3 Essential Sustainability KPIs for SMBs

3 Essential Sustainability KPIs for SMBs

Key Sustainability KPIs all SMBs should look at

Sustainability KPIs for SMBs is the topic of this article. There is no question that sustainability management, also known as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), is a mainstream discipline in large businesses. Research shows that the vast majority of the fortune 500 companies now disclose a CSR  report.

But what about SMBs? Do SMBs share the same enthusiasm for achieving a triple bottom line (aka as the 3Ps: People, Planet, Profit)?  And what should SMBs report on?

Considering the significant number of SMBs, this is a crucial question. Without entering into complicated math: it is evident that the existing millions of SMBs (defined as organizations with less than 500 employees) have a far bigger impact on environmental and social matters than the “SMB” acronym could lead us to think: There is nothing “small” once multiplied by millions of instances.

Dealing with sustainability practices is not always easy for SMBs for many reasons. At a start, SMBs have to define what sustainability KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) they should focus on. The type of business one’s running influence this decision. However,  SMBs must consider fundamental sustainability metrics first. Let’s call them the common core.

Carbon Footprint:

Carbon emissions are well understood to impact the climate through the greenhouse effect. Hence, SMBs must find ways to calculate their carbon footprint. Carbon Footprint is the sum of carbon emissions (such as business travels, material transportation, hydro usage….) minus the possible carbon offsets SMBs either acquire or create. Those offset could be related to tree planting, solar panel installations and many other types of carbon “negative” projects (aka as Carbon Offset). Carbon footprint is a primary environmental KPI. It also one that is relatively easy to calculate considering the support of many available tools (such as Carbon-And-More).

Paper usage:

Paper recycling has been in the mind, and practices, of many SMBs for decades. Deforestation remains a primary sustainability concerns.  Most would agree that trees are renewable resources and energy. Limiting the use of inappropriate paper is a complementary process of recycling. Uncontrolled sources – where forests are not appropriately replanted are inappropriate paper sources. Generally speaking, many SMBs have paperless aspirations. They see the benefits of limiting wild deforestation, making this KPI both relevant and practical to them.

Community contribution:

The community contribution KPI focuses on measuring how much help a firm is to the community through donation of employee’s time and monetary contributions. As such, encouraging and sponsoring employees to participate in community activities is excellent for both the firm’s brand and the community. community contribution is the KPI that addresses the People side of the 3Ps.



Evidently, there are obviously many other KPIs that could be considered primary KPIs candidates for SMBs: Water and air pollution, but also many others. SMBs who are implementing CSR programs quickly learn to augment the list of social responsibility KPIs that matters to them and their stakeholders. Profit is clearly one of those KPIs. Research clearly shows that profit is better when  CSR programs drive employee engagement.

Tracking fundamental CSR KPIs is a great driver for the triple bottom line of firms of all sizes. The future will say if SMBs will outperform larger organizations in their adoption of sustainable practices.

Photo by Mia Baker on Unsplash

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