Being a sustainable company in Italy is no easy task, especially if the business in question has already been trading for some time. Among the various obstacles that entrepreneurs must overcome are some insidious ones like the investment necessary to adapt their production, innovation and management processes. These costs are often prohibitively high, despite the considerable subsidies available from the European Union.
While there are many tangible difficulties to be faced, there are, nevertheless, many companies who are choosing to do everything possible in order to avoid being left on the margins of their respective sectors and remain competitive in the years to come. This can be achieved by establishing a sustainable company, now considered a key element of entrepreneurial success.
What does becoming a sustainable company mean?
By definition, the sustainable company focuses on the long term consequences of its business activities. Awareness of the potential impact these may have on the environment and its inhabitants leads the company to adopt greener production methods.
The concept of sustainability can therefore be defined as a company vision, based on the concept that the present and future are closely linked. The main purpose of companies who embrace this philosophy is therefore to find solutions with the smallest possible global impact.
When discussing company sustainability however, it is important to avoid making the mistake of limiting its definition to merely respecting the environment or improving energy efficiency. There are many other areas which form an important part of the sustainability concept, including:
- environmental sustainability with the main objective being to safeguard the environment and its resources;
- social sustainability, with its focus on equality among employees and the abolition of any form of discrimination;
- financial sustainability which creates wealth for people, by combining economic/financial aspects with the points mentioned above.
A company can be considered sustainable once it manages to fulfil the three criteria mentioned above. This enables it to create definitive, functional solutions, in order to build a better future for the next generations.
The difficulties of turning a business green
In a recent survey involving 250 Italian companies, it emerged that around 66% of entrepreneurs interviewed agreed with the idea that company sustainability is crucial to remaining competitive. Nevertheless, 62% expressed perplexity when it came to the methodology required to achieve that objective. Among their most frequent concerns were:
- a lack of available resources to make the changes required to achieve sustainability;
- inability to develop adequate solutions in order to adapt production;
- inability to establish a roadmap to be followed when carrying out the changes.
Such doubts are reasonable, especially bearing in mind how companies find themselves in a situation where they have to partially or completely change the production methods they have used for years. The secret to making it a success however, is not to become disheartened and to realise that the issues faced during the transition period are completely normal.
Solutions for achieving company sustainability
The European Commission provides several finance programs for those companies who want to introduce more ecological production methods. The subsidies are considerable and can assist companies of any size to identify the changes required in order to make their business green.
Another important aspect that can contribute towards sustainability is the creation of projects linked to the digital transition. Via the improvement of the ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) framework, a typical feature of that transformation, it is also possible to indirectly prepare a solid basis for the fulfilment of sustainability objectives.
In any case, the task of optimising a company’s social and environmental performance remains the prerogative of the company itself. With adequate efforts and the implementation of the measures mentioned above, it is possible to go green within a relatively brief time-frame.
Translated by Joanne Beckwith