Italian SMEs Are Increasingly Sensitive to Sustainability, According to a Study
The Italian SMEs surveyed mostly care about the issue of environmental sustainability and are predisposed to invest their resources and implement initiatives and tools aimed at reducing the environmental impact on the territory both in the short and long term. In fact, 34.7 percent of SMEs said they have taken a path while 54.5 percent are currently actively working to put it in place.
Opyn’s study center has released research on a sample of 107 Italian SMEs that have turned to Opyn for funding. Opyn is an Italian fintech company specializing in lending as a service technology, which through funds established with banks, asset managers, and corporations invests in businesses.
The SMEs covered by the analysis are mostly companies that employ between 10 and 50 employees (45.2 percent), followed by microenterprises with fewer than 10 employees (43.3 percent), while 11.5 percent employ between 51 and 100 employees. In terms of geographic distribution as well, companies are mostly found in the Northwest (32.7 percent), but also in the South and Islands with 29.8 percent, while 19.2 percent are located in the Center and 18.3 percent in the Northeast.
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Italian SMEs growing sensitivity to environmental sustainability
From the survey, a fairly varied picture emerges: the Italian SMEs surveyed mostly care about the issue of environmental sustainability and are generally predisposed to invest their resources and implement initiatives and tools aimed at reducing the environmental impact on the territory both in the short and long term.
In fact, 34.7 percent of the Italian SMEs said they have taken a path while 54.5 percent are currently actively working to put it in place. The vast majority of SMEs that have already embarked on a path to sustainability say they are focusing primarily on investments that have an impact in the environmental field (91 percent), while 31.4 percent of companies have activated plans in the social sphere and 11.4 percent related to governance.
In contrast, however, only 38.1 percent have defined sustainability criteria to be applied when selecting their suppliers.
The propensity for technological innovation is still not very high
At the level of technological innovation, despite the fact that it is considered a useful lever to improve the efficiency of one’s business with a view to economic growth and expansion, the resources in the field to structure an adequate technological transition are still scarce, but a willingness to increase investment in this field is emerging.
In fact, Italian SMEs are beginning to be interested in investing in digital but are on unfamiliar ground. In fact, while 59.2 percent of companies say they have not yet invested in innovative digital-related projects, 21.3 percent of them say, however, that the reason is that they “do not know where to start.”
However, the percentage of companies (40.8%) that have instead implemented innovative digital-related projects in the past 12 months (such as CRM, machine automation, cloud adoption, embedded finance, machine learning, etc.) remains important.
Of the total investments made in the year, 34.2 percent of these SMEs devoted more than 30 percent to digital, 26.8 percent devoted between 11 and 30 percent, and 39 percent of companies spent between 1 and 10 percent of resources.
Gender equality: still a long way to go
On the other hand, as far as gender equality and initiatives to reduce the so-called “gender gap” within companies are concerned, the challenges appear to be more difficult: while women seem to face fewer difficulties than in the past in gaining access to employment, the under-representation of the female gender in management and apex positions is evident.
In 26.8 percent of cases, the company’s total staff is more than 50 percent female, and in 18.6 percent of cases, the female population is between 31 percent and 50 percent.
However, when analyzing the composition of BoDs, top management, and ownership of companies: only 14.6 percent of the companies that responded to the survey claim to have a BoD made up of more than 50 percent women, and another 15.7 percent turn out to have between 31 percent and 50 percent of their board members female. On the other hand, 60.7 percent of companies say they do not have any women on their BoDs.
From this point of view, therefore, initiatives to reduce the gender gap within boards of directors and at the level of career opportunities are to be considered a priority challenge for the Italian business fabric.
(Featured image by 81349 via Pixabay)
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First published in Crowdfunding buzz, a third-party contributor translated and adapted the article from the original. In case of discrepancy, the original will prevail.
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