Sustainability: Opportunity or Irritant?

In a recent paper prepared for a major client supplying high-value items for resale via re-sellers working B2B & B2C, John Lees, Project Director at Global Impact, made the following summary of mounting pressure sources compelling the company’s re-seller partners, all SMEs & spread across Europe and North America, to “think & act sustainable”.

It is no easy task to address the complex issues surrounding the relationship, actual or potential, between SMEs and sustainability: The lack of a ‘definitive’ definition of sustainability, an absence of regulatory or professional guidance & a lack of relevant & explicit “off-the-shelf” targets & objectives are all hindrances but there are several imperatives that, with time, will only become both louder and commercially irresistible.

Public Opinion. There can be little doubt that public demands for businesses to “do more” are on the rise and cannot reasonably be ignored. In fact we ignore these voices at our peril.

Employees. Whether recruiting or retaining staff, their sustainability expectations are on the agenda & in a wave that cannot be ignored.

Regulation. The consensus amongst legislators is that, in response to evidence & their electorate’s demand, greater regulation is a question of “when”, not “if”.

The Customer. Whether we work B2B or B2C, our customers are an integral part of “the public” and we are, or will be, subject to their ‘sustainability’ expectations.

Investors. Institutional investors are already on the move, protecting themselves from a sustainability backlash. A response to their re-positioning is a growing pressure on investee businesses to ‘be sustainable’. Private investors too are increasingly projecting the same agenda.

Key Partners. Large customers & key suppliers can do no more than turn up the pressure on businesses they work with to meet the ‘sustainability challenge’ with growing urgency.

The Media. 2018 saw brutal exposes on; plastics & the wider petrochemical industry, supermarket packaging, car manufacture & vehicle emissions, the fashion industry (H&M in particular), fertilizers (Monsanto and their resellers), public transport (Uber); the list is endless and 2019 will be no less newsworthy (& for some, commercially contaminating).

The Environment. With few dissenting voices, climate change and environmental damage is an issue for us all. And it is an uncomfortable truth that there is no fence to sit on in this debate; we and our businesses are either part of the problem or part of the cure, and will be judged accordingly.”

The paper will be freely available from May 1st, 2019. To request a copy send an email to A pdf copy, which you are free to reuse, republish & distribute, will be dispatched to you by return.