What one focuses on grows, which is why one of the important topics in the business world today is the idea of sustainability. Corporations and social enterprise that range from Nike to Ikea to Toms Shoes are looking at environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors as they make decisions about their own business practices, as well as their impact on their communities and the environment. Being sustainable means that the company is focusing on the long-term ramifications of their actions, and not just the immediate rewards and consequences.
Though the movement towards sustainable business practices has been developing for over a decade, it was accelerated in 2015 when the United Nations unveiled the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This ambitious initiative brings together governments, private companies, and nonprofits as it aims to address worldwide challenges such as poverty, gender inequality, and environmental concerns. Though ideally the resulting positive changes will last far into the future, the agenda sets a target date of 2030 for making progress towards improving lives across the globe.
The UN agenda includes seventeen specific Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that can be found within five areas of critical importance; people, planet, prosperity, peace, and partnership. Each SDG is also broken down into target goals, which allow corporations to select the specific goals that best fit with their company mission.
Participation in the agenda is voluntary, particularly in the private sector, but the SDG structure has facilitated the move towards sustainable decision making by providing a common framework for choosing goals and measuring progress. Companies can use the SDGs to coordinate with nonprofits and government organizations as they work towards common goals.
The common language of the Sustainable Development Goals also allows for companies to clearly communicate their sustainability goals. This transparency helps to build relationships with the many individuals and organizations that prefer to do business with corporations who make sustainability a priority. These relationships help make sustainability a good business model in the short term as well as the long.
How do we prove it?
There is a difference between communicating one’s goals and then tracking and reporting success towards the goal. Many organizations working towards SDGs struggle with efficient systems to monitor success. While traditional efforts focus on concrete statistics such as money spent and individuals receiving services, SDG based programs focus on the impact these programs make. It is not enough to know that $10,000 was spent to services to 1,000 people. What is more important is looking at the specific ways that the services had a lasting, positive impact on the individuals’ lives.
Because traditional tracking software focuses on numbers and not impact, reporting this type of information can require a considerable manual effort. Front line workers must find a way to record and communicate critical, and often anecdotal, information back to the decision makers and other stakeholders.
SureImpact provides a flexible and secure system to track not only what you did to try and meet your SDG’s but it gives you the framework and reporting capacities to know exactly how people are better off and provides insights to even improve your efforts for even greater impact and sustainability. Contact us today to learn more.
Also, check out our on-demand webinar “Proving Your Social Return on Investment: How to communicate your unarguable value.” Sheri Chaney Jones, president and founder of SureImpact will be discussing how to use data to prove you are delivering impactful, cost-effective, and sustainable solutions to complex social problems.