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Business resilience, pride and the SDGs


Tuesday 7 February 2023

Business resilience, pride and the SDGs
I’ve written previous blog posts about the importance of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and why businesses must join governments and civic society in working together to tackle the biggest issues facing our world today. 
That’s not what this post is. Not because I don’t see the necessity for a post like that. At the halfway point to achieving the 17 global goals for sustainable development by 2030, we’re far from being on track and that need for widespread ownership and collaboration is greater than ever. No, this post is about how useful the SDGs can be for a business and why, no matter what your sector, size or location, you should get to know them if you have any interest in running a resilient business you can be proud of. 

An opportunity not to be missed. 
Many companies think of the SDGs as something only relevant to governments and maybe multinational corporations. Thinking that way can put you in danger of missing a real opportunity. Whatever way you look at it, sustainability is no longer a ‘nice to have’ in any business, but an absolute necessity for success and indeed survival. If you want to be a resilient business that can weather the many storms ahead in this VUCA world, you and sustainability need to become comfortable bedfellows. 
What can really help when it comes to managing sustainability within your business is a framework or roadmap that supports your wider business strategy. Often, it’s the idea of having to create that framework that leads to companies ‘putting off’ dealing with sustainability. Or if they are dealing with it, it’s in unconnected pockets across different teams and departments with no overarching framework that everyone can get behind. 
A simple framework for action. 
The beauty of the SDGs is that a lot of the work in identifying important sustainability issues has already been done for you. All you have to do is consider which ones you can contribute to that will benefit your business, and how best to do that. Those SDGs on which you can make the biggest difference provide a framework to work within in addressing sustainability and making your company more resilient. 
There’s no expectation that a business can or should tackle all 17 goals and indeed I often advise organisations to prioritise a smaller number (up to five or six) that they can really get behind and focus on. 
The goals are high level and at first glance might seem too broad and ‘global’ for you to make much of a difference, but drill in to the 169 targets that lie behind them and it all starts to become a little clearer. Read on for details of a brilliant tool that can make that task easier too! 
How might you actually use the SDGs? 
I’ve picked out three of the 17 SDGs here to show examples of how a business might address them in its sustainability efforts. I suspect that many of these suggestions may be things that your business is already doing. Which brings me to the important point that the SDGs aren’t something else to add on top of your current efforts, but more of a roadmap to guide and help you communicate your efforts. 
Goal 8 – Decent Work and Economic Growth. Target 8.6 is ‘Promote youth employment, education & training’. Simple actions here would be to invest in apprenticeships, offer placement opportunities to students or engage with a local college to inspire young people about working in your sector or with your company. 
Goal 10: Reduce Inequalities. Target 10.1 is ‘Reduce income inequalities’. Signing up to be a Real Living Wage employer would be the obvious action here, but being transparent around any gender pay gap in your company and taking steps to eradicate it is another valuable step towards this Goal. 
Goal 12: Responsible Consumption & Production. Target 12.2 is ‘Sustainable management and use of natural resources’ – a key one for any company in the food and drink, built environment or fashion sectors for example. Gaining full transparency of your supply chain and the sourcing of raw materials is a key action here, as is addressing waste and considering circular economy solutions within your business. 
That ‘brilliant tool’ I mentioned earlier is worth further investigation at the start of your exploration of the SDGs. Created by Accelerating Action, it allows you to set up a profile for a project, campaign, strategy, product or company and ‘tag’ topics relevant to it, resulting in a simple but clear action plan for how to align with the SDGs and use this as a framework for sustainable growth. It saves you having to go through and consider all 169 targets and can be completed in around 30 mins or so. You can sign up for a free 30 day trial to check it out and get both visual and structured feedback on what you can do to build a resilient company and grow sustainably.  
A common language.
It’s finally worth mentioning that another benefit of aligning your sustainability efforts to the SDGs is that, as a global framework, it uses a common language that is widely recognised, which helps when communicating your intentions. It brings clarity to stakeholders, which is a vital commodity in these days when greenwashing is such a sensitive subject. 
Resilience and sustainability are two vital considerations for any successful business and tools to help along the way can be invaluable. I for one wish more business leaders could see the potential the SDGs offer when it comes to building a resilient business that they, and their employees can be proud of.  
Please reach out for a chat if you want to know more about anything in this article or the services that GIRAFFE Associates can offer your business. 


Tuesday 7 February 2023

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