Sustainability reporting despite no legal requirements — four approaches from the SME segment
The business community’s contribution to the UN Sustainable Development Goals is significant and legal requirements on sustainability reporting are increasing, requiring equally rigorous reporting of sustainability data as financial data. Companies encompassed by reporting frameworks are often categorized by size and turnover, excluding a majority of Swedish companies (99,9% of Swedish companies have less than 250 employees). Small and mid-sized companies are often disregarded when the contribution of the business community to solving sustainability challenges through a data-driven approach are highlighted.
By popular demand from our network, we asked four of our customers in the SME segment to talk to us about their data-driven sustainability approach and the importance of sustainability as an integral part of the business and corporate culture.
- Lisa Johansson, Sustainability Manager, Emilshus
- Andreas Bergman, Business Development Director, Glesys
- Eva Eckstein, Product and Sustainability Manager, Handpicked Wines
- Johan Mattsson, CEO, Svenska Krämfabriken
Why do you measure and follow up your corporate sustainability approach?
Lisa Johansson: We measure and follow up our sustainability work to verify our progress. At the moment we are establishing a base line to depart from when we set long term goals and objectives.
Andreas Bergman: First and foremost, we love data and know that the most successful way in reaching goals set for 2025 and 2030 is to measure, adjust, measure again, adjust again and so on. In this regard, working actively with sustainability is like any other business or transition process. This might be seen as an un-inspiring answer but for us at GleSYS it wasn’t more difficult than that. Moreover, our customers are requesting climate data on a regular basis and it is important to us to deliver to remain competitive.
Johan Mattsson: Sustainability is what defines Svenska Krämfabriken as a company.
Eva Eckstein: Handpicked Wines is a privately, family owned business. Our point of departure is working with wines from all over the world, especially high-quality, premium wines from family owned vineyards where they approach wine making through a genuine care of climate and biodiversity. Most of our wine producers are small to mid-sized businesses and several of them are certified organic and/or biodynamic. Their mission is for the company’s next generation to be able to continue working with flourishing soils and healthy grapevines, ensuring a healthy working environment for their employees. Wine grapes are grown all across the world and is one of the fruits with most pesticides. Choosing the right producers is hence vital for us and is at the end of the day about ensuring the production of high quality wines. Working actively with our internal corporate sustainability and reducing our climate impact falls naturally into our company values and how we have approached our supply chain for a long time. As a member of the Swedish Beverage Industry’s Climate Initiative our sustainability approach has intensified and become data-driven since we need to adhere to their sustainability KPI’s. It has brought us to a level where we need to work actively with sustainability data in measuring and following up our climate impact.
What value does data-driven sustainability bring to your business and competitiveness?
Lisa Johansson: Many of our corporate tenants are very ambitious in their sustainability work which forces us as their landlord to live up to increased demands placed on both our offering and data reporting. Our vision is to reduce energy consumption and offer sustainable, attractive properties where businesses and people can thrive. Measuring and reporting on our corporate sustainability approach allows us to be transparent with our progress and demonstrate that we are on the right track.
Andreas Bergman: Our approach has not been in play for long enough to allow us to see the results from our follow-up. That being said, the past years have been very productive in terms of initiating measures and actions. Data follow-up will add an extremely important dimension when we measure the effect of measures taken to reduce our climate impact. The data center business is competitive and offering environmentally friendly solutions has become the norm. Through our data collection, follow-up and reporting we want to achieve credibility and make sure that we focus on the most efficient actions. Ensuring that we’re on the right track through an action oriented sustainability approach is more important to us than focusing on reducing our impact through climate compensation. Measure first, then optimize is a motto that we try to adhere to in all cases. Our sustainability approach has earned external recognition and we were recently awarded Zero Carbon Partner of the Year av VMware’s Nordic organization.
Johan Mattsson: We believe that it’s vital for our competitiveness as a business to remain in the front line in terms of corporate sustainability. Our data-driven sustainability approach allows us to be transparent towards our customers, which is a main reason for them choosing us as their supplier.
Eva Eckstein: We have a lot of faith in the competitiveness of our business model because it has a clearly stated ambition to reduce our climate impact, from both a supply chain and internal perspective. We see that it resonates positively externally, making us attractive as both an employer and builds trust in our brand towards industry colleagues and producers. As a member of Swedish Beverage Industry’s Climate Initiative we have been reporting on energy consumption, heating and cooling, transportation and packaging in Position Green for several years. Continuing on this route by adding business trips and working hours to be able to measure progress and make improvements will further increase our competitiveness
What value does data-driven sustainability bring to your corporate culture?
Lisa Johansson: At Emilshus we want all our employees to feel proud of and engaged in our organization as an attractive place to work. Measuring, evaluating and communicating what actions we take within our sustainability scope is a prerequisite for successfully engaging members of our organization in working actively towards our goals and KPI’s. We measure employee satisfaction and engagement as part of an annual review, which we include in our sustainability report. Moreover, it is a fundamental part in remaining responsive to our tenants’ demands.
Andreas Bergman: GleSYS believes firmly in the importance of doing the right thing. Additionally, we prefer to back up our statements with hard facts and data. Measuring and following up on our sustainability work through a data-driven approach falls naturally within our corporate culture.
Johan Mattsson: Sustainability permeates our corporate culture and values. Being able to base both strategic and everyday decisions on insights retrieved from our data-driven sustainability approach, we can safely say that sustainability is in our company DNA.
Eva Eckstein: It strengthens us as a business and creates an awareness on what we stand for. A colleague of mine recently told me that she feels proud to work for a company that “walks the talk” and not only has a vision to work sustainably but actually works actively on reducing our emissions through active decisions ranging from choice of transportation mode, what coffee to serve to what producers we work with.
Do you have any advice to other companies that fall outside legal reporting requirements but nevertheless want to get started in measuring, following up and reporting on their corporate sustainability approach?
Lisa Johansson: It is much better to start early in establishing structures and focus on expanding those as your sustainability work evolves. A successful sustainability transition takes time and needs to be worked through in the entire organization. Reach out to specialists for help in finding your focus areas, stakeholder analysis and commence working in areas where you can achieve the greatest value for both your business and the climate. Identify win-win solutions for your business to become sustainable from a financial, environmental and social perspective. Don’t forget that the sustainability transition opens up for new business opportunities!
Andreas Bergman: It can be pretty complex and I’m glad we took in external help early on in the process of structuring our work. It also helps to be transparent in communicating your goals to the outside world – it certainly creates a pressure to get things done. I wish more companies did just that, especially in the supply chain.
Johan Mattsson: I think it’s important to start identifying your own ”why”. Start dealing with small, everyday changes that quickly send out signals that change is underway within the entire organization.
Eva Eckstein: Just do it! We want to maximize our positive impact and minimize our negative impact. Turning our sustainability work into a data-driven approach for reporting was an easy decision and very straightforward to implement. Start small and scale up as you go along, inform your colleagues so that they are aware and aligned on what is happening and don’t forget to communicate your transition to external partners. Continuously improving our positive impact is efficiently done when we achieve comparability through data.
Many thanks Eva, Johan, Andreas and Lisa for sharing your valuable experiences and advice!
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