Sustainability Reporting for SMEs: Competitive Advantage through Transparency

Sustainability Reporting for SMEs: Competitive Advantage through Transparency
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This DōShort is the first book to address the business benefits and practicalities of sustainability reporting specifically for SMEs.

It was commissioned as part of Dō Sustainability's initiative to support SMEs who want to reap the business benefits of sustainability reporting. Scroll down to the SME Toolkit to read more and for related free resources.

Small businesses make an enormous collective impact on the environment and society -- but only a tiny percentage of SMEs complete a sustainability report. In the UK, SMEs account for 99.9% of all businesses, but only 4% complete a sustainability report.

This 90 minute read will enable you to get up to speed on sustainability reporting and plot a course of action for your SME.

Why report on your impacts? 
  • Sustainability reporting can help companies make more money -- even small and medium-sized businesses.
  • By adopting a transparent approach to business practice and reporting, SMEs can gain significant business advantage, both in terms of more effective internal processes and in terms of reputation, customer loyalty and business-building. 
  • As larger companies increasingly seek a responsible approach from their SME suppliers, SMEs will come under growing pressure to report their impacts on people and planet. Those that get ahead of the curve by demonstrating their commitment to sustainability stand to gain considerable competitive advantage. 
In this short guide Elaine Cohen distils the latest and best thinking on sustainability reporting for SMEs, and offers a process for reporting that adds value to your business which is much greater than the printed or online report itself. 

This is vital reading for SME owners and managers, entrepreneurs, business and sustainability students and teachers, and consultants. Sustainability managers in larger organisations will find this book helpful in assisting their organisations manage their supply chains which undoubtedly include several SMEs.

Free supplementary materials -- SME Toolkit

As part of Dō Sustainability's initiative to encourage SMEs to try sustainability reporting we have drafted a free press release template to supplement the book. 

Dō Sustainability and Elaine Cohen will share examples and case studies from some of the companies who take part -- so please keep in touch!

If you're a large company and you would like to use this book to catalyse a wave of reporting in your supply chain, please get in touch.


Elaine Cohen is the founder and managing consultant of Beyond Business Ltd, a CSR consulting and sustainability reporting firm serving a long list of international companies. Elaine gained over 20 years of business experience with Procter & Gamble (8 years in supply chain executive roles in Europe), with Unilever (8 years as VP for Human Resources with Unilever Israel) and a range of other roles with smaller companies.

Elaine makes a contribution to the community as a Chair of a Women's Empowerment non-profit organization and by assisting students. Elaine lectures widely on CSR, is a committed blogger on Sustainability Reporting via her blog (, provides expert reviews of sustainability reports for ( and Ethical Corporation Magazine ( ), and writes in many printed journals and websites. Elaine has authored the first ever book on the interface between CSR and Human Resources (CSR for HR, Greenleaf, 2010). 

Find Elaine tweeting at @elainecohen or at Beyond Business at 


Foreword by Paul Scott, Managing Director, Ltd.
CHAPTER 1: The SME Approach to CSR
CHAPTER 2: The State of Sustainability Reporting
CHAPTER 3: The Business Advantage of Transparency for SME's
CHAPTER 4: The Roadmap to Transparency for SME's
CHAPTER 5: Guidance for Developing a Social Responsibility Report
CHAPTER 6:  A Few More Words about Transparency
Links and Resources


Title: Sustainability Reporting for SMEs: Competitive Advantage Through Transparency
Author: Elaine Cohen
Publication Date: February 2013
Page extent: 97 pages
Formats and ISBNs:
pdf 9781909293380
epub 9781909293373
print 9781909293366