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Businesses that focus on adopting sustainable practices not only contribute to improving their environment, but they also benefit by becoming more efficient, more competitive, and achieving greater employee engagement. For small businesses, the need to develop a plan to become climate ready is becoming more critical than ever.

MentorsWork recently hosted a half-day conference on this topic in conjunction with Skillnet Ireland’s Climate Ready Academy. Titled ‘Climate Reality for Small Business,’ the conference focused on helping small business understand what the climate reality means in terms of business obligations and how to start putting a plan in place.

Rachael McFarlane, SFA Skillnet Network Manager, said: “A key part of climate action for any business is to look at their supply chain and ensure that purchasing choices are based on sustainable factors. Investors are now looking at sustainability as a key measure of return on investment. This means that small businesses will need to do business more sustainably to ensure competitiveness, particularly when tendering for contracts.”

Preparing a plan

An award-winning initiative from Skillnet Ireland and the SFA, MentorsWork helps Irish SME’s improve productivity, and sustain and grow their business. With more than 1,000 businesses supported to date, the programme is keenly aware of the importance of SME’s preparing for climate action.

According to McFarlane, where businesses can be supported in adopting sustainable practices it will help them to not only tackle climate change but to become more efficient, more competitive, enhance employee engagement and improve profitability.

McFarlane added: “As the EU ‘Green Deal’ has agreed a plan to make Europe climate neutral by 2050, small business must focus urgently on sustainability and take action to combat climate change and its impact. MentorsWork has recently introduced a new green economy tier to its programme to help small businesses to understand how they can take climate action and find the relevant supports to help them. This conference and workshop event brought companies together from various sectors to help them get started on developing a climate action plan and very importantly to learn from each other and share ideas.”

Facing the climate reality

McFarlane highlighted that the first step in facing climate reality is to understand what it is, what climate action means for a particular business and where it fits in the whole area of sustainability.

“Then companies can look at what they do well currently and where they can improve. From this, a climate action plan can be developed with key goals and measurement indicators. As there are many financial supports available for sustainable practices, getting support to locate and access them is important,” she said.

Small businesses are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of addressing climate reality from a social, environmental and economic perspective. As energy and fuel prices increase drastically, there is now an urgency to take action to combat this.

McFarlane added: “By being part of MentorsWork, small businesses will be guided, particularly by the one-to-one mentoring aspect of the programme, to look at all the areas where they can take climate action and make an impact that benefits their employees and their community, but also the bottom line.”

Scaling for success

Increasing the awareness of taking a practical approach to climate reality amongst small business will be key to scaling the process.

“The capacity for MentorsWork to deliver online training via masterclasses, focussed workshops, one-to-one mentoring and multiple licences to a curated learning platform means that this programme delivers targeted content and can scale right around the country. Companies who take climate action through the programme will then become ambassadors and can share their learnings with others,” McFarlane commented.

For more information on MentorsWork, visit

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