How to be a sustainable SME?


Making progress towards meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is a task for all sectors, including small and medium-sized enterprises, which account for just over 90% of the Spanish business fabric and represent around 62% of the national GDP (El Confidencial). Therefore, they have a great responsibility to adopt sustainability-oriented practices, and although it sounds like a Herculean task, the reality is that there are basic recommendations that can help any small or medium-sized company to achieve the goal.



SMEs make up 99.2% of our productive fabric

It should be emphasized that sustainability is not only reduced to minimizing environmental impact, but also encompasses aspects that trigger a positive impact in the social and cultural spheres, so the recommendations presented below also include other areas necessary to ensure sustainability.




1. Design "circular" products or services.


This means that the standards used for its design, manufacture and marketing should respond to the principles of the circular economy, for this you can start by incorporating sustainable materials, either from recycled raw materials or that have the ability to be recycled or biodegradable.


It may sound complicated, but it is an indispensable step to mitigate the environmental impact of any SME. If you do not yet have the capacity to redesign your products to meet these standards, you can choose to start by making modifications to packaging or creating an entirely new product or service oriented to the principles of the circular economy.




2. Opting for sustainable suppliers


To become a sustainable SME it is important to review in detail each of the current suppliers and their sustainability policies, if they are not aligned with your values or do not take real actions that contribute to sustainability, it is best to end the relationship with them and choose to look for other suppliers that do have a real commitment to the environment and equity.


Although it is a task that may take time and require progressive changes, in all sectors there are more and more suppliers with a sustainable approach, so you should make an effort to explore those options that best align with the values of the SME. For example, on this website you can find sustainable suppliers in the fashion sector.




3. Involve employees


Employees are the lifeblood of SMEs, so you must involve them in sustainability-oriented efforts. This involves communicating the objectives that the company has set to sustain itself in the circular economy and providing them with continuous learning options so that they are empowered and have the necessary tools to implement the actions that will lead your company to be sustainable.




4. Elaborate a Sustainability Report


Just as financial, marketing and other indicators are measured, the measurement of sustainability indicators should be incorporated, as this will allow an objective overview of the progress achieved and the challenges faced. To accomplish this task, quarterly, half-yearly or annual reporting presentations can be organized and presented together with the results of the other areas of the company.




5. Ensuring transparency


Audiences are increasingly demanding and want to know about the processes and decisions that drive brands, especially if you are promoting a sustainable SME, which is why you should actively communicate the sustainability actions and policies you are implementing, both with external audiences and team members. It is important that you do not exaggerate or hide information about achievements and challenges, otherwise you could tarnish the efforts made to bring your SME closer to sustainability.




6. Implementing gender equality policies


The SDGs include the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of women, which requires that small and medium-sized companies ensure an environment where women and men are treated equally, implement policies against harassment, ensure that salaries are not gender disparate, and that women also occupy senior management positions.



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