While often grouped with small business as part of the “SME” cohort, medium business has its own important part to play in sustainable development.
If small business is the roots of sustainability, with its capacity for impact control, and large business is the treetop, able to scale its impact and influence over others, then medium business is the trunk.
Sturdy,with its own power, medium business draws its strength from combining the abilities of small and large business to control direct impacts and influence actions within the value chain.
As the corporate world seeks to navigate an uncertain operating landscape carved out by the globalisation of supply chains and resource scarcity, medium business stands in good stead with its creativity and innovation, a highrisk-tolerance and an entrepreneurial mindset that embraces change and collaboration.
Like small business, medium business enjoys a close connection with suppliers, meaning the trackingof supply chains is highly achievable (albeit at varying degrees). With tight control over business decisions, medium business can implement strategies and influence culture to optimise its impact.
Like large business, medium business can manage its structure so that resources are allocated to sustainable action. With a firm grasp on its market, medium business can explore strategies with both short and long-term focus and dip its toes into risk without fear of immediatecombustion.
Where trees rely on sunlight, companies rely on their most important stakeholders. Increasingly, companies are being held accountable by government, investors and customers for how they create and sustain shared value.If doing this impacts a company’s ability to operate and be profitable, the company must change its business model to meet those changing expectations.
Business can be a powerful force for good. Under theRewiring the economy plan for sustainable development(Cambridge Institute of Sustainability Leadership, 2017) business has four tasks:
- Align its organisational purpose, strategy and business models
Within a commercial context, businesses can achieve their purpose while operating within the natural boundaries set by the planet.
- Set evidence-based targets, measure and be transparent
Businesses can contribute to a sustainable future by setting bold evidence-based targets, measuring what matters to their stakeholders and environment,and reporting progress.
- Embed sustainability in practices and decisions
Businesses can embed new ways of thinking in their operational practices and decision making.
- Engage, collaborate and advocate change
Businesses can use their influence to engage communities and build public and government appetite for sustainable practice.
Currie is sponsoring the Medium Business Award for the 2020 Banksia Sustainability Awards.
Currie is proud to not only champion medium-sized businesses, but to walk alongside them as together we work to rewire the economy and, in doing so, build a better, fairer and safer future for all.
Laura Browning is a consultant at Currie. Currie works with leaders who aren’t afraid to start difficult conversations about complex challenges, turning visions into strategies and stories that make sense. Laura is also studying a postgraduate degree in sustainability and climate policy.