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Getting Started With ESG & Your Sustainability Journey

In recent months the debate around sustainability and Net Zero has become increasingly polarised. With Rishi’s intervention, one might even question the point of trying to do anything. Yet, everyone I have worked with since that announcement has recognised the urgency and need to become as sustainable as possible. Yet they fear they aren’t doing enough, or even anything.

So how do we translate that acknowledgement into successful action? Well, the first and most simple step is to harness the actions you’re already taking, whether you know it or not.

Size Doesn’t Matter, It’s What You Do With It

So the old adage goes, and it is certainly true when it comes to sustainability. There is a relatively new term now in common parlance – ESG. For those unsure, it means Environmental, Social and Governance and this approach embraces holistic sustainability. In some ways it’s become the new CSR, but for SME’s and micro-SME’s in particular it can be incredibly daunting. But I’m here to reassure you that it needn’t be.

If you are a micro-SME you may feel that taking any actions will be insignificant. As an individual in a staff of thousands it’s easy to feel, “I’m only one person, what can I do?”

At Spenbeck, a two-person, second generation business, we never let size limit our ambition. Our motto is ‘small company, big impact’ and we’re always focused on the positives of what we can achieve and what our size affords us: agility, tenacity, speed. Add in that as a family business our values are inherently aligned with sustainability and ESG in all its forms, and we’re good to go!

Be Loud And Proud

Change management models abound, but the most effective are those which start with a celebration, as most things should! Kotter’s ‘8 Steps’ starts with you finding a sense of urgency – something Rishi unfortunately hasn’t quite grasped – and identifying the importance of a quick win in generating future success.

Kotter's 8-Step Change Model

Step 1: Create Urgency

Step 2: Form a Powerful Coalition

Step 3: Create a Vision for Change

Step 4: Communicate the Vision

Step 5: Remove Obstacles

Step 6: Create Short-Term Wins

Step 7: Build on the Change

Step 8: Anchor the Changes in Corporate Culture.

In the world of sustainability this is much easier than you think. Take ESG. This is the framework you are now expected to focus your activities on. While it is prevalent in the corporate world, it is filtering down supply chains and it won’t be long before mandatory ESG reporting is required for businesses of all sizes.

You might not have come across it before this article, or believe you have nothing to report. But I can guarantee you are already achieving much in this sphere - and I can prove it!

Take a piece of paper, recycled of course. Draw 3 columns, headed Environment, Social, Governance. Now place all of your activities, policies, charitable works and so on across your business in the relevant column. Very quickly you’ll see it’s simply a way of re-framing what you are already doing. And the very handy part is that it acts as a gap analysis to help guide your next steps.

But for now its time to shout about what you are doing:

  • Share the results of this activity with your staff and suppliers

  • Include this in your recruitment and onboarding materials

  • Use it as a core part of your social media strategy

  • Leverage this positivity to motivate your stakeholders to help move further along your sustainability and ESG journey together.

Yes, there are plenty more sustainable actions to focus on, there always are. But for now, we celebrate! Cheers!

About the Author: Becky Valentine is a multi-award-winning Sustainability and Building Health consultant at second-generation family business Spenbeck, helping businesses, schools and charities prosper through sustainability. Visit their website here to find out more


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