Unlocking Sustainability: How iiE supports small businesses

Small Business Britain and BT recently released their ‘Small Business, Green Growth (SBGG)’ report, based on a survey of 2,000 small businesses, capturing the current approach of UK small businesses to sustainability. Positively, the majority of respondents wanted to improve the sustainability of their operations, a decision driven by personal convictions, consumer demand and stakeholder requirements.

However, financial, resource and time barriers prevented most businesses from turning this ambition into action. Nearly unanimously, business reported that they lacked the practical sustainability support needed to deliver operational change. Investors in the Environment (iiE) was set up with these sustainability needs in mind. Our accreditation framework offers a structured and affordable pathway to embed sustainability into your operations and achieve your green goals, all whilst leaving you time to run your business.

Small businesses are responsible for 44% of the UK’s emissions, so by acting now and driving change in your organisation you really can help to make positive difference. Carry on reading to find out how we can help you find the solution to your small business’s sustainability needs.

A structured pathway

Whilst, according to the SBGG report, 77% of small businesses have already started their sustainability journey, 98% reported that they lacked the support and resources necessary to implement change.

Wherever you are on your sustainability journey, whether you are just starting out, making some initial changes or looking to improve current systems, our framework is designed to bring structure to your journey. Through our E-learning system’s step-by-step process, and 1-1 calls with a sustainability professional, we enable you to develop and implement an Environmental Management System tailored to your organisational needs. To make the process as efficient and easy as possible, we’ve developed downloadable resources for members to use, including a template Environmental Policy and Carbon Footprint Calculator. Some of our resources are available for non-members too – take a look at the resources we offer here.

Measurable change

Whilst 60% of businesses owners reported that they wanted to improve their organisations sustainability, in order to align with their own values, it can be difficult to definitively establish how much impact your actions are having. From the start of your journey with iiE, we help you to better understand your organisation’s unique environmental impact, establish which key areas to focus on first and to track the impact of your actions on these in a quantitative way. Members are empowered to understand, manage and track a range of resources, including utilities, business mileage, waste and more. Not only do trackable resources reductions help assure you that you are making a difference, but there is a financial benefit too! iiE members have found significant financial benefits associated with better resource management.

Recognised accreditation

Customer and stakeholder pressure represents a key driver for small businesses to engage with sustainability. External pressure from other organisations (particularly larger corporations) for businesses within B2B supply chains to meet their sustainability requirements is growing and nearly two-thirds of the consumer market now consider the sustainability credentials of small businesses to be significant**. However, navigating the minefield of communicating environmental impact alone can be daunting. To help our members feel confident in communicating their sustainability status, we audit members annually and provide a recognised accreditation status of Bronze, Silver or Green. We look for members to display continuous improvement and commitment to sustainability, however this translates into your organisation. Check out what some of our members have achieved in our case studies here.

Training opportunities

Whilst the iiE framework is designed to be used by anyone, in any sector, and requires no previous sustainability knowledge or experience, we do recognise that business owners often want to upskill themselves and staff in the area. In fact, the SPGG report highlighted that 39% of newly formed businesses felt sustainability training would benefit their organisation. We offer a range of training programmes, including IEMA accredited courses, designed to suit your needs, whether that’s in basic environmental awareness and carbon literacy for all staff, environmental management for sustainability leads or Net Zero planning for decision-makers. All information on courses, including upcoming dates, can be found here or by contacting training@iie.uk.com.

* according to the British Business Bank

**Based on previous research conducted by Small Business Britain and Oxford Brookes Business School