Using Sustainable Development Goals for Business
Introducing the Goals
If you haven’t heard of the goals per se, let alone, how you can use the Sustainable Development Goals for business, you’re not alone. And yet, the goals are an amazing tool for creating a sense of purpose around all your activities. Everyone can embrace them, both at work and in leisure. In this post, I’ll cover a basic overview of what the goals mean and why they are so wonderfully applicable in the workplace.
What are the Sustainable Development Goals?
The Sustainable Development Goals (or SDGs) – also known as Global Goals – are a framework for protecting the planet, its precious resources and all life within it. That means us, by the way!
In 2015, the United Nations launched the seventeen goals, following on from the incomplete success of the eight Millennium Goals. The comprehensive newer set of goals is a universal call to action, to end poverty, to protect our planet and to ensure every person enjoys peace and prosperity. The aim is to achieve specific targets by 2030 and they cover every aspect of living, whether personal or at work.
You can see the full list of Sustainable Development Goals here.
Examples of Achieving the Goals
The SDGs include, for example, Goal 2 – Zero Hunger.
Being hungry isn’t just an issue for third world countries but is actually, much closer than you might think. Isn’t it shocking that even in a prosperous country like the UK, there are food banks for people who need help feeding the family. Projects like Fuel for Schools address the challenge of ensuring Goal 2 – Zero Hunger is reached.
Then there’s Goal 5 – Gender Equality.
The pay gap between men and women doing equal roles still persists in the UK and has been widely reported in the press, with some male BBC Presenters taking a pay cut to reduce the chasm.
Both of these illustrations demonstrate the local aspect of the global goals. In fact, every positive action we take can be associated with at least one of the goals. By choosing the two or three goals which have the most meaning to us, we can focus on making significant changes in those areas. This prevents being overwhelmed by the enormity of the issues around us. In other words, they help us chunk down the problems so that we can feel good about ‘doing our bit.’
Have a little ‘Google’ of the SDGs to get more of a feel for how ubiquitous the goals are.
What Relevance have the Sustainable Development Goals for Business?
Using the SDGs adds value to an organisation in ways you will not even imagine if you’re just starting out. Building a workplace Sustainability Programme drives tangible rewards. These may be in the form of direct benefits from reduced energy consumption. Indirectly, by developing an engaged the workforce, you may see results in less staff turnover and consequently recruitment costs.
By linking the Sustainable Development Goals for business purposes to your Sustainability Programme, you can;
- Align your organisation’s shared values to the goals and choose the best two or three around which to focus engagement.
- Prioritise attention to goal related activities, which counteracts becoming overwhelmed by too many possibilities for sustainability projects
- Report and celebrate achievements within a globally recognised format
- Inspire people in your business by nurturing a shared sense of purpose.
The Great Thing is Scalability – Small or Large
whatever the size of your organisation, the goals can be applied equally, whether you’re part of a global conglomerate or a sole trader. Clive Wilson explains this beautifully using the natural phenomenon of fractals in his new book Designing the Purposeful World, which I was recently asked to review prior to its publication (…scroll down the link to read my review).
PwC has recently brought out a report verifying the importance of mapping your businesses route with the SDGs and explaining the implications of each one. The key takeaway from this report is the universal significance of the process, regardless of how many people you employ.
You have a choice – we all have a choice. You can choose to embed sustainability throughout your business, be innovative and become part of a sustainable future. Or you can get left behind. One thing is certain and that is the trend towards environmental wakefulness is only going one way.
Find out more about making the Sustainable Development Goals an integral part of your company’s employee engagement plan and future resilience. Give me a call or email and let’s have an informal chat about how to go about it.
Download my Seven Simple Steps to a Sustainability Culture to learn how to get started.