Importance of sustainability in small and medium-sized enterprises increases despite inflation and high energy costs
International comparison: Ecological awareness is also growing in France
Hamburg, 18 April 2023 – Small and medium-sized enterprises are maintaining their course of making an active contribution to environmental and climate protection through operational measures - despite the major challenges posed by rising energy costs and high inflation. Three out of four companies are now taking appropriate initiatives. This is shown by the current survey conducted by Visable for the 2023 Action Week of "Leaders for Climate Action (LFCA)".
As in previous years, the operator of Europe's leading online B2B platforms wlw (formerly "Wer liefert was") and europages approached decision-makers from small and medium-sized German companies via the market research institute YouGov and asked them about their economic situation and assessment. The results showed that the effects of the current crises have not diminished the importance of sustainability in SMEs - on the contrary. For example, the proportion of respondents who stated that the importance of sustainability had not changed fell from 44 to 38 percent. According to the survey, the importance of sustainability has increased "significantly" or "somewhat" for 44 percent of companies (2022: 41 percent). Only 9 percent of respondents reported a decrease in the importance of sustainability.
Visable CEO Peter F. Schmid sees this result as a positive sign of German companies' ability to change: "The need for companies and people to increasingly embed sustainability in processes and behavior is not new in itself. What is exciting is that this is obviously easier to do when things have to be changed anyway. After the Covid pandemic, home offices, greatly reduced business travel and more and more paperless processes have become established in many companies. These changes are sustainable, even if the reason to establish them was different for most companies. In any case, it is a clear sign that more and more companies and people now share a sustainable value system for long-term, healthy entrepreneurship."
The survey was conducted to mark "LFCA Action Week". Visable supports the organization "Leaders for Climate Action (LFCA)" in its goal to reach a total of 100 million people with information on climate protection during the action week from April 17-21, 2023.
Three quarters of companies implement environmental and climate initiatives
Once again, the number of companies that have implemented environmental and climate initiatives in the last twelve months has risen. Even though the increase of eight percent is lower than in the previous year (14 percent from 2021 to 2022), the curve clearly continues to point upward. Almost 90 percent of small and medium-sized enterprises are now making active contributions to environmental protection. Just two years ago, it was only about half (52 percent).
While pandemic remote work measures - such as home offices and online meetings - have become firmly established in everyday working life, companies are also increasingly focusing on initiatives with a primarily climate- and environment-friendly effect. 13 percent switched their energy supply to renewable sources (12 percent in 2022); just as many invested in the energy-efficient refurbishment of their buildings - an increase of three percent for this usually very complex and cost-intensive measure. The promotion of environmentally friendly employee mobility slipped up to fifth place among the most frequent measures, with an increase of four percent.
Sustainable management in a European comparison: France catches up
The online survey was conducted by YouGov from March 28 to April 3, where 500 employees with decision-making authority from small and medium-sized companies took part, also in Switzerland (216 participants), Austria (217 participants), Germany (500 participants) and France (526 participants).
France was particularly convincing this year. At 78 percent, companies there most frequently implemented at least one climate protection measure. While the importance of sustainability was by far the lowest in France, the country is now catching up: 43 percent of French respondents stated that sustainability has become more important - an increase of seven points compared to last year's survey. The rest of the country comparison also shows that the relevance of sustainable business continues unabated despite the current crises: The approval ratings of Austrian (47 percent) and Swiss (44 percent) survey participants remain almost unchanged.
"Awareness of more climate-friendly corporate action continues to grow, not only in Germany, but also among our European neighbors," notes Peter F. Schmid. "We at Visable also see climate protection as a central issue in our entrepreneurial activities. This means that we give ourselves clear goals on the way to climate neutrality. We already operate our two B2B platforms from completely renewable energy sources, we have consistently reduced the number of business trips and switched to rail for the most part, and the CO2 still generated due to our business processes is completely offset. Our commitment to Leaders for Climate Action continues and we will continue to support LFCA Week as a company in the coming year."
Peter F. Schmid, CEO of Visable
Visable supports industrial SMEs in making products and services internationally accessible to buyers. As a combination of its own B2B platforms and online marketing services, such as Google Ads and retargeting, tailored specifically to business customers, the company offers a broad digital portfolio for increasing reach on the internet.
The platforms operated by Visable GmbH include wlw ("Wer liefert was"), today the leading B2B platform in the D-A-CH region, and the European B2B platform europages, on which around 3 million companies are registered. Together, the platforms reach over 3 million B2B buyers a month who are looking for detailed company and product information. With its online marketing services, Visable offers companies additional opportunities to increase their reach on the Internet. Visable was created in response to the challenges of internationalisation and digitalisation in the B2B sector and today employs around 480 people at its locations in Hamburg, Berlin, Münster and Paris. As a joint umbrella for the wlw and europages brands, Visable is continuously expanding its B2B platforms and online marketing services.
You can find this press release for download here.
An image of Visable CEO Peter F. Schmid can be found here.