Majority of Small and Medium-Sized Businesses Not Satisfied with Current Levels of Sustainability

Majority of Small and Medium-Sized Businesses Not Satisfied with Current Levels of Sustainability

Cox Conserves Sustainability Survey examines sustainability challenges and opportunities for SMBs
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Tuesday, April 7, 2015 - 9:30am


A majority of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) want better sustainability programs but are hindered by costs and a perception that investments in these initiatives don’t matter to customers, according to a sustainability survey released by Cox Enterprises. The 2014 Cox Conserves Sustainability Survey examined sustainability opportunities and challenges for SMB leaders.

The majority of SMBs (52 percent) are not satisfied with current levels of sustainability, and even more (65 percent) reported that they are committed to increasing eco-friendly activities.

Key Findings

  • Nearly two-thirds (60 percent) of respondents identified cost reduction and company values as the top factors driving investment in sustainability.
  • Monetary considerations are both the largest adoption driver (reducing costs, 60 percent) and barrier of entry (unwillingness to pay additional costs, 64 percent) for sustainable business practices.
  • SMBs with the largest revenues ($100M+) are far more likely to participate in sustainability activities than businesses earning less than $10M (85 percent and 57 percent, respectively).
  • SMBs within certain regions of the United States are more likely to participate in sustainable activities than others – the Pacific region leads the way with 67 percent participation, while the Atlantic region lags at 59 percent.
  • An SMB’s time in business correlates to participation in sustainability activities: SMBs with 10+ years of business are more likely to have an established sustainability program than those launched in the last five years (63 percent to 52 percent).

“This research reveals that SMBs welcome the opportunity to learn more about sustainability and are committed to increasing eco-friendly practices,” said Cox Enterprises Executive Vice President Alex Taylor. “As a company with hundreds of thousands of SMB customers and suppliers, this audience is extremely important to our business. There is compelling data that education can move the needle on sustainability. For example, if companies cite prohibitive costs and low customer demand as barriers to sustainability – we have to do a better job explaining return on investment and the rise of the responsible consumer.”

The 2014 Cox Conserves Sustainability Survey was conducted in August among a national sample of 2,012 decision-makers of businesses with less than 1,000 employees. The margin of error for the survey is plus or minus 2.18 percent and gauges SMB perceptions toward sustainability.

More details and survey findings can be found at

Contact: Elizabeth Olmstead,, 678-645-0762

CATEGORY: Environment