By Josephine Victoria Yam, J.D., LLM.
2018 June 14
In these troubled times, businesses continue to be a shining force for good.
Take for instance, Lego, which makes colourful plastic bricks our children (and we) love to play with. It works with nonprofits to provide play-based quality education to vulnerable children.
Or Nike, which creates stylish running shoes with its iconic swoosh so we can "just do it". It uses responsible production processes such as recycled materials for its athletic gear.
Or Visa, which facilitates payments through credit cards so we can shop on Amazon in our pyjamas. It provides poor families with financial services so that they send their kids to school or buy a home.
Many large companies are tackling the world's big, hairy and audacious social and economic development goals. These global goals are outlined in the 2030 Agenda of the United Nations as the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). They include ending extreme poverty, protecting our planet and eliminating gender inequality.
The private sector's active participation is crucial to achieving these 17 SDGs. It alone possesses vast financial capital and human capital resources necessary to advance the 2030 Agenda.
Yet, these inspiring examples on Lego, Nike and Visa are not enough. The United Nations Global Compact 2017 report found that more than one-third of the 9,000 participating businesses are still not engaged with the 17 SDGs.
Enter IMPACT 2030, a private sector-led organization, which collaborates with the United Nations and other stakeholders under the banner of “Employees for the Global Goals”. Its mission is “to activate human capital investments through employee volunteer programs to advance the achievement of the SDGs”. It encourages companies to support employee volunteering to solve the world’s biggest problems.
And one way companies can address the SDGs is by supporting their employees to serve on nonprofit boards. Employees can share their time, talents and expertise at the board leadership level and make a huge impact in the nonprofits.
According to Sue Stephenson, Impact 2030's Vice Chair and Interim CEO:
“IMPACT 2030 is ideally suited to support nonprofit board service among companies because of the strong support from its corporate partners for advancing the impact of human capital investments for the SDGs”.
Impact 2030 recently partnered with Better World Leadership to develop human capital for a sustainable world. According to CSR expert Alice Korngold, who heads Better World Leadership:
“[N]onprofit board service is an effective pathway for companies seeking to grow shareholder value by… fostering economic development to achieve the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)".
The Better World Leadership report discusses why employees serving on nonprofit boards help achieve the SDGs which also benefits their companies.
Nonprofit board service programs provide companies with a powerful opportunity to develop their employees as leaders while advancing the greater good. That creates a triple win – for the company, the employees and the nonprofits.
As Peter Thomson, President of the 71st Session of the UN General Assembly quipped:
“Every moment of service adds up to a better world for all on a healthy planet.”