Webinar highlights: How your people strategy is contributing to the UN Sustainable Development Goals and delivering ESG results

Author Clare Thornton
May 9, 2023

On Tuesday 2 May, we were excited to partner again with Cecilia Crossley to host an exciting webinar on how people strategy is contributing to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and delivering environmental, social and governance (ESG) results.

Cecilia is host of the podcast and event series, How HR Leaders Change the World, which is curated by the social enterprise she founded, From Babies with Love – a social enterprise that provides employee engagement gift services to global HR functions and donates 100% of profits to support 45,000 vulnerable children.

Sharing knowledge and inspiring action, How HR Leaders Change the World features the strategies and successes of pioneering CHROs – highlighting how commercial people strategy is also driving change.

So, how is your people strategy contributing to the SDGs and driving ESG results? Read our highlights and watch the webinar replay video to find out.

Webinar replay

There are many connections between the work HR leaders are doing and positive change. Cecilia uses the ESG framework to walk us through it and suggests some free resources and tools to share with your teams.

The elements of value

Cecilia first refers to a diagram that talks about how we deliver value – for anything and anyone.

The base layer of pyramid is functional value, including benefits such as saving time and cost. As we move up the chart, the perception of the value you’re offering increases.

The next level is emotional value – how you (or your products and services) create positive feelings or reduce anxiety. The third level is inspirational value – how you give hope, motivate or encourage. At the top with highest perceived value is social impact – how you’re helping someone else as well as yourself.

If you’re writing a business strategy or business case, you can look at the benefits you’re demonstrating across all four types of value. If you can include social impact, you’re showing the highest perceived value and presenting your case in a way that speaks to our humanity. This is how connecting your work to the SDGs or ESG can help you achieve your goals.

The E in ESG: environmental

Under the environmental banner, Cecilia discusses skills planning, hybrid working and – a topic always worth discussing – food!

Many businesses are setting environmental targets, such as net zero. Achieving such goals requires the right talent and skills to achieve. Upskilling, re-skilling and recruiting to do so means HR is contributing to goal 13 (Climate Action), goal 14 (Life Below Water) and 15 (Life on Land).

Hybrid working contributes to goal 11 – sustainable cities and communities. Cities include many offices and HR is creating workspace where people thrive.

As we change patterns of working, HR has the opportunity to consider where people work, how they get there and how we can harness change to improve community use of space, energy use, food and water use. There are many connections to the work of HR.

The S in ESG: social

There’s a wealth of HR work contributing to the “social” in ESG – such as recruitment, health and wellbeing, and reduced inequalities.

A lot of the work by your HR function will link to recruitment strategies that contribute to the UN SDGs. SDG 1 is no poverty. One way to break out of poverty is to have a job.

Businesses can support non-discriminatory and gender-sensitive recruitment practices (poverty is greater among women) to support this goal. There are also many elements of your recruitment that support goal 4: quality education – in particular vocational skills training.

Turning to SDG 3, health and wellbeing, if you’re responsible for your health insurance benefits or other health programmes such as mental health, you’re making a significant contribution to this goal. Family planning is also part of SDG 3, as well as HR work to support colleagues dealing with issues related to substance abuse.

The G in ESG: governance

Rather than elements of governance that make you think of compliance and reporting, consider culture and leadership – a big topic for businesses and their HR functions.

Creating the right culture involves leadership training and development, values training and performance management, plus the metrics that measure how your people contribute to that culture.

Leadership is part goal 17: partnerships for the goals – you’ll see promotion of leadership traits around collaboration, cooperation and empathy.

This also links with goal 16: peace, justice and strong institutions – including businesses. An example of HR work that contributes to this goal is your company’s approach to psychology safety and, at a detailed policy level, your whistleblowing policies and procedures.

Tools and resources

Cecilia shares some free tools and resources for you to use and spark your own ideas:

  • The B Impact Assessment tool: a digital tool that can help measure, manage, and improve positive impact performance for environment, communities, customers, suppliers, employees, and shareholders
  • Boardroom 2030: invites and equips businesses to explore what a 2030 future might look like and draw attention to the changes we must make to our boards
  • Coming soon: a How HR Leaders Change the World free digital tool that will help you map your HR work to the UN SDGs. Join the free How HR Leaders Change the World community to be the first to receive it!

Webinar replay

A huge thank you to Cecilia and everyone who joined us.

If you’d like to hear more about our events – or to discuss your career or hiring needs – please complete our form below.

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