Small businesses, particular sole traders or limited companies employing fewer than five people whose business is providing a service rather than manufacturing, tend not to have corporate policies on ethics and sustainability. It’s not necessarily because they don’t value these things – many do – but rather because they see putting such things in writing as in some way peripheral to what they’re doing. Stuart Brown started operating as a freelance environmental consultant in November 1999 and proved that if even a sole trader has an explicitly stated and completely transparent code of conduct and ethics, it earns the respect of clients. To this day Stuart remains one of the very few freelance consultants who will provide his clients upon request with his ethics policy, pricing policies, tendering policies and IT policy. He is a passionate advocate of setting environmental and sustainability objectives that gel with common sense and available budgets. His vision is that Business against Poverty can help its members to understand how issues of ethics and sustainability in the environmental sense can contribute to ensuring the sustainability even of small businesses, by strengthening stakeholder trust and respect, securing stakeholder commitment and, ultimately, making business more profitable.
In the course of 2016, Stuart’s intention is that Business against Poverty would organise a series of seminars / workshops aimed at providing a basic grounding for small businesses in sustainability concepts and how these can be applied, in very down-to-earth terms. The University of Bath has launched an excellent and detailed free on-line course on the subject; the seminars planned by Business against Poverty will equip members with the basic understanding to gain full advantage from that course, should they wish to enrol for it at a later date.