If you haven’t heard of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) here’s a short explainer:
The Sustainable Development Goals are a call to action with three overarching aims: fight for equality and justice, end extreme poverty, and tackle climate change. The UN SDGs are a universal call to action to ensure peace and prosperity for all people by 2030. There are 17 of them, each with a noble goal to be reached. Each goal has specific targets and indicators to measure progress and to guide actions by governments, civil society, the private sector, and individuals. The UN SDGs provide a framework for us all to work together towards a more sustainable future for the planet.
For this post, we’re going to focus on number 17 - Partnerships for the Goals. This is where we’re beginning to realise something crucial - when companies come together and ‘sign on’ to a combined purpose, there is a momentum that builds. In short, partnerships drive impact. Combined resources, aligned thought leadership, diversity of thinking… it’s all there. The talk in the boardroom quickly becomes talk around the water cooler and this turns into actions - actions, big and small, that have direct benefits to employee and customer engagement, and the bottom line. When Purpose genuinely enters the workplace, people begin to think, feel, and do things differently.
Partnerships for the Goals are critical for businesses because they offer a scaffold for aligning business strategies with the global sustainability agenda, and contribute to creating a better world for current and future generations.
Partnerships and co-branding opportunities have been around since the dawn of the logo. We’re all aware of the Nike Air Jordan story? What about Go-Pro and Redbull? These, and many others, propelled both partners into the stratosphere (pun intended) of brand recognition and commercial success.
If you think about Partnerships for the Goals in the same way, using all the same drivers - bravery, innovation, collaboration - and just add Purpose, then the results can be incredible. One example is the Race to Zero Breakthroughs campaign. In their own words: “The engagement is an opportunity for retailers to work with other retailers and with trade association partners at the national, regional and global levels to accelerate a whole-economy transition to deliver a healthier, resilient, carbon-neutral world.” Brands bonded by a common purpose joining together to accelerate momentum, and importantly, keep one another on task.
It is critical to understand that there’s more to Purpose than many individuals and organisations realise. Just how important it is not only to solidify a company’s ESG policy, but to involve as many people within the organisation as possible. It can’t be all about ‘top-down’. Thinking about what the individual can do to contribute is at the heart of this idea of Purpose.
Don’t just hear it from me though. Afdhel Aziz, in his article for Forbes, addresses the idea of ‘measuring what matters’ when it comes to what he terms a ‘Return on Purpose’. Financial benefits are the first cab off the rank. Along with Afdhel, we at BCC look forward to more sophisticated and standardised ways to measure, chart and report on the impact Purpose can have for organisations around the world.
Purpose drives people, people build communities and communities change the world.
Barefoot Citizens Consulting are about putting purpose at the heart of your business community internally and externally.
What can you do next?
This is all about recognising where your company, what it does, and who does it, fits in the context of a world that is mobilising to respond to the challenges of our times. We have a saying at Barefoot Citizens Consulting: Be the butterfly. What it means to us is that even the smallest of actions can have a profound influence on what comes next when exploring your Purpose journey.
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