Do companies care about the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals?

This is an excerpt from this week’s Above the Bottom Line newsletter. Subscribe HERE to receive updates on how the world’s most influential companies are taking a stance on the issues you care about

Are you familiar with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals? Or the SDGs, as the wonky government and nonprofit world likes to call them without ever spelling out the full acronym. They are a set of 17 goals and 169 targets for 2030 (and you can learn more about them here in a handy FAQ).

I ask because they’ve been on my mind lately, as I’ve been wondering if and how companies use these goals to guide their corporate responsibility and core business strategy. Lucky for us, the Responsible Business Trends 2017 report is out, and it tracks exactly that!

According to the report:

  • 60% of corporate respondents said their organization is integrating the SDGs into business strategy, and that’s compared to 46% only a year ago.
  • Asia Pacific was the region with the highest rate, with 66% of respondents saying “YEP!” Compare that to 59% in Europe and 56% in North America.
  • Most of those companies are focused on climate change (#13), good health and well being (#3), and decent work and economic growth (#8).
  • Companies are least focused on life below water (#14) and peace, justice and strong institutions (#16).

Combine those insights with a report from PWC last year:

  • 90% of citizens surveyed from around the world believe it’s important for business to sign up to the SDGs.
  • 78% of citizens reported that they’d be more likely to use the goods and services of a company that signed up to the SDGs.

So the question I’m left asking is: To what extent are companies truly committed to delivering against these goals?
It’s easy for a company with a solid marketing and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) machine — which, let’s be honest, is often one and the same — to appear completely engaged on an issue.

But which companies are creating the systems and metrics to deliver on their promise?
I don’t have the answers, but it’s definitely up to us to pay attention and hold them accountable whenever possible.

Click here to read the rest of this week’s Above the Bottom Line newsletter, including recent headlines and a podcast episode recommendation.

Nikita T. Mitchell