certified B Corp. B Corps are businesses that meet the highest standards of social and environmental responsibility, transparency, and accountability.  It’s a tough standard, but it brings huge rewards. Joining the B Corp community allows companies to collaborate in a dynamic, supporting and ever-growing international network of like-minded companies.

Becoming a B Corp also aligns with implementing the Government’s growing ESG initiatives and will involve establishing methods of measuring your company’s impact.

ESG Reporting

ESG reporting is increasingly obligatory, and already required of large companies that everyone engages with (Insurers, banks etc) so if you are not legally obliged to report on your own ESG, your input will be required by your suppliers and clients.  ESG reporting doesn’t solely focus on greenhouse gas emissions; it encompasses all the different ways you can mitigate any harmful effects of your business on society and the environment.  Becoming a B Corp means you will have all your necessary measurement practices in place.

Small businesses will still need to act on many important ESG considerations – we’ll expand on this in a special post. Remember, every small step counts. By reducing your environmental impact and increasing your positive social impact, you’re not just doing your part for the planet and your society; you’re also building a thriving business for the future. So, are you ready to unlock the power of sustainability for your UK small business and become a force for good?

About B Corp month

There’s a growing global movement to use business as a force for good, and over 8,000 companies are leading the way. These Certified B Corps meet high standards for social and environmental impact, set and verified by B Lab. Every year during March, our community joins together to celebrate everything it means to be a B Corp. In 2024, we’re showing the world how we always grow our impact. Because B Corp certification isn’t a destination, it’s an invitation to join the journey to better business. And we want to bring as many people along for the ride as we can.

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