December 3, 2014, by ICCSR

Helping small firms have a big influence

If you’ve not yet seen the video and report of our recent Small is Beautiful event, then you’d be well advised to take a look and get a sense of some of the great discussions that took place about the future sustainability of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

The event, which was part of the ICCSR’s MBA Business Practice Week, was held at Nottingham University Business School in October and looked at how some of the big players on the CSR scene can help SMEs become more sustainable.

Delegates heard that despite the great impact SMEs can have on sustainability, there are a number of barriers that typically prevent small businesses from taking up the agenda effectively. These range from a short-termist outlook and lack of awareness to a dearth of resources and a lack of power when it comes to influencing stakeholders, such as suppliers, who could help to introduce change.

Debate at the event focussed on how SMEs need to be encouraged to work with each other – and others – to enhance their effectiveness and leverage more influence. This they can do by working with initiatives such as Business and the Community and the Global Compact (who both attended and supported the event) as well with governments, local authorities and universities.

Delegates were told that universities can provide sustainability incubation spaces for SMEs, and support them with knowledge transfer and collaborative research projects that have the potential to transform the way they do business.

Given that 95% of registered companies around the world are SMEs, all were agreed that more attention needs to be paid to helping small firms raise their game in this important area.

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