take action now?
Edinburgh has a clear vision to be a fair and sustainable city. Understanding and measuring the impact your business has and embarking on your Impact Journey is a great way for you to join in and play your part.
If you want to learn more about the Impact Journey and what it might mean for you and your business. Fantastic! We’ve got lots of Masterclasses , online course and Impact Journey Training for you to learn from.
If, however, you’re keen to get going today and you’re ready to take action now, this is the page for you.
To help focus your efforts, we’ve assembled a number of toolkits and resources that can get you started on your impact journey straight away. And we’ve categorized them into three broad categories; purpose, people and planet. In our view, if you’re looking to make a more positive impact on the world, the easiest place to start is by taking these three simple steps.
3 Simple Steps to Impact
Define your purpose and think about who you’re accountable for
Make sure you are treating people fairly at work
Protect the planet with plans to move closer to net zero carbon and zero waste
Grow your business for good pillars
Defining and embedding purpose within your business has been proven to have lots of benefits, from increasing staff retention to improving customer loyalty and building trust in your business.
We’ve picked out 3 key steps to get you started:
1. Go along to our FREE masterclass on purpose
2. Articulate your purpose with the help of our advisors
3. Embed purpose into your business to show how seriously you take it
If you want more resources, tools, or some organisations to reach out for advice and support, you can use our handy toolkit below.
People are central to the success of any business, from employees to customers and suppliers to local communities.
These suggested first steps will help you make a real difference in people’s lives and help increase employee engagement.
1. Become an accredited Living Wage employer
2. Make sure you’re providing Living Hours
3. Encourage & support your suppliers to be Businesses For Good
There’s a variety of actions you can take to improve your impact in this area, so check out our ‘People’ toolkit for more resources, tools, and suggested actions.
Taking action on climate change is a business, as well as a moral, imperative. A warming planet poses a risk to businesses, whilst customers and regulators are increasingly expecting businesses to take action on their carbon footprint.
Our 3 key steps for the Planet:
1. Sign up to the Edinburgh Climate Compact
2. Measure your carbon footprint
3. Visit Circular Edinburgh for sector-specific guides on reducing and reusing waste
Access our ‘Planet’ toolkit for more resources, tools, and advice.
Being a more purpose-led business can have huge benefits for your business, as well as for your employees, customers and wider community.
“To produce profitable solutions to the problems of people and planet, and not to profit from producing problems for people or planet.” – a definition of purpose-led business
In the context of business, purpose can be defined as “an organisation’s meaningful and enduring reason to exist that aligns with long-term financial performance, provides a clear context for daily decision making, and unifies and motivates relevant stakeholders.”
A purpose-led organisation has a purpose, or a reason for existing, beyond and alongside maximising profit. Your purpose sets out why your organisation matters, why it is unique, and who it wants to be. It sets out the value of your organisation to wider societal stakeholders. You can find out more about the main characteristics of purpose in business here.
One example of a purpose-led business is West Lothian based Snag Tights who believe they are proof that “it is possible to run a successful business while being ethical, inclusive and kind”.
Another example is Edinburgh based Better Company who are using their design expertise specifically for organisations that want to do good in the world, do better.
Studies have shown that customers view purpose-driven brands as being more caring and trustworthy, and as a result, are more loyal to them, whilst employees who feel more connected to their company’s purpose are more engaged in their work and significantly less likely to leave. With Edinburgh businesses of all sizes and sectors reporting severe labour shortages, becoming a more purpose-driven business is one way your business can become more attractive to potential employees. Use the tools below to define your business’s purpose, and then embed it throughout your business.
If you want to become a more purpose-driven business, you first need to articulate the unique reason your business exists and the difference you want it to make. You then need to embed this into your strategic vision and goal setting.
One of the best ways you can find out how to define your purpose is to come along to our masterclass on purpose in business, or speak to one of our advisors
You can also look at this website, which provides an interesting easy of thinking about purpose, including a series of questions that you could ask yourself to help ‘unearth’ your purpose
Being a truly purpose-led business goes beyond simply defining your purpose. To get full traction you should embed it into your business and use it as a compass into everything you do and every decision you take.
Again we would recommend speaking to one of our advisors or coming along to a clinic or masterclass for guidance on this
You can also use this free online tool to embed purpose into your legal structure. This allows you to set clear expectations and direction of travel, and to redefine what success means for you and your stakeholders
This website provides some useful tips on how you can make turn your purpose from a statement of intent to a real driver of culture, communications, and decision-making change.
The ‘People’ your business has an impact on can be broken down into three groups: your employees, your community (including your supply chain) and your customers.
Treating people fairly, with respect and care, is simply good business practice if you want to attract and retain the best people. Gone are the days when businesses could get away with treating people as a number. Not only is that an irresponsible way to behave. It’s also the quickest way to build up a reputation as a rotten place to work. A place that will quickly lose its reputation and ultimately its customers. A good example of a business who have built a reputation, and a successful business, around how well they treat and engage their staff is Timpson. Check out all the different things the owners have put in place to make sure their people are looking after and know they are valued.
Living wage and security of hours
The most basic level of treating people fairly is paying them fairly and ensuring they have enough opportunity to make a decent living. Paying the Real Living Wage and offering Living Hours go along way to making sure all your people are earning a wage they can live on.
Visit the Living Wage Foundation to find out more about what it means to pay the Real Living Wage (this is different to the National Living Wage which is set by the UK Government), the benefits to your business as well as your employees, and how to get Living Wage accreditation.
On the same website you can also find out about the Living Hours campaign, which aims to tackle insecure and precarious work.
Engage and empower your workforce
An engaged workforce is not only a happier workforce, it’s also a much more productive workforce. It’s been proved that the most highly engaged teams are 18% more productive.
You can find more information on how to engage your workforce here, or ideas for engaging staff working remotely here.
Reduce inequality in the workplace and become a more inclusive employer
Employers are increasingly realising that having a more diverse workforce, and embedding inclusivity into your organisational culture, is not just the right thing to do, it’s also good for business. It allows you to make sure you’re really hiring the best people from a wider pool of talent, and ensures employees feel more comfortable and committed to the workplace. You can read more about the benefits here.
Close the Gap provide tools and resources for reducing gender inequality in the workplace, with sections specifically aimed at the public sector, private sector, and SMEs. This includes a free, online self-assessment tool.
AGE Scotland provide a free assessment and support to help organisations ensure that their employees of all ages feel respected, valued, and able to fulfill their aspirations and potential.
Research has found positive correlations between workforce ethnic diversity and productivity. The Scottish Government have put together a toolkit with a range of suggestions and ideas to help you recruit a more diverse pool of employees.
The UK Government have created a Disability Confident certification scheme. A range of resources are available on the website, along with suggested commitments and information on how to get certified should you wish to. One example of an Edinburgh-based Disability Confident business is Tronius.
Getting involved and helping out in your local community not only helps the people and places in your local area, it can also help raise your business profile. Your community stretches well beyond the people in your neighgbourhood though – the community of people you influence also includes your suppliers.
Encourage and support your suppliers to improve their impact
By encouraging and supporting your suppliers to become Businesses For Good, you can make sure that all the stakeholders involved in bringing your products and services to the market align with your values. B Lab have put together a more detailed guide on why this is important and how to get started.
Be an active participant in your community
Get involved in or sponsor local events, sports teams, or charities, etc. to help out in your community and raise your profile locally. You can also volunteer as a company – check out Volunteer Edinburgh for info on corporate volunteering opportunities
Everyone knows how important customers are. You sell them your goods and services, and you rely on their custom for your income. No customers. No business. However, many businesses neglect the fact that customers are not just sources of income. They are people too. So when considering your business impact, don’t forget that you also affect your customers. Ask yourself if the goods and services you offer are having a positive impact on their wellbeing. Are you improving the quality of their life? Or could you improve it further at little extra cost? Could this become a point of difference or a competitive advantage? Or could you do more to support vulnerable, marginalised or disabled customers? These are really interesting questions to ask yourself as you think how to embed purpose and impact into your brand and selling proposition.
Make sure your product ‘does good’
A truly purpose-led business ensures that its purpose is aligned with doing good, and that its product contributes something positive. This allows a business to amplify their relevance in their stakeholders’ lives. Even if you sell primarily to other businesses, consider the end user and whether they will benefit from your product.
One example is the Tartan Blanket Co. who worked hard to make sure they sourced their products from ethical and sustainable producers, and created much-needed jobs for women in some of the most deprived parts of the world. As well as this they create quality products that will last, rather than being ‘fast fashion’. This means their product ‘does good’ as well as being popular with customers.
Support your more vulnerable and marginalised customers
Is there some way you can provide support to more vulnerable or marginalised groups? E.g. if you’re in the hospitality sector, could you sign up to a ‘ Pay It Forward‘ scheme? Do you provide free sanitary products in customer bathrooms? Can you provide discounted delivery for the elderly or those with disabilities?
The Financial Conduct Authority have provided guidance on treating vulnerable customers fairly, which may be useful to all sectors.
Standard Life provide some useful examples of how they help vulnerable customers through their Helping Hand programme
How accessible is your business?
You may want to consider how to make your business more accessible to as many people as possible
The Edinburgh Tourism Action Group have created a guide to help tourism businesses be more accessible, but many of these tips will be applicable to any customer-facing business
Click here for more detailed toolkits, including a guide to providing staff with disability equality training.
Disability Information Scotland provide a range of resources to help you provide information in an accessible way, including tips on making your website more accessible.
There has never been a more critical time to start thinking about the impact your business has on the Planet. Especially your carbon footprint. Climate change is fast becoming a top priority for Government, employees and customers. Everyone is watching how seriously you take this issue.
Our top recommendation in this area would be to sign up to the Edinburgh Climate Compact. Here you’ll find tools and resources to help you meet your Climate Compact commitments. However, if this is too big a commitment right now, or you’d rather design your own climate journey, we’ve also put together resources and tips on different elements of meeting the climate challenge.
The Edinburgh Climate Compact is a commitment that Edinburgh businesses can sign up to. It outlines clear action areas that businesses should take to contribute to a green recovery and radically reduce the city’s carbon emissions, but does also give space for each organisation to tailor activity to their own particular context.
Signatories commit to “Effect significant and demonstrable change in our business practices resulting in an accelerated reduction in climate emissions that contribute to Edinburgh’s net-zero target.”
The Compact is designed to be accessible for SMEs too, whilst also providing additional support to help organisations of all sizes to build a better future for Edinburgh.
Signing up the Edinburgh Climate Compact is a meaningful and significant commitment that will send a real signal to your customers and stakeholders that you are serious about playing your part to tackle climate change whilst also contributing to local ambitions.
Generally, being net zero means that you are putting no more carbon into the atmosphere than you are taking out of it. Achieving this means reducing your emissions as much as possible, and then ‘offsetting’ – or taking measures to take carbon out of the atmosphere to get your net emissions to zero. Read more about Net Zero and why it matters here.
In order to reduce your emissions, you must first know how much you are emitting, and understand what your biggest sources of emissions are. By measuring your emissions you can also keep customers and employees up to date with your progress, and report your carbon footprint to the companies you supply so that they can track the emissions of their supply chain.
There’s a lot of calculators available, but generally we would recommend:
The SME Carbon Trust Carbon Calculator – this is designed specifically for SMEs and includes Scope 1 and 2 emissions
GHG Protocol – this is probably better for larger organisations and is the most widely used accounting standard. It provides calculation guides for all 3 scopes of emissions
Start to reduce your emissions
Reducing emissions is the most important first step. The good news is that this can often help reduce costs through increasing efficiency and reducing energy consumption. Zero Waste Scotland provide free and impartial support, as well as access to funding to help businesses reduce their emissions. Their support has saved businesses an average of 24% on their energy costs.
If SMEs would like a little more guidance on Net Zero, they can also use the Edinburgh Science Net Zero Toolkit to start them on their net zero journey.
Unlike the traditional ‘linear’ economy, where raw materials are extracted, manufactured into a good, and then disposed of, a ‘circular’ economy works to keep the flow of materials and products within the economy for as long as possible, extracting the maximum value from them whilst in use. The circular economy approach designs products more smartly, re-manufactures and reprocesses materials to create new products from old, and repairs what we can. The circular economy can help your business save money as well as the planet.
Circular Edinburgh can provide more support and information on the circular economy. Their website also contains case studies and a series of top tips for businesses in each of Edinburgh’s key sectors
Part of Edinburgh’s unique appeal is its ‘green’ and ‘blue’ natural spaces, from the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s smallest reserve in the Old Town, to Holyrood Park, the Firth of Forth and our coastline. However, intensive land use, habitat loss and other factors continue to threaten our natural heritage.
Your impact on Edinburgh’s natural environment will differ widely depending on your business size and activity. However there are still actions you can take, whatever the nature of your business:
– If you have any outside space you can consider setting up a wildlife garden or putting up bird feeders to encourage biodiversity. If not, you can still help by planting window boxes with native, bee and butterfly friendly plants, or attaching nesting boxes and bat boxes to the outside of your buildings.
– Responsible sourcing of products and managing your supply chain can have an impact on biodiversity too. Even in an office setting, for example, does your paper come from sustainable sources?
– Click here to find out more about the actions businesses can take to protect our local biodiversity, and the business benefits of doing so
Hibernian FC have done a lot of work to make themselves ‘the greenest club in Scotland’, including moving to 100% renewable energy, working to remove single use plastics from their catering, and encouraging supporters to use more sustainable methods of travel to games.
Helping them achieve a gold-standard Green Tourism Business award, Mercat Tours are part of a Bike2Work scheme, use vegetable-based inks and recycled paper for their leaflets, and work with Changeworks Recycling on their waste.
Arbor Green Nursery get the children involved in their work around sustainability and reducing food waste.