SDGs: Ethical Corporation’s Responsible Business Trends

In an extract from the Responsible Business Trends Report 2019, Ethical Corporation’s Liam Dowd says progress towards integrating the SDGs into business strategies is continuing

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are increasingly being adopted by companies to inform future strategies and shape current impacts. Are companies using the SDGs as a framework for reporting their impacts, are they measuring their impacts against the SDGs and which SDGs are corporates most engaging are all questions explored in this section.

Over the past two iterations of our Trends report we’ve seen an increasing number of respondents state they are integrating the SDGs into their business strategies. This trend has continued for this year’s report with 71% stating that the SDGs are being incorporated within the core business. This is an increase of 2% on last year’s study and a 11% increase since our 2017 report.

The region where there’s the highest level of integration within business strategies is Asia/Pacific 80% (76% in 2018 and 66% in 2017) followed by Europe 74% (74% in 2018 and 59% in 2017), and finally North America 64% (61% in 2018 and 56% in 2017).

In terms of where companies are in integrating the SDGs into corporate strategy, 77% of respondents stated their business is either mapping or currently integrating the SDGs into business strategy.

The SDGs were designed for national and regional Governments so the task of adapting the 17 Goals and 169 Targets into measurable and actionable business goals represents several challenges. Understanding the challenges and areas of difficulties that business face when adopting the Goals across their business can highlight where more work and collaboration is required. The respondents were asked what has been the most challenging aspect of integrating the SDGs into business strategy. The below word graph highlights some of the most common sighted issues.