Language Works’ partner GPM Global recently pledged allegiance to the UN Global Compact, expressing commitment to using its influence to spread these UN principles worldwide.
Product owners and asset managers have woken up to the fact that sustainability is critical to their survival. So, in the next four years sustainability will be at the forefront of all businesses, proclaimed the retiring UN Global Compact Executive Director Georg Kell. Therefore, affirms Dr. Joel Carboni, President and Founder of GPM Global and President asapm – IPMA-USA, “This brings full circle the need for project management to connect the dots between business need and change delivery.”
GPM Global’s participation in the sessions helped shape the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Industry also received feedback on what is required to support this widespread adoption.
“If more companies follow the lead of the most creative organisations in their industry, they will make a huge impact on the world’s worst problems.” Joel finds this seven-year old Bill Gates quote very telling. He states: “Still, organisations all over the globe struggle with equating sustainability with positive, long-term growth.”
In the 2008 Time article, Gates refers to companies using sustainability programmes as a key differentiator that should serve as a model for all business. In the context of SMEs, Carboni feels it’s no longer a question of whether SMEs should invest in sustainability, “…but how to ensure it is embedded within their strategy to spur competitiveness.” He adds: “Sustainability can be a cost advantage to SMEs if it focuses on the organisational capabilities and emulates the core competencies of the firm.”
SMEs are inherently more flexible and adaptive than their larger counterparts. Their size enables them to operationalise sustainability with no radical or costly transformation. This can include new operating models, available technology and new managerial practices. These create difficult-to-trade assets that increase the firm’s productivity and performance.
Most of the world’s private sector activity takes place at this level, anyway, rather than within and between large firms. Contact between large firms and the SME sector takes place through company supply chains. Thus, enterprise development and business linkage initiatives are vital contributions that large national companies and multinational corporations (MNCs) can make to the SDGs. As can other projects to transfer skills, technology and finance to small companies and social enterprises.
For SMEs to become more sustainable, Joel recommends the AICPA and CIMA, under the Chartered Global Management Accountant® (CGMA®) designation that recently released ‘Top Ten Key Elements to Sustainable Business Practices in SMEs.’ This draws together case studies and key lessons from small businesses across the U.K., U.S. and Canada.
Says Carboni, “The report provides a real-life picture of how sustainability impacts the bottom line and shows how finance can harness sustainability strategy to achieve commercial benefits.”