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large and small-to-medium enterprises
Green HR practices: large and small-to-medium enterprises

Green HR practices: large and small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs)

Increasingly organisations are recognising the importance of going green to reach and maintain business development as well as success. This is why the integration of environmental management into human resources (that constitutes green HR) has become a crucial element for any sustainable business. Nonetheless, becoming a sustainable business can be a long and rather challenging process. Due to its complexity, organisations must expected to face challenges and impediments, particularly with implementation of green HR practices across the entire organisation.

In this regard, barriers seem to vary according to the size of an organisation. Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) have been found to differ from large enterprises in terms of impediments to implementation of green HR. However, regardless of an organisation’s size, some barriers are common to any business. The most recurring can be traced to a lack of knowledge or understanding of green policies and principles. This shortcoming could be the result of scarce and ineffective communication amongst employees. It could also be the outcome of inadequate environmental training and awareness. Another barrier to green HR practices could be limited financial and human resources. Such limitations would directly impact the capacity to adopt sustainability targeted practices and initiatives.

It is becoming clear that SMEs have some advantages as they are more agile and many can see the competitive advantage and selling point to consumers in relation to being ethical and sustainable.

However, O’Donohue and Torugsa (2016) suggest that small businesses may face greater challenges than large organisations since they may not have sufficient resources and may have limited knowledge about environmental issues. Conversely, SMEs do have greater flexibility since they often have close proximity to staff and can adapt by incorporating environmental and economic goals. This may be expressed through branding themselves as having Fair Trade or green practices and using this as a distinctive marketing tool. There are several examples of large organisations implementing sustainable outcomes but these are more often specialised products rather than the core or whole of business activities.


Search the internet and find examples of sustainable practices for large and small fashion brands. What are some of the features for a large and small fashion brand - ‘Does size really matter?’

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This article is from the free online course:

Business Futures: Sustainable Business Through Green HR

RMIT University