Canadian Manufacturing

Despite growth opportunities, midsize Canadian firms reluctant to spend on sustainability

Intense competition, tight profit margins make investing in more sustainable business practices no easy task, a new HSBC study finds


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TORONTO—Two-thirds of midsize Canadian businesses see adopting more sustainable business practices as a significant business opportunity, but so far, they’re reluctant to act on it.

According to a new study from HSBC, just 25 per cent of small Canadian companies are prioritizing investments in sustainability, despite acknowledging their customers are beginning to demand products that take environmental and social factors into account.

“While many smaller companies are trying to do the right thing, they face intense competition, tight profit margins and the costs of meeting existing responsibilities,” said Linda Seymour, executive vice-president and head of Commercial Banking at HSBC Bank Canada.

Canadian companies aren’t too far off some of their major competitors. The survey of 14 countries and more than 1,400 business with between 200 and 2,000 employees found companies in Saudi Arabia (34 per cent), Hong Kong (33 per cent) and Australia (33 per cent) most likely to spend money on sustainability. Still, prolonged inaction could mean Canadian companies will miss out on gaining a competitive advantage.

HSBC pointed to identifying waste in company supply chains, investing in renewable sources of energy and publicly reporting environmental and social performance as some of the short- and medium-term steps businesses can take to become more sustainable.


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