This handbook is about social responsibility (SR) of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). What can you do as an entrepreneur to do business in a sustainable way? Is it feasible or only possible for large corporations?

Company type: Steel drilling and sawing

Sneek, Netherlands

Short description of the company size and business

Douma Steel is a business concern dealing in steel, pipes, bright steel, stainless steel, and pipe components. It has access to a computer controlled drilling and sawing installation. From its Sneek office, it delivers to machine factories, steel builders, yacht wharves and building corporations. The family business employs 46 people.

Explanation by the CEO 'why social responsibility and the use of ISO 26000 is important

It isn’t just about energy, but also about how you treat your employees. For example, we work with a physiotherapist that supports our employees in finding a proper working posture and recognises complaints early on. It’s also about having a foundation in the organisation. Thinking about SR should be a high priority for our employees. In addition, I find sustainable cooperation with other businesses very important. I share my experiences within the entrepreneurs’ society and the sector. You need to be prepared to learn from others and be open for new ideas.

Benefits of operating social responsible

We were well on our way with sustainability, when we got the chance to participate in the Frontrunner project. Yet we benefited a lot from it. We used the ISO 26000 (DuOn) Scan as a baseline measurement. This broadened our insight and resulted in more awareness. The results are very recognisable and give us the confidence that we’re moving in the right direction. It also shows gaps, such as attention to working conditions at our suppliers. I must admit, it included a number of difficult questions that we couldn’t immediately answer. It really shows how broad SR actually is.
Continuous learning process
Because of the Frontrunner project, we’ve taken up various new things. For example, we’d like to realise the expansion of our office energy neutrally. Another frontrunner, Holiday Ice, taught us to shut off the air ducts at night. We also turn off the machinery over the weekend and we discuss things like frugal and efficient driving with our transporter. We provide information about this to our drivers in 10 languages. Ultimately, we aim to be energy neutral when it comes to our buildings. However, that’s extremely difficult to realise for trucks for now, but we continue to actively follow developments.
Awareness of employees and staff
We often communicate with our employees about it. Every week some employee will come forward with a clever little idea. They were more aware than I thought. For example, they pay attention to garbage division and saving paper. All departments received the sustainability profile (ISO 26000 DuOn Scan) and they were widely discussed. It’s a permanent point of discussion in staff meetings.
Not about fashion
Externally we’re going to communicate more as well, among others via our website. So far we’ve been very modest with this. Then again I don’t think you should shout too loudly. It feels good when it’s natural behaviour. If you do it because it’s fashionable, you’re doing it wrong. We’re not creating a sustainability report. It’s not a point of contention in the sector yet.

Quote of CEO

‘Sustainability is a never ending process. It should also be supported by everyone in the organisation’ - Geert Jan Douma, Director

Quote of stakeholder


Tips in general

- Don’t be led by subsidies but take responsibility for future generations, so that future entrepreneurs can continue to be active as well. It should flow from your heart, your own responsibility. It shouldn’t just be about the Profit. Especially SMEs and representatives of family businesses are very involved in their company and therefore their surroundings. That makes them really receptive to sustainability.
- Start today rather than tomorrow. You’ll see for yourself how fun and challenging it is to work with it. It isn’t a tedious topic. Think practically: What can you do with it? As humans we should take responsibility together.

Tips for branche / sector

- You can achieve a lot with simple measures, such as turning off machines and air ducts. Also ensure to make truck drivers aware of their driving behaviour.
- In addition, look at more complex topics such as the origin of raw materials (steel), working conditions in the chain and energy neutrality. Make sound choices, especially in new construction.
- Be constantly alert of the health and safety of your workers. It is heavy work. For example, employ a physiotherapist. Preventing is better and cheaper than curing.
- Check if it’s possible to employ people with disabilities or employability problems. Our experiences with this are very positive.

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