Simple steps to improve ESG credentials and attract funding

Environmental sustainability is increasingly crucial to consumers today, making it vital for businesses to showcase their commitment to green practices to attract and retain environmentally-conscious customers. This shift in consumer values is mirrored in the business-to-business realm, where demonstrating sustainability is equally important to maintain relationships with clients and partners.

Perhaps more importantly, though, businesses that demonstrate strong sustainability credentials may find it easier to attract outside funding to drive forward their growth plans, with ESG considerations increasingly one of the main things that potential investors look for.

Here are some practical steps small businesses can take to lower their emissions, attract eco-aware customers, and enhance their environmental reputation among peers:

Review your supply chain
A key step in reducing your business's carbon footprint involves assessing the sustainability of your partners and suppliers. Evaluate the environmental values, practices, and goals of each entity within your supply chain. Aligning with businesses that share your environmental commitments can strengthen your position; otherwise, it might be time to seek more compatible partners. This alignment also serves as compelling content for marketing, showcasing your sustainability efforts to customers and clients.

Adapt your workplace culture
Simple modifications in the workplace can significantly enhance your green image. Implement recycling programs, food composting in the employee areas, and reduce single-use plastics to foster an eco-friendly workplace culture. Encourage employees to conserve resources like water and electricity, and involve them in developing further sustainability initiatives. These practices not only contribute to environmental goals but also provide excellent content for your digital marketing efforts.

Reduce commuting where possible
The daily employee commute is a major source of emissions. Encouraging remote work can dramatically reduce this impact, a shift that has become more accepted post-COVID-19. For roles that require physical presence, promote walking or cycling, and for those unable to do so, suggest public transport as an alternative, possibly supported by a travel subsidy program.

Set out a green investment plan
One of the main barriers to growth that small businesses face in the current marketplace is a lack of funding, with investors such as private equity firms having been cautious about deploying their funds over recent years.

However, one of the main attributes that investors are looking for when selecting companies to invest in are their green credentials and growth strategies that reflect a focus on ESG-related concerns.

SME owners should consider developing a business plan that sets out how their company hopes to invest in improving their environmental and green credentials over the coming years, for example through investments in new technology to improve sustainability, a route to achieving Net Zero or even M&A acquisitions that will bolster their ESG performance.

Being able to demonstrate such a forward-thinking, sustainability-minded approach could be crucial for companies in attracting the funding they need to grow and adapt to a more environmentally conscious business world.

Adopting green practices doesn't happen overnight, but even small steps can significantly enhance your environmental credentials and lay the groundwork for further sustainable innovations.