Are SMEs getting left behind when it comes to ESG criteria?

1.2k views4 Comments

CIO and Startup Advisor in Software, 10,001+ employees
For the first time in the history of the United Nations (UN), after decades of putting frameworks in place, they've managed to create 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) that are easier to understand and measure. The SDGs have become a big part of any private sector today in trying to help align the government, the private sector and entities or organizations like the UN. They have become something that everyone can understand in terms of metrics and goals. It's even become a focus for investors in tech startups, so it's not just big tech. A big component of impact investing has become very ESG-focused: there's a lot more money going into companies that are more ethical, more focused on the environment and using innovation or AI for good.
Director of Security Operations in Finance (non-banking), 5,001 - 10,000 employees
I have yet to hear of a sustainability metric that indicates what we ought to be doing, and how we measure that so I can use the metric as a small business owner and a minority. For folks who are trying to break into the market, what is the metric that lays out what they need to do in order to found a business and compete when it comes to sustainability? Because without that, they face a situation where they may not get funding for no other reason than the fact that they don’t live in Silicon Valley, or in a particular country that has that access.

And statistics say that another reason certain folks can't get that funding could be because of their gender or the color of their skin. In that situation, you’ll take a cheaper solution to build and do what you need to do; but then you’re not sustainable, so it will be harder to continue forward. I believe sustainability is important but until we establish what the metric and level of entry is, we’ll be dealing with yet another situation where large companies who have already made it are deciding that this is a good thing. It’s similar to Microsoft’s shift towards security after it had dominated the market, and that part concerns me.
CEO in Software, 11 - 50 employees
The reason I started my company was to try to lower barriers to entry for people deploying. I worry that large companies get to have it both ways: they can afford to pay fines if they don't do what’s required and they can also afford to meet those requirements if they want to. When you only have 15 or 20 people in your company, you can't afford to set aside two or three of them to be experts who know how to source and manage those things. Even if you can source them, you need to know how to source them in a way that's economically viable for you.

I talk to data center operators all the time and all of them come back with the same answer when I ask, “You've got 15 megawatts — do you have a person that only hedges energy? Do you have a person that only looks at how you might be able to do a renewable energy product?” None of them do. Even if they did have dedicated resources, no alternative energy company would start a project that was less than 50 megawatts. But if they could, the companies that benefit from that would not only get the visibility that it brings, which is enormous these days, they would also be able to get power in areas where they're doing that work for under traditional market costs because of the scale.
1 1 Reply
President and National Managing Principal in Software, 501 - 1,000 employees

I'd argue that the bigger companies have a third advantage: They also have the ability to push their sustainability efforts down on their suppliers, which is a good thing if they're doing it for the right reason, they believe in the program and they manage it to achieve real goals. If they're doing it for optics, they can just say that they've pushed their suppliers to answer this questionnaire a particular way, and then advertise that.

Content you might like







2.5k views1 Upvote2 Comments

Director of IT, Self-employed
Enabling GenerativeAI in our detect product.
Read More Comments
1.9k views1 Upvote2 Comments