Sustainability as a term has become the new hot thing and if you have not been living beneath a rock you must have catch this phrase somewhere. If you are working for a big or even mid-size company sustainability is something everybody is currently talking about.
I will not be talking about sustainability in general, not even explaining the term because at the moment this should be known to everyone, I would like to talk about something which is maybe a little bit neglected in companies, but which can have a great impact in achieving the UN sustainable goals, and that is concrete sponsorship and donations strategy.
First and foremost, lets briefly explain what the UN sustainable goals are.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015, provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future.
At its heart are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are an urgent call for action by all countries – developed and developing – in a global partnership. They recognize that ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth – all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests.
There are in total 17 goals and 169 targets. It would be illusional to think that any country or company regardless of their wealth and power can tackle and achieve all goals, however it is imperative that we commit to several key goals in our business strategies.
It is already well known which is the key role of banks in sustainability story, to channel investments toward more green and sustainable projects and clients, exclude brown industries form business cooperation and help companies in their transition toward more green and sustainable business. This is what banks can achieve through their core business meaning, financing and investments. However, is there something more what we banks as companies can do to help achieving sustainable goals? Absolutely!
More or less all companies, including banks, engage in some type of sponsoring and donations activities but we often see that this goes in all directions, from sponsoring local fair, to small sports clubs to sponsoring concerts or tree planting. We would say a mix of everything without a clear path.
Having a clear defined strategy of sponsorship and donations can help not only companies support the right projects but also channel the financial aid to targets and goals selected by the company.
First step in defining concrete strategy would be to define key UN sustainable goal to which the company commits, or in more wider terms to define key material topics for their business and operational strategy.
For example, in terms of RBI Group, focus lies on those SDGs that are most material and relevant to our business activities and that best complement our sustainability strategy.
The following criteria was taken into consideration when deciding on key goals:
Relationship with the RBI Group – How closely is an SDG related to us as a Group;
Importance – how important it is for us to contribute to achieving of the mentioned goal
Impact – impact that the RBI group can actually have on the respective goal
Attractiveness – potential that this SDG has on our Group
Finally, 12 SDGs have been selected, such as ending poverty, inclusive and quality education, gender equality and urgent action to combat climate change…
When SDGs are defined, next step is implementing crucial SDGs into your sustainability strategy, and subsequently into your sponsorship and donations strategy.
Whether your goal is to focus on environmental issues, diversity or educational topics this should be clearly communicated in the strategy. It is even helpful to define percentages of your budget to be distributed to programs supporting certain goals.
Key to successfully fulfilling your goals is also to proactively search for partners whose programs would support targeted goal and not wait for them to approach you.
If your top priority is to tackle the issue of diversity, search for associations closely connected with promoting this topic, possibly even create a mutual program to benefit all parties.
Research shows that companies that have clear sponsorship strategies, and which engage their employees in these activities have a higher employee satisfaction rate, and their employees have a stronger feeling of pride of being a part of such an organization.
Having a clear and defined strategy will not only benefit you as a company but will above all have a strong impact on the community, and companies which have the means to make a difference surely have a duty to do so.
We are at a critical level where we should really observe and evaluate each business decision through sustainability filter and ask ourselves how this can benefit the community, what will be the final impact and is this contributing to defined goals.
Autor: Raiffeisenbank Austria