Apr 21

Incorporating SDGs in Corporate Governance: Strategies for Aligning International Goals with Business Practices

**Considering SDGs in Corporate Governance: How to Align International Goals with Business Practices**

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) outlined by the United Nations not only address global issues but offer direct benefits to businesses that decide to align their corporate strategy with them. When integrated into corporate governance, SDGs can help demonstrate a firm’s commitment to sustainable development, corporate responsibility, and ethical business practices.

**Understanding the Importance of SDGs in Corporate Governance**

The 17 SDGs and their associated 169 targets provide a roadmap to tackle issues such as poverty, inequality, environmental degradation, and climate change by 2030. Embracing these goals as part of a business’s strategy yields both tangible and intangible benefits. Not only do SDGs align companies with societal needs and global priorities, but they offer advantages including stronger branding, improved employee morale, opportunities for innovation, increased investor confidence, and regulatory compliance.

According to the Business and Sustainable Development Commission, pursuing SDGs could unlock economic opportunities worth up to $12 trillion a year by 2030, creating around 380 million jobs in the process. These figures underline the potential financial returns of SDG alignment.

**Incorporating SDGs Into Corporate Governance**

1. **Understand Your Company’s Impact and Relevance**: Each organization must initially identify which of the 17 SDGs are most relevant and have the greatest impact on its operations and vice versa. This assessment facilitates focusing on those SDGs where the business can genuinely contribute and create change.

2. **Develop Clear SDGs Strategy and Goals**: After identifying the relevant SDGs, the next step is to create a detailed plan. It should showcase how the business intends to contribute towards these goals, the metrics by which progress will be gauged, and the timeline for achieving them.

3. **Wrap SDGs Around the Core Business Strategy**: The strategy should be structured so the SDGs endorsement becomes part of the business’s core strategy and not just a peripheral activity. This integration requires top management’s commitment and leadership.

4. **Engage Stakeholders**: The business should regularly engage its stakeholders – employees, investors, consumers, and the community – about its SDGs strategy. This communication helps in building trust and enhancing reputation while encouraging other parties to adopt SDGs.

5. **Regular Monitoring & Transparent Reporting**: Finally, businesses must invest in effective monitoring mechanisms to track progress, learn from failures, and continuously improve. Implementing transparent reporting – such as sustainability or annual reports – showcases the company’s achievements and challenges regarding SDGs.

**Case Study: Unilever**

Unilever stands as a prime example of effective SDG integration within corporate governance. Unilever has identified 14 out of 17 SDGs upon which it can have the most significant impact. These have been fully integrated into their Sustainable Living Plan, which sets out ambitious targets to be reached by 2020. By 2018, Unilever reported that its ‘sustainable living’ brands were growing 69% faster than their other brands and delivering 75% of the company’s growth.

**Key Takeaways**

1. Incorporating SDGs as a part of corporate governance acknowledges corporate responsibility towards global issues and ethical business practices.

2. Businesses can obtain substantial benefits from SDG alignment, including improved branding, employee satisfaction, innovation opportunities, increased investor attraction, and regulatory compliance.

3. Creating an SDGs strategy, incorporating these into core business strategy, involving stakeholders, monitoring progress, and reporting respectfully can be effective methods of SDG incorporation.

4. Utilizing SDGs in corporate governance can show commitment to long-term sustainability and societal responsibility, fostering a stronger and more resilient business model.

Integrating SDGs into corporate governance is becoming essential for businesses that wish to thrive in the 21st century. Businesses are expected to play a pivotal role in achieving the SDGs by 2030, and starting the transformation now will position these businesses as leaders in their respective sectors.

Explore further on our website to find more resources and courses concerning SDGs integration and other sustainability topics. Also, discover our consulting services to guide your organization towards a sustainable future. Actively shape your business to address global challenges while unlocking significant financial benefits.