Owners and senior managers of SMEs do not see environmental issues as a key challenge to their businesses in the coming years.
Despite international concern to find solutions to global warming and major corporations making headlines by adopting significant environmental policies to reduce carbon emissions and wastage, respondents placed ‘reducing environmental impact’ last in a list of 18 choices of the greatest challenges facing their businesses in the next five years.
Key findings include:
- Only 6.6 per cent of all respondents put ‘reducing environmental impact’ in their top five choices
- Only 2.8 per cent of owners, partners, MDs, CEOs and chairmen chose it as a top five issue
- Only 10 per cent of respondents thought that ‘having a clear environmental stance’ would help them recruit and retain talent. Although this rose to 13.4 per cent of Generation-X, aged 25-41, and dropped to 8 per cent of Baby-boomers, aged 42-60.
‘Opportunities and Challenges for SMEs – The Next Five Years’, was carried out by international business coaching organization, Shirlaws.
Founder of, Darren Shirlaw, said, “It has to be a concern that this sector of the commercial community is not registering the impact that green issues will have on the future of their businesses.
“It has already been shown that Generation-Y talent, just entering the commercial world, rates an environmental stance as important in potential employers.”
He added, “It is unthinkable that large corporations, who number SMEs among their suppliers, will not demand that their supply chain contribute to their publicised environmental goals.”
The biggest business challenges in the next five years listed by respondents to the survey were:
1. Recruiting and retaining talent (62 per cent)
2. Increasing efficiency (46 per cent)
3. Finding new customers (36 per cent)
4. Developing future leaders (33 per cent)
5. Controlling costs (32 per cent)
The report showed that the SME sector is bullish about the future of their place in the economy with many believing they will experience growth above 10 per cent per annum over the next five years (64 per cent small companies and 42 per cent medium sized companies) with 71 per cent believing they will be a key source of innovation for larger players.
Darren Shirlaw, said, “From our experience coaching SMEs we know that management time is often spent on day-to-day administration rather than concentrating on strategic issues to help develop the business.
“I would anticipate that being ‘time-poor’ has contributed to senior managers relegating environmental policies to the bottom of the list of things they consider to be important.
Her concluded, "However, a clear position on the subject of the environment and a policy to reduce environmental impact will be major issues for the SME sector to face now, and in the foreseeable future.”
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