Sustainability means different things not just for people but also for businesses. While individual actions are always important, it’s also essential to get the large corporations and organisations involved in environmental protection and the betterment of our society. For the world to succeed, companies must integrate the sustainable development goals (SDGs) into their business strategies. But how can they do it?
The sustainable development goals were announced in 2015 as part of a UN’s resolution. The 17 goals include 169 targets, which should be reached within the next 15 years – these are the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In order to reach these targets, governments around the world need business leaders to be part of the change as well. Many companies have answered the call.
In fact, the private sector is to have an important role in achieving the 17goals. It will act as the core player in helping to innovate, develop and implement ideas and technologies that will move the world closer to reaching these goals.
Of course, certain development goals will play a different role in a company’s strategy. Geographic location, the size of the company and the industry can all impact how to identify the key SDGs. Therefore, it is important to find ways to implement and integrate the goals together with local communities and stakeholders.
So, what are some of the simple ways new companies can integrate SDGs into business strategy? Here are seven simple examples.
1. Pick the goals that matter the most to your organisation
All SDGs are important but a business might not have the capability to implement all of them. A small business operating in the UK might find it difficult to create an impact in goal number six (Clean Water and Sanitation). Instead, its approach to conducting business could have a big impact on goal 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production). Therefore, it’s crucial for businesses to understand they don’t need to integrate all goals into action – especially at once – but they should pick the ones that they can have the most impact on.
2. Improve awareness of the goals
Companies can integrate the goals as part of their business strategy by ensuring awareness of SDGs reaches different stakeholders. It’s a good idea to include educational material of the goals to employees, shareholders and even customers. This will ensure the goals are at the forefront when individuals take action within the organisation.
3. Prioritise employment opportunities
For most companies, the easiest way to tackle some of the goals is through better employment policies. This means becoming an inclusive employer and reaching out to communities that might not generally get the opportunity to participate in the industry – having apprentice opportunities for young people in poor and ethnic minority communities and ensuring the company has a gender balance in terms of employment.
4. Examine supply chains
For a number of companies, the big impact will be on how the company selects and manages its suppliers. Even if the company implements green policies at its office, its suppliers might not share the same values. Therefore, it’s essential for companies to integrate the goals into launching partnerships and engage with suppliers that share the same philosophy.
5. Boost transparency
One simple, yet effective way to incorporate the goals into your company strategy is simply by enhancing your transparency. Include more information about where, when and how you are sourcing your business materials, what your hiring criteria are, and so on. This will force companies to look at these questions but also make it easier for consumers to make informed decisions.
6. Invest in climate mitigation
Climate mitigation is not as costly as many companies assume. Various service providers like Tesco, provide solutions that improve the value of the product in terms of sustainability without it increasing the price for consumers. Another good example is electric and hybrid vehicles. These vehicles were perceived inferior in performance and more expensive than standard vehicles, but this trade-off has never materialised. Consumers are now often opting for these cars because they provide the additional eco-friendly element.
7. Focus on long-term goals
Overall, the SDGs are long-term goals and businesses should view them through this lens. It’s important to look at the benefits of diverting some of the profits to a charity for female empowerment in terms of the long-term impact on the business rather than short-term impact. In the end, as FeikeSijbesma, the CEO of Royal DSM, explained in the Guardian, “Nobody can be successful – or even dare to call themselves successful – in a world that fails”.
According to a research by PwC, 71% of businesses admit to planning how they can engage with SDGs. Companies understand the impact they can have and the value that focusing on these goals can provide to their organisation. Indeed, 90% of people feel it’s important for businesses to participate in the achievement of SDGs. Therefore, for a business, involvement and integration of these goals isn’t just ethically important, it can also make a lot of business sense.
Getting started isn’t impossible. Click here to read our four-step process for getting the SDGs off the ground in your business.
Author: Swapnil Kulkarni from VoucherBin.co.uk