How sustainable is your business?The page was last modified:
If your business has not looked at its sustainability, you need to start by identifying which areas are most significant to your activities and what you want to achieve. If your business is already tackling sustainability, you need to regularly review and update the analysis of its sustainability impact, the general economic analysis and the stakeholder analysis.
To identify where to focus your efforts, you need to consider all elements to ensure that your sustainability work is credible. Sustainability tends to be divided into three dimensions: economic, ecological (environmental) and social sustainability. You need to ensure that environmental sustainability is not at the expense of social aspects, and economic growth must be incorporated within both environmental and social aspects.
What specific actions can your business implement?
The global Sustainable Development Goals in the UN’s Agenda 2030 can serve as a useful starting point when familiarising yourself with all aspects involved in sustainability. The most important thing is to break things down into specifics, so you can explain exactly what you are going to do to contribute to sustainable development.
If your business manufactures or sells products, the biggest impact on sustainability typically comes from production or use of the product. The extent of impact on sustainability for service businesses differs depending on what service is being offered, but, in general, activities with a significant impact on sustainability include business travel, purchasing and transport of goods, energy use, waste and pension saving.
What impact does your business have on the environment?
If you don’t know in what way your business has an impact on the environment and society, you can obtain help from authorities, interest groups, websites, and advisers.
You can begin by identifying the areas in which your industry needs to reduce its impact on sustainability. You can often find this kind of information via your trade association or in sustainability reports from larger companies within your industry. You can also search for information in Fossil Free Sweden’s roadmaps for different industries.
Roadmaps on fossilfrittsverige.se
Analyse which areas you should focus on
If you want a more in-depth analysis of what sustainability areas your business should focus on, you can conduct a stakeholder analysis. A stakeholder analysis aims to understand how the business’ customers, funders, suppliers and other stakeholders are affected (both positively and negatively) by the three sustainability perspectives: economic, environmental and social.
You may also need to analyse your business environment to identify opportunities for and risks to the development of your business. General economic analyses are important in a changing world. Reading about what is happening in the world from a political, economic, technical, social and environmental perspective is a useful way of enabling you to act at the right time in the event of new circumstances or trends.
By discovering what is not sustainable, you have great scope for actively eliminating or minimising this and instead conducting activities in a way that contributes to positive future development.
Governance of sustainability work
In order to manage sustainability work, you need to draw up a policy document. The simplest option may be to formulate an environmental policy that includes procedures for how the business handles waste, staff travel, electricity and energy, chemicals, and transport, etc.
If your business is slightly larger, an environmental management system may be a useful way to create structure for sustainability work. Your environmental management system does not necessarily need to be certified, but can be presented in a standard document. The requirements included in an environmental management system vary between different industries and depending on requirements set by customers.
Create a work environment policy
In order to create a safe, secure and pleasant work environment, for both yourself and your employees, you can formulate protocols in an HR policy or work environment policy. This kind of policy usually covers health and work environment, equality and diversity, employee participation, and how employees can have an influence on their work and their opportunities for development.
Questions to consider
- Do you know which sustainability issues are most relevant for your business to work on?
- Where would sustainability efforts by your business yield the most benefit?
- What scope is there for your business to reduce transport within purchasing and distribution activities or to reduce business travel by staff?
- Have you identified which sustainability issues are important to your stakeholders?
- Which external issues relating to sustainability affect your activities? Consider both risks (climate change, supply chains, etc.) and new opportunities. How is the business responding to these challenges?
- What scope does your industry have to be more sustainable?
- Does your business have up-to-date policy documents for the environment and the work environment?
Links and detailed information
Find out more about the Global Goals here:
Online tools are available to help you assess which of the Global Goals offer potential for improving the impact of your business. For example:
How sustainable is my business?
Test: How sustainable is your business? – Företagarna (Swedish Federation of Business Owners, foretagarna.se)
Fossil Free Sweden’s roadmaps for 22 industries show the possibilities, identify obstacles and include suggested solutions, by means of both individual commitments and policy proposals.
Roadmaps on fossilfrittsverige.se
If you want to know more about how to carry out a stakeholder analysis, you can find more information here:
Identify and involve – Företagarna (foretagarna.se)
The environmental objectives (Sveriges miljömål) website, run by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, includes quick guides for how small businesses can formulate their environmental policy. There are guides for service companies, trading companies and goods-manufacturing companies.
Quick guides for environmental policy on Sveriges miljömål’s website
You can find more information on tax policy as part of sustainability work on the Swedish Tax Agency website.
Tax policy on the Swedish Tax Agency website
You can find information on the Swedish Energy Agency website about how to make energy use at your business more efficient.
Support and guidance on the Swedish Energy Agency website
Occupational pensions for its employees can be one of the biggest purchases for any business. Consequently this can also represent a large share of the business’ sustainability impact, if the pension funds are invested in and administered by companies that are not contributing to a sustainable society.
verksamt.se – page on pension provision
Responsible: Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth