The shift from ‘how?’ to ‘why?’ in the long-running debate around the impact business can have on society was at the forefront of discussions between Australian business leaders and CEO of Corporate Citizenship Neil Davy, during his recent visit to Australia.
Presenting at a range of forums, including Corporate Citizenship Network Briefings in Melbourne and Sydney, Neil brought the role of collaboration in driving success in these areas to the fore. He said there was growing interest in articulating a business’s purpose beyond making profit but, there’s a “collaboration conundrum with a growth in confusing terminology to describe the social, environmental and economic impacts a business has on society along with the steadily eroding trust for business.”
During his time in Australia, where Corporate Citizenship is working with a growing list of national and international clients to develop programmes which make a greater impact on society, Neil shared global examples of principles and tool kits to tackle the collaboration conundrum.
He also referred to the work of Nik Gowing ‘Thinking the Unthinkable’ which speaks of the inadequacies of corporate leadership to contemplate and consequently prepare for the seismic and, at times, unthinkable challenges business can and will face in the future.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), developed by the UN and directed at governments as milestone targets to achieve by 2030, is a prime example of how business collaboration is paramount to resolving the world’s social and economic challenges. Neil explored how the SDGs present a ‘blue print’ to fix the world and can unlock US$12 trillion opportunity for business to make money in new market value and be a part of the solution.
While the SDGs present a way forward, Neil comments they can only be achieved through the collaboration of governments, NGO’s and business and concluded with guidance on how to successfully navigate the collaboration conundrum.
Address barriers to integrating sustainable business practices
Whilst collaboration is key, recognising and addressing the internal challenges to collaboration is essential, a new global practitioner survey conducted by Corporate Citizenship earlier this year highlighted:
- 15 % lack the knowledge, tools and guidance on what specifically to do (about the SDgs) and how to go about it
- 15% lacked performance metrics or monitoring
- 15% cited culture, low employee awareness or understanding as another barrier.
Guiding principles for collaborating for SDG success
- THINK – define material SDG Goals and priorities for your business or organisation
- ACT – through products and services
- MEASURE – translate aspiration into targets
- ENGAGE – your stakeholders
- COLLABORATE – consider unusual partners
(*adapted from Corporate Citizenship’s TAME framework)
For more information about developing effective partners to drive sustainable business practices contact Simon Robinson in the Melbourne office of Corporate Citizenship.