How can SMEs boost their ESG performance?  

01 March 2023 


Sustainability is a priority for businesses of all shapes and sizes 

There is no question that ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) factors are a hot topic for businesses today. Companies of all shapes and sizes are seeing their sustainability credentials thrust into the spotlight, and for good reason. Strains on resources and finances are being felt across the globe and increasing pressure from consumers, stakeholders and investors for businesses to be more ethical and environmentally conscious are driving the need for transparency. Add to this the constantly evolving landscape of standards, frameworks and regulatory requirements and it can be hard to see which is the best path forward for your business, especially if you’re a small and medium enterprise (SME).   

ESG challenges facing SMEs 

Depending on your sector, location and supply chain demands, the requirements for ESG reporting will vary. Regardless of whether your ESG reporting is a mandatory or voluntary endeavour, it’s clear that pressures are being felt even more by small to medium sized businesses. With demands to keep businesses going in this economically challenging time, resources can often be stretched for SMEs and start-ups. Even with the best will in the world developing an ESG strategy (with its wide array of considerations and approaches) can all too often be left on the to-do list. 

Here are just a few of the challenges we see SMEs facing when it comes to reporting on their sustainability journey: 

  • How to start? Whilst there is a realisation that sustainability will need to be at the forefront of companies, the methodology can be confused. SMEs have limited in house knowledge which makes the decision to drive ESG even more prohibitive. The importance of starting the journey is the key, whilst realising that basic starting points can still have a very positive effect on the business. 
  • Small teams (compared to larger corporate companies) can make reporting difficult. Many larger businesses have a dedicated individual or even department looking after sustainability; most SMEs don’t have this luxury and therefore reporting can be inconsistent and difficult to measure. 
  • Confusion over what to track and when to track it. For SMEs with limited resources, having specific ESG knowledge embedded within the business is not realistic. That can leave many small business owners calling upon Google to help with ESG advice and reporting best practice. 
  • Budget – there is a common misconception that ESG reporting is expensive. This ultimately depends which platform or provider you work with, but at Turnkey we believe there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. ESG solutions should be tailored to your individual needs so depending on what you’re looking to track and achieve, creating a strategy can be less costly than you might think. 
  • How to act on data. With limited expert ESG knowledge in-house, many SMEs find it overwhelming to collate data and make sense of it. 

With many SME budget and staffing resources stretched, it can be tempting to look for a ‘budget’ or ‘blanket’ solution to ESG reporting. But many of these don’t get close to offering the help, support and guidance that your business might actually require.  

If you’re an SME struggling with your approach to ESG, we’re here to help.  

Creating a tailored ESG solution 

With pressures increasing and regulations becoming more stringent and mandatory across the globe, there has never been a better or more important time to get started on your ESG journey. But there are a number of barriers to overcome for SMEs; often the solutions on offer can produce an ESG report but without fully understanding and being able to interpret the data it can be difficult to know whether you’re aligning with regulations or creating positive change for your business and its future. Solutions available for SMEs are often focused on the outputs of reporting and compliance, with little or no regard for the process used to generate the results. But at Turnkey, we do things differently. We focus on the inputs to ensure ESG goals are being met, now and in the future.  

Setting your business up for long-term success 

At Turnkey, we have listened to the business owners, managers and ESG leads that we deal with. Using our vast experience in this field we know the best path for SMEs is one with a focus on the data and how that creates the outcome.  

We work with SMEs across multiple sectors to assess where they are on their ESG journey. Whether a business is just starting out or somewhere further down the line, we can make recommendations on the best way to move forward.  

We work closely with businesses to plan a roadmap based on individual requirements, priorities and available resources because we believe there isn’t just one solution for businesses to utilise (no matter the size). We’re passionate about helping SMEs streamline their ESG reporting. Having a solid strategy in place can offer a variety of business benefits, helping you: 

  • Keep track of your company’s sustainability performance so you can ensure you’re complying with legislation 
  • Avoid greenwashing with real data backed by real insight 
  • Mitigate risk across your business including the supply chain 
  • Build awareness of your carbon footprint and how you can help reduce it to help fight climate change 
  • Understand your environmental, social and governance data in real-time, so you can take action to boost efficiency and save costs  
  • Create transparency across your business and communicate this effectively to investors, consumers, and stakeholders  

Our expert advisory team has the ability and flexibility to work with you to scale your reporting in a way that suits your needs.  

We have worked with a number of businesses to create bespoke plans that bring together real insights to create a real impact. One example of this is our work with Foodsta. Working closely with the team we created a sustainability roadmap and ESG framework, delivered training for their employees, collated and reported on ESG performance across five of their sites, and developed advanced analytics via our platform, Sustainion. Customising their interface, we helped the business address ESG data gaps, identify key sustainability drivers and cost savings, and helped them strengthen their ESG leadership position within their industry. Read the full case study here

Whether you need help understanding the fundamentals of ESG or you’re looking to improve on what you’re already doing, our team is here every step of the way to help you make the most of your resources.

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How to get started on your ESG journey

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