Most companies have CSR-strategies in place. Yet many have not considered if and how their initiatives and strategies are linked to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s).

In order to be able to prioritise and really ensure your business is focusing on the relevant/most pressing issues, you must begin by scrutinising your CSR-goals. Not only to identify which goals actually apply, but also which ones you can improve.

The goals aim to end poverty, fight inequality and injustice and tackle climate change by 2030. They provide a shared vision and goals for governments, the private sector and civil society for a more sustainable world.

Become an even better Employer

If you have a production site in a developing country (- or in a developed country for that matter) you probably have a minimum salary policy in place. But what stops you from actually becoming a role model as well as an attractive employer. In fact, ensuring that the salaries you offer go beyond compliance are closely linked to Goal 1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere.

Establish local Partnerships The food and agriculture sector both hold the key solutions for development and are consequently vital factors in the global efforts to eradicate hunger and poverty. Yet, there are an estimated 500 million small farms worldwide, most of which are still rainfed, which provide up to 80% of the food consumed in large parts of the developing world.

These small farms play a crucial role in increasing food security and nutrition for the poorest local markets. If your company is sourcing for production in a certain area, why not establish local partnerships to support the local farmers. By doing so, you would actively contribute to Goal 2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.

Reduce, Re-use and Recycle

For those companies that have large production sites you probably already have explored the possibilities of clean energy solutions. Moreover, you have probably discussed how to become Co2 neutral in production. But did you know that one-fifth of the world’s final energy consumption in 2013 was from renewables? Why not take it one step further and actively support innovative solutions by installing solar panels on your factory roof. They are cheap and will save you money, all while contributing to support the development of renewable energy solutions.

Oh, and don’t forget to ensure that the water you use is the minimum required - and always think in terms of; reduce, re-use and recycle. Did you know that?

  • Less than 3 per cent of the world’s water is fresh (drinkable), of which 2.5 per cent is frozen in the Antarctica, Arctic and glaciers. Humanity must therefore rely on 0.5 percent for all of man’s ecosystem’s and fresh water needs.

  • Man is polluting water faster than nature can recycle and purify water in rivers and lakes.

  • More than 1 billion people still do not have access to fresh water.

  • Excessive use of water contributes to the global water stress.

By looking into these issues you are also making a contribution to Goal 7: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all and Goal 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.

Volunteering has tremendous potential to do good

Even if you do not have large production facilities or large workforces, you can still help the new generation to have the possibility to attend school. Obtaining a quality education is the very foundation to improving people’s lives - and for a sustainable development.

By supporting schools and sending your staff as volunteers instead of the old, predictable kick-offs, you are not only promoting Goal 4: Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning. As an added bonus you are also building internal pride and engagement.

Did you know that 78% of the workforce is seeking a career that actually does good in the world? Consequently volunteer work is an enormous renewable resource for social, economic, and environmental problem-solving - throughout the world.

So, speak to your CSR-manager to discuss how to make sure your vision is aligned with the UN’s goals. They can be found in their totality here. If you want to support them privately, there are, moreover, many other ways you can help.

  • Elin Wibell

Before you start

Analyze the strengths of your organization. What is your core business? How do your production processes affect your immediate environment? What is true to your brand, product or service and how does it reflect in your mission statement?

It is often best to engage with a program that is related to your industry. This not only enables you to bring your expertise into the project, but it also ensures that your CSR efforts are aligned with the areas you impact. This, in turn, makes it easier for you to communicate externally and engage employees internally. However, sometimes this is difficult and at those times it’s better to find a suitable partner.

Ensure you do something realistic, that has a tangible impact and that you can commit to on a long-term basis. If you are a small business it might be better to partner with an established organization. Many small NGO’s and charity organizations are dependent on investments and are rather flexible so as to ensure the program fits your needs. An already established partner also has the expertise of their program, allowing you to use their impact measures to rest assured that the program has been evaluated and makes an impact.

If you prefer to do your own initiative, you have the possibility to involve other functions of your organization and your consumers. You also have a chance to ensure that the program is aligned with your core values and communication.

Engage your employees – start from within. The program needs to be relevant and have a strong impact, but it should also engage your colleagues. Let them be a part of the program, whether by following the process through internal communication or by actually participating. A community day based on the program or by teaching children in the school you are supporting creates great ambassadors. Moreover, it builds pride and ensures that your CSR-program reflects your corporate culture and remains present within the whole organization.

Don't forget

Before you start a CSR-program, do ensure that you are happy with the way things are today. Make an audit of the current situation. Look into every aspect of your organization – Co2 emissions, paper recycling, HR benefits for employees, codes around ethics. Follow the international guidelines on which variables to measure (GRI). Even as a small business it’s good to create a framework – what is CSR to our particular company, what does it mean for our business and what shall we measure? You can also connect your vision to the UN sustainable development goals (SDG’s) to ensure you are working in the right direction.

Make sure your program is actually helping the local people. Many programs are not entirely thought through (hence the potential benefit of working with established partner). What really might help a community might for instance be micro financing (if done in the proper way) or by creating the infrastructure, technical possibilities and education necessary to prosper by themselves.

If you have a partner organization, make sure to question and visit their programs to ensure you feel comfortable with the set-up, the KPI’s and the organizational structure.

After the program is launched

Make sure that CSR is an integrated part of your business model. Create possibilities for your CSR initiatives to reflect within the whole organization. And, as we noted above, make sure you have internal ambassadors. Ensure that your goals for the future are set and that you have clear KPI’s that will allow you to track improvements over time

Engage consumers through campaigns based on your core mission, in communication and, if possible, as part of your offering (every time you buy one product 10% supports our partner…)

Engage your local community and tell the stories of your efforts. If CSR becomes an integrated part of your business, it will stay there – external communication creates pride and determination within.

Make sure to evaluate and build the program on a regular basis.

Have fun – it will reflect on your program and don’t forget your heart and the KPI's!

  • Elin Wibell

Another book which emphasizes the need for advertising to change. If all marketers could use their often rather large budgets on doing good - they would not only do the best marketing there is but also contribute to society at large. I truly enjoy this wave of new thinking coming from the marketing side.

“We are at a crossroads: either we can try to prop up the old, broken marketing model, or we can create a new model, one that is fit for the unique challenges of today.”

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Check also out the great corporate examples in "Goodvertising", which you can order at Amazon

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