Our planet deserves a better future, and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) or “Global Goals” are carefully designed to give all people opportunities to start building that future today.
With hundreds of indicators geared towards 2030, the international community established this new roadmap at the end of September 2015. The United Nations member countries designed these goals to cover social, environmental, and economic aspects with a business mindset.
These goals provide a path for any business to direct its efforts toward specific global objectives.
Companies can contribute to the SDGs from three different perspectives, with different returns.
First, there is the development of philanthropic actions not related to the company’s activities. It seeks to improve the social and environmental conditions of the company’s environments, and it primarily has a reputational benefit.
On the other hand, it is possible to implement initiatives related to the organization’s operations to reduce and eliminate negative impacts and enhance positive ones for stakeholders. In this case, the returns for the company are diverse as they include operational efficiency, cost reduction, customer loyalty, among others.
The third approach is to develop innovative products and services within the company’s activity sector. This contributes to the goals established for the SDGs while generating new business opportunities.
The second and third approaches were proposed around operational impacts and are the subjects of the SDG Compass protocol. What does that mean exactly?
SDG Compass: A Guide for Businesses
To help companies contribute to the SDGs, the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), The United Nations Global Compact (Global Compact), and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) created the SDG Compass. It is an action protocol structured in five stages that seek to facilitate companies’ understanding of how they can contribute to the SDGs, encourage their public commitments, and communicate their progress.
The SDG Compass starts from a first stage that suggests promoting knowledge about the SDGs and the benefits that the company gets by supporting these goals.
Once the possibility of contributing to the SDGs is on the table, the next step is to design an strategy. To this end, the second stage begins with identifying the impacts that the company could generate with these iniciatives.
The third stage focuses on the action by establishing objectives, work programs, and activities that allow the company to put the goals into practice within the established time frame.
The fourth stage is how to implement the action plan. It suggests assigning responsibilities throughout the company so that all employees participate. Likewise, it recommends associating the indicators established for the SDGs with the performance metrics of the operations. In addition, to evaluate the progress of the action plan, it proposes to create a monitoring body.
Once the action plan is already for execution, it is possible to approach the fifth stage. At this moment, the company publicly reports its performance and the progress achieved, using a language that the authorities and civil society can understand:
- Why SDGs are relevant and the associated impacts generated by the company.
- The objectives and actions designed to contribute to their achievement.
- The management and monitoring systems established to evaluate the progress that the company has achieved.
Advantages of contributing to the SDGs.
Making sure that our society achieves these 17 Sustainable Development Goals has many benefits, such as:
- Identify business opportunities and attract capital.
- Enhance the value of corporate sustainability, including attracting talent and customer preference.
- Strengthen relationships with stakeholders, be aligned with legislative advances, and strengthen risk prevention.
- Stabilize societies and markets by contributing to their development and access to products and services.
Ideas for businesses to support SDG
Here are 4 ways businesses can support SDG through empowering and inspiring activities. This could be a part of the businesses’ practices or projects.
1. PROVIDE AND MAINTAIN A HEALTHY WORKPLACE
It is essential to ensure that people collaborate in a secure and healthy workplace. If you think about it, most people spend about one-third of their adult lives in a workplace environment.
Consequently, businesses are key drivers for SDG 3 and SDG 8 – “Good Health and Well-being” and “Decent Work and Economic Growth.” Emphasize safe habits at work through frequent training and refreshers, and implement health and fitness programs for your team.
2. REWARD AND INCENTIVIZE RESPONSIBLE BEHAVIORS
Such as “Employee of the Month,” usually reserved for employees with the best productivity, businesses can also reward workers for incentivizing better environmental practices.
In this case, you’d be supporting SDG 12 – “Responsible Consumption and Production.” Consider offering bonuses or awards for the most environmentally conscious team members – especially those who put your business closer to those responsible practices.
3. PROMOTE DIVERSITY IN THE WORKPLACE
Diversity strengthens human relationships and encourages creativity in the workplace.
Organizations are ecosystems that thrive on variety. Diversity at work includes people from different cultures, genders, races, and opinions that add different perspectives to the work dynamics.
With these actions, businesses would support SDGs 5 and 10 – “Gender equality” and “Reduced inequalities.” In this sense, workspaces are not alien to the changes that are taking place in society. Diversity at work is a way of integrating those sectors of society that do not usually have many job opportunities.
A happier future
The international community is facing an exceptional moment, with a challenging roadmap and objectives established through the collaboration of governments, companies, and civil society. From your company, you can contribute to their achievement and develop new business opportunities that combine social and environmental impact with an economic return.
Businesses, regardless of their size, have the power to forge change and harness innovation, involving their employees, clients, partners, and communities – ensuring that no one is left behind in a safer, happier future.