Barriers that SMEs have to achieve sustainability

The lack of communication and commitment by the directors, the inefficient use of data, isolated technologies that do not share processes or information and the lack of collaboration and alliances between companies and sectors are the main obstacles for organizations’ sustainability initiatives. This is what emerges from the latest study by Oxford Economics and SAP.

However, while the value of sustainability initiatives is not widely perceived, the study also shows that the business case for them is well understood. Managers expressed their desire to make their organizations more sustainable, citing efficiency (58%)The best of the brand reputation (46%) and meeting customer needs (44%) as the top business benefits of sustainability efforts. Overall, 63% of managers surveyed indicated that their company already has a formal sustainability plan.

“Managers recognize that sustainability efforts can lead to increased profitability, engage customers and employees alike, and drive positive impact across their supply chains,” said Vivek Bapat, senior vice president of Purpose and Sustainability at SAP. «But achieving these goals requires a high degree of communication and commitment. At SAP, we are trying to understand how we can support these companies in achieving results from their sustainability goals and in defining best practices across industries”.

Leaders in sustainability are emerging

Most of the organizations that responded to the survey exhibited poorly defined sustainability commitments and limited connections with internal and external audiences. Approximately two-thirds of managers with sustainability plans say that the scope and vision of the plans are not effectively communicated throughout the organization or externally.

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However, the research identified a small group of managers – around 9% – who have adopted sustainability-focused processes and are reaping the benefits. These “leaders in sustainability» are defined by traits such as setting clear expectations at the strategic level, applying the transformative power of technology and data management, and engaging with important audiences such as employees, supply chain partners, and policymakers.

“Sustainability leaders go beyond vision to ensure sustainability initiatives are executed,” said Edward Cone, editorial director of Oxford Economics. “They communicate with key stakeholders, both inside and outside the company, and use integrated technologies to measure and track results in ways that promote accountability.”

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