“From 2024, large companies will need to publicly disclose information on the way they operate and manage social and environmental risks.”(1)

Medium size companies (> 350 employees, > 40m€) are also included in this new directive. Many medium-size companies are ill equipped to allocate sufficient internal resources with the capacity, skills and competence to study, understand, and apply the somewhat complex requirements and their CEOs are scratching their heads trying to figure out how to produce the soon required Sustainability Reporting.

The main challenge is that – although the directive is focused on the Reporting – the real drive behind it is to help organisations make better and more sustainable decisions to improve their total impact, which most probably requires significant changes in the way of working and in the internal decision making. Those who will continue with business as usual and try to tweak their data just for the Reporting may not only face risks of non-compliance, but also miss out on innovative opportunities to identify improved ways of protecting their long term value for their business and their stakeholders.

Aligning their strategic choices with a sustainability agenda would normally require a significant transformation at every step of decision making, a real “organisational mindset shift”. This might appear as a daunting task for many, but a highly practical help exists to guide the transformation and help align current business interests with sustainability: it is the UNDP’s “SDG Impact Standards for Enterprises” (2) issued in July 2021. Unfortunately, this new tool is still little known, while the internet is flooded with info and advice from many public and private sources.

The United Nations Development Program – SDG Impact group, provides training (three-day workshops) on their no-nonsense practical tool: the “SDG Impact Standards for Enterprises”. These Standards provide an easy, yet highly comprehensive way of strengthening the internal company culture, by gradually involving and empowering all employees in taking ownership for understanding current sustainability risks, while helping to identify paths of actions that both make financial sense for the business, and guarantee realistic improvements to their long term sustainability.

Those companies that are unsure about how to guide the implementation of the SDG Impact Standards after the UNDP training, might want to consider hiring the help of external facilitators. For example, our Grooa strategic consultancy experts have partnered with the UNDP Impact Group in supporting their first “case”of introducing the SDG Impact Standards at a privately-owned enterprise. This first ever example has been very successful; based in Germany and operating in the food sector, this enterprise (2000 employees, 1500m€), has enthusiastically adopted the Standards and are already reaping numerous benefits; they have uncovered significant innovative opportunities to improve productivity and decrease costs, employees are enthusiastic, and their sales force have a strong new narrative; they have also brought their experience to the attention of their European Industry Association and are inspiring others, gaining profile and impact.

For a short period, the UNDP group are willing to offer a free one-hour info webinar for those European enterprises who are seriously considering adoption of the SDG Impact Standards, in order to help understand their approach and answer questions.

You can refer to Sara Lisa Ørstavik (sara.lisa.orstavik@undp.org) or to myself (laura@grooa.dev-projects.tech) to arrange for an info webinar.

(1) 

https://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/press-room/20220620IPR33413/new-social-and-environmental-reporting-rules-for-large-companies

(2) 

https://sdgimpact.undp.org/practice-standards.html

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