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NEWS - 13. May 2019 15:40

SEB survey: Does profit outweigh a clean environment?

In the wake of various large projects, the focus placed on environmental issues has been greater than that of previous years, having shaken up politics as well as the business environment. The fresh SEB Baltic Business Outlook (BBO) survey showed that 64% of Estonia’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) consider environmentally sustainable behaviour to be an important part of their activity.

Ainar Leppänen, Head of Retail Banking at SEB, finds that 64% is, in and of itself, not a bad result: ‘A total of two-thirds of undertakings understand that operating in an environmentally sustainable manner is important. However, on the other hand, if we would like to justify our self-perception of Estonians being a people of nature, the percentage could actually be higher’. At the same time, Leppänen emphasised that the BBO survey focused on SMEs, the ecological footprints of which are mostly smaller, and amid fierce competition attention remains focused on the core activity, which is and must remain earning a profit.

‘Substantively, responsible business means that the enterprise does not set the earning of profit as its sole goal – this is the point of business anyway – but also how that profit is earnt, in what way, and where that profit is spent,’ explained Leppänen. According to Leppänen, it is important that Estonian enterprises also try to think more about the impact the enterprise has on its employees, the community, society, nature and business culture. ‘In the case of business culture, it is a great source of concern that responsible business practices are not considered to be as important as they once were. In comparison with previous years, the assessment of SMEs regarding the importance of business culture fell from 4.3 to 3.9 on a 5 point scale,’ stated Leppänen.

On a positive note, the SEB survey did reveal that, similar to previous years, SMEs are trying to invest more and more in their employees through their training, and are doing so independent of the age of their employees. ‘Enterprises themselves consider investing in employees to be important. As a large service enterprise we try to serve as a role model for bigger and smaller enterprises. We currently employ people from four different generations and we are always looking for ways to develop and motivate our employees,’ said Leppänen. Labour-intensive sectors, such as the accommodation and catering sector, health care institutions and industries, are still paying particular attention to the training and development of their employees.

For the sixth consecutive year, SEB Grupp organised a survey in the Baltic republics, with which it mapped the expectations of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) for the 2018 financial year. The new edition of Baltic Business Outlook presents a summary of the project and profiles the views of the 4276 Baltic SMEs that participated in the survey last autumn. A total of 1565 SMEs from Estonia participated in the survey.

Evelin Allas

Communications Manager
Phone +372 665 5649
Mobile +372 511 1718
Address Tornimäe 2, 15010 Tallinn

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