The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – otherwise referred to as the UN’s SDGs – is a universal framework consisting of 17 global goals. These range from eradicating hunger to boosting industry innovation. While varied in scope, all the SDGs strive to end poverty and protect the planet by 2030. There’s a good chance you might have come across them and have a passing familiarity.
For many businesses, the SDGs are the perfect way to take social value to the next level. They make it simple to shape your efforts and report on progress. It’s why the framework was created in the first place. To be an accessible blueprint for a more sustainable, prosperous future.
So whether your organisation is early on in your social value journey, or you’re looking for some extra inspiration, let’s look at the benefits of integrating the SDGs into your social value strategy.
Social value, simplified
No matter what your organisation is thinking when it comes to its social value strategy, it never hurts to take things back to basics.
The SDGs are designed to be simple. They address core global issues in a direct, clear way. This makes them refreshingly accessible for any organisation – no matter their size or social value maturity. Because they’re so simple, they allow you to first establish a strong foundation and understanding of social value. And, as the goals combat such a wide array of problems and inequalities, embracing them can look differently to each organisation. They’re flexible and easy for any business to integrate into daily operations.
Getting started can be as easy as browsing the list of goals and picking one (or a few) that resonate with your organisation. Let’s say you’re an education provider. #4 quality education might strike a chord. In response, you could support a local education programme for vulnerable children, or develop an internship programme to upskill and recruit local residents.
💡 Top tip: As well as choosing goals that align with your organisation’s values, encourage staff engagement by asking what matters most to them. Rather than simply telling your staff which goals you’re striving towards, open a discussion and discover what lights a fire in your people.
Align with global goals
The UN’s SDGs give your organisation confidence that your individual progress is contributing to global development.
Social value isn’t an individual race; it’s a shared journey. It’s about global progress on a variety of social and environmental issues. The SDGs help keep this global picture at the forefront of your efforts.
By tapping into global priorities, you also benefit from all the hard work that’s already been done. The UN and government bodies have a lot of manpower and resources that your organisation won’t. And you can (metaphorically) profit by embracing all their learning and guidance. By drawing from predefined guidance and global experiences, you ensure the greatest use of time and resources. You’re able to achieve greater SROI and more impactful outcomes.
A sturdy backbone to your efforts
Because they keep global priorities front and centre, the SDGs are a stable backbone for your social value strategy. You always know you’re moving in the right direction. With global priorities and government legislation, not against them.
Especially important for an organisation that’s lacking direction or is unsure where to go next, the SDGs help align your business’s core strengths with opportunities for tangible social and environmental progress. Following them will create additional value for society, while also helping you become a stronger business.
Adopt an outcome-focused approach
Social value can sometimes feel like you’re throwing things at the wall and seeing what sticks. But it doesn’t have to be that way. The SDGs encourage you to think of your desired outcomes first, and your route to get there second.
By working backwards from the end result, you identify solutions that address the root causes of problems. Rather than making small changes that do a lot of good, but never compound into anything bigger, you can be more intentional in your approach.
💡 Top tip: Zeroing in on a few outcomes is always better than juggling initiatives across multiple. Pick the outcomes that mean the most to your organisation and work backwards to identify manageable steps to attack the root cause. From here, you can take a multi-pronged, long-term approach that makes a real difference.
Combine efforts to achieve more
While a lot of the SDGs feel like large, grand plans – many of them interconnect. For example, building a local park hits #3 good health and wellbeing, #11 sustainable cities and communities, #13 climate action, and #15 life on land.
Approaching social value in this interconnected way makes it far more manageable. It encourages smarter use of time and resources and encourages you to draw from your business’s existing strengths. Social value becomes a lot more empowering when you uncover initiatives that allow you to hit global multiple targets in one go.
For any business that wants to align their social value strategy with global progress, the UN’s SDGs are a valuable tool. They provide the support needed to keep you on track, while also being refreshingly flexible. The global goals leave plenty of room for individual interpretation and your staff’s own creativity and passion to shine through.
Ready to get started?
Impact quantifies your social and environmental impact like never before. Visualise the outcomes of all your initiatives on one easy-to-access platform. Our real-time dashboards help you effortlessly draw a line between your team’s efforts and your chosen SDGs. To find out more, schedule a demo or get in touch with the team on 0161 532 4752.