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Eight out of 10 small business bosses want to be more sustainable


But 70 per cent of SMEs are struggling to turn their ambition into action, according to a new survey

A new study has found that eight out of 10 small business bosses want to be more sustainable but 70 per cent of SMEs are struggling to turn their ambition into action.

The vast majority of Britain's small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) place a high value on sustainability, but many are struggling to put green policies into action.

That is according to the results of a new survey released yesterday by B-Corp advertising agency 18 Feet and Rising. The survey, conducted by Censuswide, questioned 100 CEOs of British SMEs, finding that 88 per cent said they value sustainability and 84.5 per cent said they believe their customers are interested in seeing businesses act sustainably.

But despite this broad engagement with environmental issues, 70 per cent admitted they struggle to make sustainable practices a reality.

The most common barrier to embracing sustainable best practices cited by respondents was the belief green efforts are too costly to introduce - a concern shared by 41 per cent of the CEOs surveyed.

But the benefits of investing in going green seemed to be well understood by respondents, with 43 per cent reporting that the adoption of ethical business practices would boost their customer base, and 26 per cent reporting that it would help with staff attraction and retention.

And it seems these arguments may be winning CEOs over - 80 per cent said they plan to introduce more ethical practices into their business over the next three to five years.

When presented with list of possible ethical business practices the  most important priorities listed by CEOs were treating employees fairly, sourcing manufacturing materials responsibly, and being more energy efficient.

"There's a new generation of people growing up in a time of flat economic growth whose lives don't permit the same consumerist ambitions as previous generations," Jonathan Trimble, CEO of 18 Feet and Rising, said in a statement. "They see choice as endless, but value and values as scarce."

"There are still perceived barriers even amongst SMEs who are better placed but currently less experienced in actioning change than their corporate counterparts," he added.

A growing body of data suggests consumers will gravitate towards companies with strong ethical and environmental credentials. For example Unilever, one of the world's largest consumer goods companies, published research last year indicating that a third of consumers around the world actively choose to buy brands they consider more ethical and sustainable.

Meanwhile, more than half of shoppers in the UK, and 78 per cent of shoppers in the US, said they feel better when they buy products which are sustainably produced.


Source: Business Green