Small Businesses Set Their Sights on Sustainability

This report, created by a coalition of accounting groups under the banner of the Prince of England's Accounting for Sustainability project, looks at small- and medium-sized businesses on both sides of the Atlantic to determine what bottom-line benefits SMEs get from green practices.

From the introduction to the report:

There are many ways to interpret the term sustainability, but whether it means environmental performance, corporate citizenship, longterm business perspectives or all three, it is a growing priority for businesses of all sizes. We spoke to many small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to find out how smaller companies can implement sustainable business practices for the benefit of the environment, their communities, their customers and their bottom line.


There can be no doubt that sustainability has become an important priority for many businesses across Europe and North America over the last decade as leading companies have recognized that successful sustainability performance translates to successful business performance. But sustainability means so much more than reducing greenhouse gas emissions or improving energy efficiency. It also means businesses becoming more involved in their local communities and setting long-term goals that go beyond the next quarter’s financial results.

In 2010 the AICPA, CIMA and CICA, all of which are members of the Prince’s Accounting for Sustainability Project (A4S), surveyed over 2,000 organizational leaders and interviewed sustainability executives to determine the state of corporate sustainability practices and the level of finance function involvement in corporate sustainability initiatives. Over 1,300 of the responses were from SME companies (less than 1,000 employees).

The importance of this wider, long-term perspective on sustainability is borne out by the case studies in the following pages compiled by CICA, CIMA and AICPA. They show SMEs taking very different approaches to the same core issues and highlight the findings of the 2010 survey, which charted the growing emphasis SMEs are placing on every aspect of sustainability.