Aligning Your Business With UN Sustainable Development Goals


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Last week, I had the privilege of conducting a workshop for business professionals who are new to the world of sustainability, and Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG). Over the course – it was two and a half hours – we dove into climate change, social impact, baseline and scoring, environmental certifications and the profitability of sustainability. One crucial takeaway that resonated with the participants was aligning their businesses with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). These 17 goals, often referred to as the UN SDGs, represent a utopian vision for a better world, covering diverse aspects such as poverty, climate action, and life below water. In this blog post, we’ll explore the significance of aligning your business with these goals, emphasizing how this simple step can bring purpose and motivation to your organization.

The Power of Visual Alignment

Imagine walking into your next board meeting armed not with just data and reports, but with a visual representation of the 17 UN SDGs. That a great way to get the ball rolling on sustainability at your biz. By bringing in a picture of these goals, you open up a powerful dialogue within your organization. Whether it’s a board meeting, an executive session, or a management gathering, presenting the visual spectrum of UN SDGs can spark meaningful discussions about the core values and purpose of your business.

Encouraging Employee Engagement

To take this alignment a step further, consider involving your employees in the process. Ask them to identify which of the 17 UN SDGs resonate with them personally and how they relate to the company’s mission. This not only fosters a sense of purpose among your team – but it also provides valuable insights into the aspects of sustainability that matter most to your workforce. Aligning your business with the goals that speak to your employees can create a shared sense of purpose and foster a positive company culture.

Exploring Goal Alignment

The 17 UN SDGs cover a broad spectrum of issues, ranging from poverty alleviation to climate action. Take the time to explore each goal individually and consider how they might align with your business. For instance, if your company operates in the recreational boating industry, the goal of “Life Below Water” could be particularly relevant. Some companies align with one or two goals, while others may find resonance with five or more. The key is to choose the goals that not only align with your business activities but also motivate and inspire your staff.

Case Study: SunLife’s Alignment with UN SDGs

To provide a real-life example, let’s look at SunLife, a service-based company in Canada. SunLife has aligned itself with five of the 17 SDGs: gender equity, renewable energy, decent work conditions, climate action, and health and well-being. By visually representing these goals on their website, SunLife communicates its commitment to these larger-than-life objectives. This approach allows them to integrate sustainability into their reports, metrics, and initiatives, creating a cohesive and recognizable narrative for their stakeholders.

Taking the Next Step – ESG Baseline Assessment

Once you’ve explored and aligned with the UN SDGs, the next logical step is to assess your company’s Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) baseline. We have a 2-min pulse checker here! Evaluate your performance in these three critical areas to identify where your business excels and where there may be gaps. This baseline assessment provides a strategic roadmap for enhancing sustainability and ESG practices within your organization.

Incorporating the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals into your business strategy is more than just a checkbox exercise; it’s a powerful way to infuse purpose, motivation, and a shared vision into your organization. By visually aligning with these global objectives, engaging employees, and conducting an ESG baseline assessment, you not only contribute to a better world but also position your business as a responsible and forward-thinking entity. Take the time this month to explore the UN SDGs, involve your team in the alignment process, and set the stage for a sustainable and purpose-driven future for your business.

Curious if ThisRock could help your business meet new ESG demands from customers, bankers and investors? Contact Us.