Climate change is a priority for small business owners


25th January, 2022

Climate change and small business: Action needed, support required

A new study from MYOB reveals 82 percent of small and medium business owners are concerned about the impact of climate change, with far fewer knowing how they can help make a difference.

The latest MYOB SME Snapshot has been released, pooling responses from 500 business owners and operators, this time including some specifics regarding sustainability and climate change.

In particular, more than eight-in-10 (82 percent) respondents indicated they were concerned about the impacts of climate change, with more than 43 percent indicating they were either ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ concerned.
Just 18 percent indicated they weren’t concerned at all.

Other key statistics from the MYOB SME Snapshot:

  • Two thirds (66%) believe NZ businesses have a responsibility and should play a larger part in mitigating climate change
  • Almost half (48%) say they already have processes and systems in place to minimise their carbon footprint or otherwise improve sustainability
  • Common sustainability measures for small businesses include reducing single-use products (70%), better waste management or composting (62%), shutting power off in the office whenever it’s not being utilised (49%)

This latest SME Snapshot on climate change builds on news from MYOB regarding its partnership with GreenCollar – Australia’s largest environmental markets project developer and investor.

A continuation of MYOB’s workplace sustainability program (and following a 2019 carbon usage audit across MYOB’s Australian and New Zealand offices), the partnership sees carbon emissions from MYOB’s Australian and New Zealand operations offset by a selection of GreenCollar’s nature-based projects, including native vegetation regeneration and protection projects.

Sustainability continues to be a focus despite tough times

MYOB’s head of Go-To-Market, Jo Tozer said these new SME Snapshot results indicate the depth of importance that Kiwis have for their environment, despite many of them continuing to face particularly adverse business conditions as a result of the pandemic.

“We’ve seen massive disruption over the last two years, and that has perhaps prompted some of our SMEs [small-and-medium enterprises] to consider the looming challenge we face in mitigating the risk of climate change,” said Tozer.

“It is heartening though that, while many may only be on the start of their climate action journey, local businesses are keen to step up in the face of this particular issue.”

Other common methods for addressing sustainability issues at work include having staff work from home at least one day per week (33 percent) and operating a local supply chain to reduce carbon emissions via logistics (24 percent).

Why aren’t more businesses taking the lead?

While it’s certainly heartening to see so many business operators have already started down the path towards greater sustainability, there are still a large portion (43%) who indicate they don’t have any systems or processes to address the issue.

“As we kick off a new year, now is a good time for local businesses to also consider how new ways of working or operating model changes could impact their carbon footprint and shape their sustainability plans,” said Tozer.

The data suggests the issue isn’t a lack of available methods or options for tackling the problem, but one of understanding what will deliver the most impact, as well as how those impacts can be measured.

When asked what was preventing them from implementing any or more sustainable or climate-friendly initiatives into their business, and given the option to select more than one response, nearly a quarter of the survey respondents polled (23 percent) said they hadn’t found the right initiatives for their business, while 16 percent said they simply didn’t know where to begin.

Other factors that are hindering the take up of sustainable practices include cost (38 percent), lack of free time (27 percent) and a lack of information (26 percent).

More education, support needed on sustainability initiatives
Business reform leader for Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ), Karen McWilliams said it’s clear that New Zealand’s small business community needs more support when it comes to taking climate action.

“As the MYOB survey shows, SMEs are stretched for time and resource when it comes to implementing sustainability practices, but they can’t afford to miss the boat on this.

“Larger organisations with sustainability requirements are likely to give preference to sustainable SMEs in their supply chain, and consumers are increasingly demanding sustainable products.”

The recent survey also polled business leaders on what initiatives they think would be most helpful in improving their sustainability credentials, with 44 percent indicating they’d like to see more funding or tax incentives from the government, while 38 percent called for more guidance.

Thirty-two percent of respondents said they’d like subsidies for using renewable energy and more than a quarter (28 percent) said time spent receiving professional advice would be most helpful.

“Local SMEs are calling for government support that will help them easily identify and implement new sustainable practices, and with Finance Minister Grant Robertson announcing last December that Budget 2022 is set to outline further investment around climate change, many will be hoping more support is on the way,” said Tozer.

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Taking action today for a brighter future

MYOB recommends small business operators take a close look at the government’s Climate Action Toolbox, the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority or organisations like Toitū Envirocare.

McWilliams reminded us that accountants are also primed to give no-nonsense, independent business advice on sustainable business matters (among many others).

“As trusted advisors to small business, chartered accountants can promote sustainability by helping to measure non-financial performance risks and opportunities, and navigate the maze of reporting networks.

“This is something we’ve covered in our recent sustainability playbook for small to medium enterprises and practices.”

In the lead up to EOFY, now is the time to be discussing your plans for the future with a qualified accountant. Find a qualified expert near you today.