• Katreena Sarmiento

Sustainable Development Goals on a Small Business Scale

This article contains my personal suggestions on how small businesses could contribute to the accomplishment of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals provided by the United Nations.

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In September 2015, the United Nations decided to create a set of goals that would change the world as we know it today. As a result, 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are now in action.

This cluster of independent but interconnected goals was explicitly designed to give the Earth a better future. It contains hundreds of targets, measurement indicators, and processes geared toward the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development.

The United Nations ensured that the goals were straightforward, allowing individuals to find small ways to help. But other than providing normal individuals a guide, SDGs also provide businesses with a clear and sustainable path called the “Path of Humanity.” It aims to help organizations harness their power and align their business ventures with global objectives.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) stated that small and medium-sized businesses account for most private sector business and economic activity in most countries. With this in mind, SMEs have the power to make impactful decisions on SDG targets.

Given the significant role of SMEs in the global economy, it’s crucial to understand the potential of their contribution to turning SDGs into reality.

However, corporate sustainability may be challenging to tackle, mainly if you have no background on the matter. To help you out, here’s a detailed guide on how you can meet SDGs on a small business scale.

How Your Small Business Can Contribute To The United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals


1. End Poverty

  • Set and implement strict non-discriminatory policies across the entire company

  • Give all applicants a fair shot, and don’t base their potential on their social status

  • Recruit, train, employ and help local community members (including individuals living in poverty)

2. Zero Hunger

  • Support small-scale farming by practicing farm-to-office snacks

  • Source food packs from local entities

  • Implement transparency within the agricultural supply chain

  • Use food as an incentive for local community members to participate in your company’s events

3. Good Health and Well-Being

  • Provide employees with reliable health benefits and insurance

  • Ensure that your company has an in-house clinic that’s open to employees and passersby who need immediate medical care

  • Have free annual physical examinations for employees

  • Give regular mental health seminars to boost morale

4. Quality Education

  • During a project planning process, it’s essential to include educational programs like internships, traineeships, and work-study programs. These programs give students early access to the corporate world

  • Provide employees with opportunities for professional growth

  • Give constant training so that employees can improve their hard and soft skills

5. Gender Equality

  • Make sure to compensate employees equally based on their roles and skills, not on their gender

  • Always support employees who will use their maternity or paternity leave. Likewise, it’s essential to welcome them back with open arms the moment they’re ready to work

  • Support your employees’ right to access child and dependent care by extending services, resources, and information

  • Implement a zero-tolerance policy regarding violence at work. This should include verbal, physical, and emotional abuse

6. Clean Water and Sanitation

  • Encourage water conservation across the entire company

  • Prioritize water efficiency by investing in sustainable technologies

  • Educate employees regarding the importance of water efficiency

  • Prohibit hazardous chemicals and materials that can negatively affect water quality if improperly disposed

  • Provide employees with clean drinkable water to minimize the need to drink tap water

7. Affordable and Clean Energy

  • Prioritize pursuing efficient certifications such as Energy Star and LEED

  • Practice energy-saving measures across all business operations; preserve light, cooling, heating, and more

  • Participate in Earth hour events

8. Decent Work and Economic Growth

  • Provide employees with apprenticeship opportunities

  • Mentor young entrepreneurs and hone their skills

  • Implement a firm policy against unjust hiring and recruitment processes

  • Incorporate entrepreneurial culture without making your employees feel burnt out

9. Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure

  • Provide a standardized guide on how projects must be accomplished

  • Promote health regulations to ensure that all campaigns and initiatives are sustainably managed

  • Seek innovation by providing stakeholders the opportunity to come up with creative solutions to various sustainability hurdles

  • Don’t produce products that are terrible for the environment

10. Reduce Inequalities

  • Practice business-driver poverty eradication activities such as the development of a living wage policy

  • Team up with civil society networks or local foundations to provide individuals with educational and entrepreneurial skills training

  • After training them, give homeless individuals the chance to work for your company

11. Sustainable Cities and Communities

  • Encourage employees to support and utilize public transportation services such as trains and buses

  • Develop or participate in a sustainable community and bring together relevant stakeholders through a common platform. You may analyze, discuss, and act upon urban functionalities, resilience, and sustainability development.

12. Responsible Consumption and Production

  • Instead of using virgin raw materials, your small business may switch to post-consumer materials via recycling and upcycling

  • Make it a habit to reduce waste and ensure that unavoidable waste is used to its fullest degree. One of the many ways to do this is using organic waste as fuel or fertilizer.

13. Climate Action

  • As much as possible, retrofit the company’s lighting systems using LED lights. It uses 95% of its energy to become light, leaving only 5% wasted energy

  • Have a deep understanding of climate change and use it to reinforce the company’s assets and supply chain

14. Life Below Water

  • Minimize your business’ carbon footprint by utilizing materials that are good for the environment

  • Disclose relevant information on the chemicals found in your product’s packaging and processing system

  • Prohibit waste mismanagement, littering, and other activities that may pollute the marine environment

15. Life on Land

  • Research on how your products may impact the ecosystems and natural resources

  • Implement strict practices for efficient land-use planning and management

  • Practice responsible sourcing practices beyond compliance. Make sure to apply environmental and social safeguards for every raw material, commodity, and byproduct to be used and produced

16. Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions

  • For all your sustainable business ventures, you must comply with laws and meet international standards

  • Provide employees with adequate legal support

17. Partnership for the Goals

  • As a small business enterprise, you must partake in SDG-related partnerships similar to the United Nation’s Make the Global Goals Local campaign.

  • Make sure to partner with corporations that value sustainability if you plan to associate your company with another organization.


Final Words

By establishing a set of sustainable purchasing policies, SMEs are given a chance to promote employee well-being and increase environmental credentials. This leads to a sustainable supply chain that offers greater opportunities to innovate and open new markets, giving your small business a competitive edge in international trade.

And ultimately, you have the chance to make a difference in the world – so take the “Path of Humanity” and incorporate it into your business today.


Sources:

(1) United Nations https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/sustainable-development-goals-retired-link/

(2) Business For Good https://b1g1.com/sustainable-development-goals-guide

(3) Business https://www.business.com/articles/un-sustainable-development-goals-for-small-business/

(4) Sustainability Knowledge Group https://sustainabilityknowledgegroup.com/the-importance-of-smes-role-in-sustainability/

(5) Academy to Innovate HR https://www.aihr.com/blog/non-discrimination-policy/

(6) Health Consultants Group https://www.myhcg.com/blog/health-insurance/what-employee-health-benefits-should-i-include/

(7) Positive Psychology https://positivepsychology.com/burnout-prevention/

(8) HeartLand Alliance https://www.heartlandalliance.org/the-value-of-hiring-and-supporting-people-with-lived-expertise-of-homelessness/

(9) International Labor Organization (ILO) Business, Non-discrimination and Equality https://www.ilo.org/empent/areas/business-helpdesk/WCMS_DOC_ENT_HLP_BDE_EN/lang--en/index.htm