David Tebbutt, SmallBizPod Blog

I spend far too much time poring over information provided by government departments, quangos and assorted institutions in the search for understanding and, maybe, even wisdom. But, too often, I hear the sound of axes grinding and I discover that I’m looking in the wrong places for a balanced view.

I won’t bore you with the details of the environmental folk I’ve encountered. Apart from mentioning that, from their chosen perspective, they are mostly very thoughtful and knowledgeable. And, it has to be said, a tad evangelistic. But only about their bit – be it carbon, waste, hazardous chemicals or whatever.

Quite by accident, when researching something else, I came acrosss a company called MITIE (pronounced ‘mighty’). After doing what I set out to do, I started rummaging its website and found a great deal of common sense, especially in the areas of corporate responsibility and sustainability. MITIE lays out its strategies in plain English, presumably so that its various stakeholders and prospects can see what the company is all about. But, in doing so, it also happens to provide jolly good grist for the mills of other companies that are trying to figure this stuff out for themselves.

MITIE is a facilities, property and engineering services company. It’s a place to outsource all manner of company activities from catering to cleaning to security. It has been down the path of improving the environmental standing, not only of its own operations, but those of its customers as well. This real-world experience beats all the exhortations that come from the theoreticians.

From its practical perspective, it has put together what it calls ‘the little book of good ideas‘ – around twenty in total. I like the one about cleaning offices in daylight hours rather than leaving all the lights on for the cleaners to come in at night. Another is using cornstarch packaging for all the sandwiches that its catering business supplies, knowing that it is totally biodegradable.

Of course, its suggestions often link to a service that the company provides – like having security patrols switch off lights and PCs when there’s no-one around. But this highlighting of the company’s services does not diminish the booklet’s ability to trigger thoughts as to how you might change things in your own business.

MITIE now finds that many of its tenders earn as much as 30 percent of their score on corporate responsibility and sustainability. This, in turn, this has led the company to apply ethical and green considerations to the selection of its own suppliers. As it says in the book, “Backed up by our New Sustainable Procurement Forum, we now make an active effort to fnd sustainabile and responsible suppliers wherever we can.”

And MITIE is not alone. Many organisations want their entire supply chains to be as accountable as possible. And this requirement will cascade down the chain until it touches just about everyone. At some point, probably sooner rather than later, your own customers will be asking you about your strategy.

Will you be ready?

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