I hope it goes without saying that I care deeply about the impact of businesses on people, the planet and profitability – so much so that all of my services are focused on delivering sustainable change, responsibly.

Given the focus on sustainability in the work I do with clients, it would be pretty hypocritical if I didn’t care just as much about the social and environmental impacts that my own business is having.

I have made ‘Responsibility’ one of my core values and could produce various pieces of evidence that my commitment here goes beyond just words. However, I must admit to sometimes doubting whether my efforts really count.

Potential barriers to having a positive sustainability impact

My doubts tend to revolve around:

  • I’m not (and I probably won’t ever be) an expert in every area of sustainability. I care about climate change, local communities, ethical business, human rights, responsible technology, diversity and so many other social, environmental and ethical issues, but how do I focus on, learn about and do well in every one of these areas?
  • There’s an awful lot of information out there from brilliant people doing brilliant work, but how do I juggle investing in growing my knowledge, using my voice and being a positive influence alongside the day to day work that comes with running a business?
  • I’m not running what would be seen as a ‘green’ business; we deliver transformation and change solutions, not eco-solutions, so what can we really do to further the cause of sustainability?

Positive impacts I can have, given my size and resources

So how does a small business owner like me walk the walk around sustainability?

Working with Responsible 100

One thing that has helped me greatly is the Responsible 100 initiative.

What is brilliant about Responsible 100 is that it has allowed me to zoom in on key responsibility issues that are both relevant to my business work, culture and future plans and issues that I can actually do something about. My time is finite and precious to my business growth, so it’s critical that I focus on the social, governance and environmental issues that allow me to have the most positive overall impact on people and the planet.

If you are concerned about your business impacts but, like me, need to figure out and then concentrate on your highest priority issues, do check out Responsible 100. As well as a free assessment (against 20 important issues), they can support you to benchmark your performance, create improvement plans, monitor your progress and engage with a community of like-minded people who care deeply about responsibility.

Building connections

Another thing that has helped me is connecting with other businesses who have similar values. I can’t know everything there is to know about sustainability and responsibility, but I can join forces with others who care about these themes as much as I do. Together, we can plug each other’s knowledge gaps and hold each other accountable for being better businesses.

Being honest about sustainability

And lastly, I can be honest about my doubts and struggles. I may not have figured out all of the answers for my own business but I can be transparent about where I am at and the work I am doing to improve – and perhaps this just might challenge other businesses’ thinking or expectations.

Cara Halliwell is Director of CE Change Ltd, a change consultancy specialising in people, process and technology transformation. For further information about the services we offer, click here.