Conducting a basic SD audit
In the early stages in particular, it is not necessary to get consultants involved - you can conduct a basic SD audit yourself. The aim is to highlight areas of actual or potential concern so that you can then carry out some research to help address those issues.
As you develop your business ideas and begin to plan ask yourself the following questions:
- How will my business affect the local community? Is there a need for me to consult with any local people before I start?
- Will the product or service I provide affect the environment? What waste will it produce? What will I do with that waste? Is any of it recyclable? Can I use renewable sources of energy/materials? Consider the entire process you are involved in, from choice of suppliers through to customer disposal of your product.
- What are the most environmentally friendly materials and can you avoid those that are known to damage the environment? For example, these include heavy metals such as mercury, lead and zinc. Such materials affect the ozone level and create toxic residues, etc.
- Look at energy efficiency in your workplace. What does energy cost you? Waste in this area has a direct effect on your profitability. Include use of power, heat, light and efficiency of electrical and other power driven equipment.
- Set yourself a list of business principles for your company. Insist on honesty, integrity and fairness in all aspects of your business.
- Respect the rights of yourself and your potential employees or co-workers. Provide them with good and safe working conditions and endeavour to develop and make the best use of their talent. Encourage employees to be involved in the planning and direction of your company. Your commercial success will depend on the commitment and talent of your staff.
- Seek mutually beneficial relationships with contractors, suppliers and customers, and promote your business principles in so doing.
By taking this approach, you can show that SD is something that you practice, as well as preach. SD should be a part of the culture of your company - culture being 'the way we do things around here'.
Case study - Innocent (London)
Innocent produce natural fruit and yoghurt drinks that not only taste great but are totally unadulterated. In the last six months, the business has grown rapidly from seven to twelve personnel.
Innocent treat all members of the team as a work 'family'; they have the attitude that if the company does well, then everyone does well. This is demonstrated by the fact that there are regular social events - for example, they always make sure that there is a good supply of beer and wine around for 'Simpsons' nights on Fridays - and also rewards related to sales - targets are marked up on a big 'smoothie' bottle in the office, with rewards shown and awarded when milestones are reached.
As importantly, they ensure that everyone is kept informed as to everything that is happening currently in the company by having weekly team meetings. Also, even though everyone has their own area of responsibility within Innocent, there are regular 'ideas' sessions to allow each member of the team to contribute to all projects.
This attitude of constant involvement and equality of opinion has built a strong team and contributes to the development of a sustainable company that continues to see regular growth.