Many small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) were making strides toward sustainability goals prior to the start of the pandemic, and despite challenges, they’ve ramped up those efforts in the past 18 months, according to a survey of 500 SMBs by advisory company Software Advice, released this month.
The survey aimed to show how SMBs are investing in sustainable supply chains and the impact of their efforts. Researchers found that 86% of SMBs had sustainability measures in place prior to the pandemic, and that environmental sustainability practices were most common. Over the past year and a half, most have increased those practices, according to the survey, with 54% saying they have increased their environmental efforts, 42% saying they have increased social sustainability efforts, and nearly a quarter saying they’ve increased economic sustainability efforts.
“Almost all plan to maintain or increase these measures after the pandemic,” the survey authors wrote.
Respondents also reported the downsides of investing in sustainability practices: 58% reported high direct and indirect costs as their biggest challenges. However, many reported seeing benefits once the initial investments were made: 46% rated cost savings as the top benefit from sustainability investments, followed by positive change in brand reputation (43%), and increased internal morale (43%).
The survey also found that SMBs are using software for sustainability implementation. Eighty-three percent of respondents said they use software to help support their sustainability efforts, and 60% report that software saves them time. Others said software has helped them execute sustainable actions (49%) and save money (49%).
Software Advice conducted its Sustainability in Small Business Supply Chains Survey in August 2021 with 564 U.S.-based professionals in the supply chain field. Respondents worked for businesses with two to 500 employees and had supply chain job functions, including logistics, inventory/warehouse management, manufacturing, or procurement.