Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) make a significant contribution to the economy, but also to global pollution levels, as they often lag behind in the uptake of environmental sustainability and business compliance practices.
The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) Victoria and Sustainability Victoria found that getting small and medium businesses to engage with their environmental programs was a challenge. Businesses either weren’t interested in taking part or weren’t ready and willing to make changes to their working practices.
To help inform future design of environmental sustainability and compliance programs and maximise the chances of program success, we explored the conditions that would make businesses more receptive to change.
What did we do?
We undertook a pilot study, interviewing a sample of government program managers and industry association representatives from a range of industries facing challenges in terms of sustainability and compliance practices.
These interviews aimed to explore the drivers and barriers that influence when SMEs are most receptive to information about environmentally sustainable practices, how ‘business as usual’ practices might impact on readiness to change and provide insights to guide the delivery of future environmental and compliance programs.
What did we learn?
Some of the key considerations that positively influence SME engagement included the provision of tangible case studies, the use of intermediaries and experts, the offer of regulatory relief and clarity, the threat of inspections and detection, collaborative approaches to change and the ‘visibility’ of business practices.