The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) released the THESIS Industry Insights: Performance by Company Size report using data from TSC’s The Sustainability Insight System (THESIS). This report is the fourth report in an ongoing series aimed at using THESIS’ data set to raise awareness of key challenges and opportunities in creating more sustainable products. 

THESIS data from 2020 shows that company size is not a determining factor in improving the sustainability and transparency of consumer goods supply chains. Using THESIS data, TSC tested the hypothesis on company size ranging from less than $1 million in annual revenue to companies that bring in greater than $1 billion in annual revenue. The data shows that even though company sizes can range between the two spectrums, there is no practical difference in their THESIS sustainability performance, which helps assess and communicate a brands’ and manufacturers’ progress on supply chain sustainability. 

Small-to-medium enterprises (SME) face different barriers to success than their larger counterparts. TSC’s report found that SME’s tended to have advantages that include the higher influence of personal values of their CEOs and are able to pay more attention to non-economic sustainability drivers. SME barriers include lack of time, resources and knowledge while also having a hard time making the case for sustainability. Larger companies were more likely to engage in formal document practices, were better able to communicate with stakeholders and were more likely to be able to attend to material relevant issues.

Jessica Ginger, TSC senior director, THESIS Impact, says, "Through our THESIS data, we are pleased to see that small-to-medium enterprises are making the same, if not better, improvements than large companies. We now know that dedicating at least one person to integrating sustainability practices into the business, no matter the size, significant improvements in supply chain sustainability is feasible.”  

Most notably, TSC found that dedicated sustainability staff are critically important to driving significant changes. Around 25% of companies that had no sustainability staff reported they had made changes in sustainable product or packaging design, while more than 40% companies with sustainability staff reported they had done the same.