Smart Sustainability Steps for Small Businesses 10.16.2023 | Laura Levenson

When you’re a small company, making small changes can seem like a gargantuan undertaking. If you’re like most small businesses, your team is lean, with each member already wearing a few hats. So, adding another hat to the rack leaves you at risk of adding overwhelm to an already full plate, or sacrificing another priority in lieu of this added responsibility. For this reason, many small companies stumble to make the necessary shifts towards aligning their current business models with ESG goals.

Other sustainability hurdles for small businesses may include limited financial resources. Sustainability initiatives, such as implementing eco-friendly technologies or sourcing sustainable materials, can require substantial upfront investments. Small businesses, already operating on tight budgets, may find it difficult to allocate the necessary funds for these initiatives. Not to mention, the returns on these investments may take time to materialize, making it challenging for teams to justify the initial costs.

Tighter budgets also impact how quickly and effectively these businesses are able to weave their sustainability efforts into the recognition of their brand, making it a central part of marketing strategies. Without this marketing push, consumers may perceive small businesses to be less committed to environmental sustainability, even if they’re making sincere efforts and progress.

But hey, there is a silver lining to being small: with fewer cooks in the kitchen, positive change can happen quickly! Without the burden of multiple departments and stakeholders and a long chain of command, good ideas can be set in motion in a matter of days or weeks rather than months! And this agility means you can try new things, monitor and measure the impact, and then adjust accordingly…all within the time it would take for a large company to formulate an initial plan. See – small can be mighty!

This topic was raised in our recent sustainability webinar that I hosted with our supply chain leaders, Adam Bowlby, Manager Global Supply Chain, and Bill Wilson, SVP of Global Supply Chain. Adam and Bill’s team have been deeply involved in Weichert’s long-term sustainability journey to reduce our carbon footprint, and they had great insight to offer small and emerging businesses hoping to map out their own ESG journey:

In what way should smaller companies start to prioritize sustainability within their mobility programs?


Bill: To start answering this, I’ll set the stage slightly from an industry standpoint. Worldwide ERC® leadership responded to the US Securities and Exchange Commission with three distinct requests for our industry.

  • The first was global standardization. Our supply chains need a consistent international reporting framework, and she brought together the many different frameworks in our business to agree to that request.
  • Secondly, Worldwide ERC pushed to create a small business threshold, recognizing that smaller companies are already struggling with tight labor forces and adding onerous reporting would damage their sustainability progress.
  • And then thirdly, to provide a reasonable implementation timeframe from the final ruling to implementation, recognizing that a lot of education is required, which takes time.

We see this in our own supply chain at Weichert; the amount of educating that we’re doing internally, then really pulling our supply chain forward in the process, is a substantial undertaking (but a necessary one). Our network is robust, so ensuring that each partner is aligned with our ESG values takes a lot of time and energy, but we can’t reasonably make any progress towards our goals unless our partners are making the same commitments and small changes towards a better future.

Adam: For small companies, just taking an inventory of what you currently do can be a great first step toward recognizing what more can be done. Seeing what is currently being recycled or thrown in the garbage can give you an idea of landfill diversion. That’s usually done by weight. Or implementing energy-efficient practices and sourcing eco-friendly materials to reduce your impact. Earlier in our talk, Bill mentioned the EPA calculator that’s out there for calculating your scope one and scope two. That’s a free tool, and it’s just one of many affordable and tech-driven options out there for measuring your impact. These are just a few of many things that are the low-hanging fruit of sustainability; small measures that can lead to big impact and are easily achieved by companies with limited resource availability.

Small businesses can also seek to amplify their impact by supporting local and ethical suppliers through their supply chain and even collaborating with like-minded partners and organizations to create a more significant collective influence on environmental and social issues.

Are you a small business with big dreams of doing better for the planet but don’t know where to start? Reach out, I’d love to chat.

Or tap into our Navigator Team, a dedicated crew of mobility pros who have targeted solutions and insight for companies with small and emerging mobility programs.

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Written by Laura Levenson


Laura Levenson is a Practice Leader in Weichert Workforce Mobility’s Advisory Services group. She has worked in management capacities for workforce mobility and Big Four firms, and is well-versed in bringing clarity to the most pressing global talent deployment challenges. She brings over 25 years of experience to her role and is a frequent speaker on the mobility conference circuit.

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