The United Nations General Assembly adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as targets for nations and societies to achieve by 2030. These goals are crucial for the global community in addressing the most pressing challenges of our times. While national governments and civil society organisations have been working towards the goals, greater involvement of businesses and private sector companies is the need of the hour.
Companies can make a huge difference by engaging with the SDGs and incorporating some of the targets into their business strategies. In two of our previous articles, we have explained the relevance of SDGs for companies and shown which SDG is relevant to which company. In this article, we are listing different measures for each of the 17 SDGs that companies can implement, starting from today!
17 Ideas for Companies to help achieve SDGs
- Goal 1 No poverty: Install a Donation box in the common spaces in your office. Call it the 'Box of Happiness' and start an office ritual of donating 1 euro whenever someone feels happy or grateful. At the end of the year, donate the money collected to NGOs working for poverty eradication. Make sure to let your employees know that their happiness is contagious, as their contributions will make many other poor people happy!
- Goal 2 No hunger: Hosting the annual company retreat or a big conference with guests? There is bound to be extra food at the end of the day. In more than 240 cities across Germany, Foodsharing.de has been working to connect people who have extra food to give away with those in need of the free food. Make your company's event more purposeful by sharing leftover food instead of wasting it.
- SDG 3 Good health and well-being: Good health and well-being begins at home, or in this case, in the office. One of the ways to ensure good mental health of employees could be to introduce complimentary counselling services. Other ideas like organising yoga classes or health awareness workshops can be popular among employees and helpful for dealing with work related stress.
- SDG 4 Quality education: According to Humanium.org, more than 72 million children are out of school. Companies can help in this by gifting an hour of their employees' work time to take online classes for deprived children in different countries. Many international NGOs offer the chance to teach basic courses like English, Math or Science, and this can be an interesting way for many people to share their knowledge.
- SDG 5 Gender equality: Companies can ensure gender equality at workplace by: a) Paying same salary to for the same position, with the same qualifications and experience; b) Having an anti-discrimination council with both male and female representation; c) Promoting a culture of mutual respect and zero tolerance for all forms of workplace harassment.
- SDG 6 Clean water and sanitation: To ensure good quality sanitation, make sure that the toilets in your company are inclusive in their designs, such that it is accessible to different groups like the elderly, transgenders or persons with disabilities. Also, the number of toilets should be proportional to the number of workers. Check this list from the UK Health and Safety Executive to get an understanding of appropriate toilet to employee ratio.
- SDG 7 Affordable and clean energy: Old appliances and heaters in offices can consume a lot of energy. Retrofitting such equipment to energy saving devices can be a long term investment. Switching to a green energy provider is also a very good idea for the long run.
- SDG 8 Decent work and economic growth: Companies can be proactive in employing people from diverse backgrounds, and provide decent work conditions: a) Young workers can be provided with career counselling to help them identify their aptitudes, b) Parents and caregivers can be provided flexible work hours and possibility to work from home as and when needed.
- SDG 9 Industry, innovation and infrastructure: Buying or renting a new office space? Renovating the old conference rooms? Invest in eco-friendly non-toxic paint options or install water saving faucets in the toilets. If it is a bigger company, installing a solar panel or rain water harvesting system on the office terrace can help in furthering SDG9.
- SDG 10 Reduced inequality: No matter what sector your company works in, being aware of the supply chains is important. Research where the raw materials are coming from and the conditions under which things are being produced. Find out whether the workers at the end of the supply chain are being paid adequately. Promote minimum wages and safe working conditions for all, from the lowest to the highest level of employees.
- SDG 11 Sustainable cities and communities: A sustainable city or community is created through sustainable investments. As a company, tie up with a fair-finance bank that invests in sustainable projects. This way, the company's capital can be use for green projects. Read our article here on how 5 German banks are funding projects to make cities and communities sustainable.
- SDG 12 Responsible consumption and production: Depending on the type of your company, contracting local companies for office supplies for a long term period can result in cost efficiency and contribute to the local economy. Encouraging office lunches from local shops, and supporting organic and ecological products, for Christmas gifts or office bonuses, can help building sustainable habits among workers.
- SDG 13 Climate action: With the experience of work-from-home that most of us have by now, minimising all sorts of travel unless crucial should become a business mantra for all companies. However, when business trips are absolutely necessary, purchasing travel options that offsets carbon emissions and reduces footprints can help companies to do their part for climate action.
- SDG 14 Life under water: Install drinking water taps at the workplace and provide reusable glass bottles to discourage people from buying bottled water. Plastic bottles are one of the biggest source of plastic pollution in our oceans and harms aquatic creatures. Also, for all kinds of company events, refrain from using plastic cutlery to decrease your net yearly waste.
- SDG 15 Life on land: Companies who have some space can create a small kitchen garden, or get flowering plants to put on the terraces in offices. This can immensely help in attracting bees, which are vital to our ecosystems.
- SDG 16: Peace, justice and stronger institutions: Every company should invest in forming a grievance redressal team that is responsible for providing fair and impartial support for all sorts of workers' complaints. Additionally, the team could also share resources on workers rights and fair working conditions with all its employees.
- SDG 17 Partnerships to achieve the goals: Companies can find enterprises working in the same sector, and create online campaigns and workshops about a particular SDG. For example, we at the seventeen goals Magazin have started partnering with different companies and organisations , for each of the 17 SDGs, to help spread the news on what us and our partners are doing to achieve the SDGs.
All of these 17 ideas are actually doable, and will help in improving the brand value of companies. It can also improve the scope of getting funding from various international donors. If companies, as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), begin to engage with some of these goals and take some of the suggested actions, it can do wonders in achieving the SDGs. So let's remain hopeful, and spread these ideas far and wide!
Header Picture: Husna Miskandar, Unsplash