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Reports & guides | 7 February 2019

Using values to promote sustainable ways of doing business

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Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) play a critical role in mitigating climate change, but business owners and managers face many competing pressures – so how can we encourage them to engage with the issue, and re-position their businesses for a lower carbon future?

If we only ever speak to businesses about taking action to save energy and reduce pollution in terms of cost savings, then that is the only basis on which businesses will engage with the issues.

To build deeper and lasting engagement, we’re helping low carbon advisors use a values-based approach to promote sustainable ways of doing business, and bring climate change into their conversations with business owners and managers.

We’ve put together a free set of practical, evidence-based resources as part of a team of researchers and communication specialists working on theGrowing Greener project.

These include the guide and webinar on this page, as well as a free online course to help low carbon advisors talk about energy saving and sustainable growth with SMEs, using language that talks to the values associated with concern for the environment. This work was also published as an academic paper.

About the Growing Green project

The Growing Green project, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, is a collaboration between:

  • Professor Richard Blundel, Professor of Enterprise and Organisation at The Open University (who wrote this piece about the project for The Open University)
  • Dr Tina Fawcett, Senior Researcher at the Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford (who wrote this piece about the workshop for the UK Energy Research Centre)
  • Sam Hampton, Network Navigator for Business Resource Efficiency at Oxfordshire Business Support and a research student at the Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford (who wrote this piece about the workshop for The Open University)
  • Dr Christopher Shaw, Senior Researcher at Climate Outreach.

A large part of the promotion of the workshops to SMEs came from Oxfordshire Business Support, funded by the  European Regional Development Fund (2014-20).

If the UK and other countries are to meet their carbon reduction obligations, it is clear that SMEs will need to make significant, and in some cases radical changes, not only in terms of their day to day operational practices but also in their longer term trajectories. SMEs also influence the sustainability practices of countless other organisations and individuals through their products, services and communications.

Videos & podcasts


Here’s a glimpse into one of the ‘Growing Green’ workshops, part of an ESRC research impact project with our partners Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford and Open University Business School.

Highlights from ‘Growing Green’ workshop for small and medium enterprises

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