More than ever, the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals are responding to the global challenges facing businesses. From poverty to climate, through inequality and peace, they challenge leaders in their ability to bring about change that takes into account all potential impacts on living organisms.
When designing all kinds of projects, leaders often overlook their scope of influence. don’t say that Could a butterfly’s flapping wings in Brazil cause a hurricane in Texas? ? Focusing on their goal, and being convinced of the merits of their initiative, leaders sometimes ignore some unexpected negative consequences. An example of digital tool management: more and more organizations are taking into account different aspects of the life of information systems. Concretely, instead of focusing only on its direct impact, they take into account other dimensions such as the impact on the environment, on health, but also on education. However, this observation has not been sufficiently shared or even understood by organizations. A solution to avoid this predicament: Make this risk an opportunity to transform rather than a simple marketing promotion solution.
Think domestic and global verb
We live in an increasingly interconnected world, where the slightest action can lead to unexpected repercussions. In this context, leaders have a responsibility to think about their projects beyond the single goal they set for themselves. Indeed, hell is paved with good intentions. Thus, the most beneficial projects can sometimes cause detrimental effects on society, and once launched, they are difficult to stop.
Take the famous example of philosopher Philippa Foot: If you find yourself on a tram you cannot slow down. The only option: whether or not it deviates when passing an intersection. On one lane five people, and on the other lane two people. Who do we choose to sacrifice?
Leaders face the same dilemma in their projects. Education programs in developing countries, for example, mobilizing teachers from abroad. Between raising younger generations and protecting the environment threatened by this displacement, what would a leader sacrifice? The development of microfinance in India better illustrates the harmful effects that the most effective projects can have. The microloans are initially aimed at women with modest resources, in order to encourage their liberation through access to care, mobility and entrepreneurship. However, many studies have noted the failure of some of these programs: exacerbation of spousal violence, reinforcement of patriarchal dominance by loan officers, confinement of women in unproductive sectors, etc. Convinced of the merits of their initial goal, the project leaders overlooked the extent of the obstacles they might encounter in the way of success.
If they do not want to find themselves in this kind of dilemma, it is essential that leaders find a balance between the reasons that inspire them and the extent of the problems their actions cause.
SD Yes, ODD Wash No!
More and more large companies, as well as small and medium businesses, are embracing these sustainable development goals. Hence, they have become nearly 1,800 members of France’s Global Compact, which is mandated by the United Nations to support their responsible approach, in particular by integrating objectives. Many of them, such as Schneider Electric, even include it at the core of their strategic direction: A portion of executives’ variable compensation is based on quantitative goals linked to each of the SDGs. A positive element that reflects companies’ commitment to a new transitional economy.
However, this note must be eligible. 70% of companies that have included one or more SDGs in the roadmap have not changed their business model accordingly. the reason ? They don’t see anything
” Competitive advantage “. In other words, no economic benefit. Thus many observers have spoken of “ODD laundering,” a major risk that could affect the reputation of companies, but also and above all progress towards a more sustainable economy.
Fortunately, as shown in the Novethic study, more and more financial rating agencies and investment funds are evaluating projects using a reading network based on the SDGs. This can be explained by the desire to give preference to long-term projects, which will be able to score over time. Positive development, which should provide leaders the opportunity to pursue
“Sustainable development” of their company for the benefit of the entire ecosystem!