Using UN Sustainable Development Goals to Understand Impact

A guest blog by Louisa Burman

As a business owner it can be really difficult to know where to start when it comes to understanding and improving your impact. There are tons of different frameworks out there and there’s more than enough sustainability jargon, even the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can initially feel overwhelming!

That being said, the SDGs are a brilliant place to start the conversation as they cover a broad range of environmental, social and economic impacts. They’re also globally recognised and therefore translate well when communicating with your current and potential stakeholders such as employees, customers, suppliers and investors.

To help you get ‘off the blocks’ Louisa Burman Ltd offer an SDG Impact Mapping exercise which enables business owners to understand which SDGs are most relevant to them and why they’re relevant. This is a valuable exercise for a number of reasons:

  • It’s really visual and clear so it can give focus to early internal discussions about your impact – how you’re generating impact and how you can effectively grow your impact.
  • It can act as a stepping stone to more complex frameworks, giving you a foundation understanding of how your business generates impact so if you’re keen to increase your impact (for instance to reach the 80 point BCorp threshold) you’ll be able to play to your strengths and build on what you’re already doing.
  • The SDGs translate well into external impact reports as they are so well recognised, if you’re considering implementing impact reporting, knowing your SDGs and being able to identify your Primary SDG will help you to focus your reporting and think more about the data you need to be capturing.
  • SDG Impact Mapping isn’t time intensive or expensive compared to other frameworks. The initial exercise will only take about 5 hours of your time: an introduction session, a workshop to finetune the SDGs we’ve shortlisted for your business and a final session presenting the SDGs relevant to your business.

Once you’ve completed this exercise you might decide that, given your current priorities and resources, you’re comfortable with your increased understanding and being able to talk more confidently about the impacts your business creates (both positive and negative). If it best suits your business at the moment, you can treat this as a one off exercise. At the end of the SDG Impact Mapping process you’ll be given:

  1. A process map that shows which SDGs are relevant at each stage of your process and highlights your priority SDG(s).
  2. A guidance document which gives you more details about the specific SDGs relevant to your business and examples of the type of business activities which support these SDGs.

However once you have this understanding, if you are keen to keep up the momentum, you’ll be in the perfect position to start focusing your efforts on improving your impact. Your next steps could include:

  • Having regular internal meetings to discuss the current impact you’re generating and how you want to increase this.
  • Establishing and embedding some key metrics to help you measure and track your impact improvements.
  • Implementing regular internal, or both internal and external, reporting to engage your key stakeholders (such as employees, customers and suppliers) and potentially include them in conversation that inform how you develop your impact strategy.

10% discount

SDG Mapping is a valuable tool which complements the services offered by Green Small Business. Because we truly believe in the value of SDG Impact Mapping to support micro businesses, we offer fixed prices for this service for micro and small businesses (<£10m turnover and <50 employees).

These prices can be found on our website and we’re delighted to offer a 10% discount to all Green Small Business customers. Just drop us an email to let us know that you’ve been working with Green Small Business and would like to redeem your discount: [email protected]

sustainable development landscape wheel