10 Dec Big Week at the U.N. Spells a Challenge to Business Leaders
The U.N. is often action packed but this week it went crazy in the name of Sustainability. Here’s a small part of the schedule;
· 21 September Youth Climate Summit
· 23 September Climate Action Summit & Universal Health Coverage Summit
· 24 – 25 September Sustainable Development Goals Summit
· 26 September Financing Development Summit
· 27 September Small Islands Development Summit
To coincide with these events the U.N. released an action-plan document https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/takeaction/ aimed at motivating ordinary citizens to do more to sustain the planet & its people.
Consulting all age groups, the U.N. sought ideas for what people felt they could realistically do; i) in their personal life, ii) in the home, iii) in their community & iv) in the workplace.
For our purposes I will focus on the latter &, if your business is not yet on the sustainable journey, get nervous.
Here are some of the ideas that made it into the final version of what people can & should consider in the workplace;
I. Speak up! Ask your company to engage in initiatives that will not harm people or the planet
II. Speak up! Make sure your company uses energy efficient heating, lighting and cooling technology, and adjust the thermostat, lower in winter, higher in summer.
III. Women earn 10 to 30 per cent less than men for the same work. Pay inequality persists everywhere. Speak out & voice your support for equal pay for equal work.
IV. Does your company invest in clean and resilient infrastructure? Speak out! It’s the only way to keep workers safe and protect the environment.
V. Organize a ‘No Impact Week’ at work. Learn to work more sustainably for at least a week: un.org/sustainabledevelopment/be-the-change.
VI. Corporate Social Responsibility counts! Encourage your company to work with civil society and find ways to help local communities achieve the goals.
There were many others ideas, and all laudable, but the point we as business owners should note is that people, our colleagues, our employees, are being encouraged to speak up, to speak out more and pressurise the businesses in which these people work, our businesses, to become more sustainable.
You can ignore the rising tide;
· 5.5m children worldwide demonstrating against global warming & for the interests of the planet
· Major companies & institutions like IKEA, HP, Unilever, Canon, Dell & DHL investing millions in sustainable projects
· Trade Unions both demanding action and threatening action
· Governments setting targets
· The Media clamouring for a response “from business”
Take control of the story, plan your sustainability responses & drive the sustainability debate in the workplace with staff & customers, with suppliers & stakeholders, with investors & your local communities and be ready to reap the rewards the sustainability dividend brings.
You will be pushing at an open door but the stakes are high:
Your business can either walk through the door marked “sustainable business” or be forced through it by disappointed customers, disgruntled staff, unhappy stakeholders, reluctant investors & a media keen to focus on their next “bad-business-bad-news” story.
It should be a rallying call to business no matter their size; “be on the journey or be out of the race”. The choices are stark but making tough choices is what good businesses do well. Good luck.
If you’re not yet on the sustainability journey or if you feel your efforts are not yielding the result you expected, reach out to us here at Global Impact via firstname.lastname@example.org
We work with clients across Europe on a range of Sustainability & Social Responsibility projects which all began with a structured assessment of the sustainability impacts of your business followed by helping set priorities, draw up relevant plans, implement actions & assess outcomes prior to marketing & PR efforts.
Our work is deliberately seamless & focuses on priorities with measurable outcomes: there’s a good chance it will put a smile on your face too, & that has to be worth an initial conversation.