How medium-sized firms can develop sustainability strategies

17 March 2020 2 min. read
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Sustainability strategies need not only be an objective for large companies, according to Mazars South Africa Advisory Services Partner Bongiwe Mbunge. Medium-sized businesses often shy away from sustainability concerns for fear of costs, although cost-effective sustainability is a realistic possibility.

Mbunge’s comments come at a time when sustainability is a core pillar holding up South Africa’s economic growth plans going forth. As the economy looks to rebuild momentum, experts have highlighted how South Africa has the opportunity to integrate key principles of sustainability within this rebuilding process.

In light of their substantial carbon footprint, large corporations tend to be the centre of conversations around sustainability. Mbunge has now urged that this need not be the case, given that sustainability is a principle that must run through the entire business environment rather than sections of it.

Mbunge highlights how medium-sized businesses could actually benefit considerably from having a comprehensive sustainability strategy in place, but often shy away from them due to the costs involved. “This can however be overcome by aligning a company’s goals to what sustainability really means. In this way, one can create a strategy that is both achievable and manageable.”

How medium-sized firms can develop sustainability strategies

This is not simple, but the first step, according to Mbunge, is to bring sustainability within the ambit of discussion at medium-sized firms. Only through these discussions can there be clarity on an organisation’s perspective on sustainability, and an idea of the objectives that need to be met.

After that, a business can begin outreach to stakeholders to engage with this strategy, irrespective of whether they are outside of the organisation or on the inside. The staff of the company itself, for instance, is among the chief stakeholders when it comes to a sustainability strategy.

“Having fluid lines of engagement within the business is crucial if they are to buy into the vision and feel empowered enough to act, independently and as a team. If a business has straightforward employee education initiatives, it adds directly to the bottom line and empowers people beyond your business,” said the Mazars Partner.

“Overall, businesses embarking on developing or improving a sustainability business strategy, taking a positive approach that breaks those elements down into manageable and achievable actions is a key step in kick-starting any sustainable journey,” she added.