By Ava Kuhlen
Today’s leading companies are well aware of the Sustainable Development Goals and have started planning for how best to align their company’s sustainability strategy against these targets. But turning plans into action is challenging. And even more challenging is connecting individual employees to a company’s larger SDG strategy.
How can you harness employees’ passion, and talent, to make a difference against the SDGs?
Pro bono service, the contribution of one’s skills or expertise free of charge to social change organizations, is an out-of-the-box way to directly engage employees in your SDG strategy.
Below we’ve outlined 3 steps your company can take to end hunger using employee expertise. This approach can help you:
- Make a sustained impact by pinpointing the talent that is unique to your company.
- Create solutions for your community by addressing the challenges of social change organizations.
- Offer employees tangible, action-oriented ways to contribute to your SDG strategy.
- Address hunger holistically with a new food systems approach to pro bono service.
Step 1: What do your employees do really well?
Contributing your expertise requires knowing your expertise. Sounds simple, right? But we aren’t talking about a broad-based view of the talent that exists across your company. To understand where your company’s human capital will make the most sustained and unique impact for hunger, you need to map your talent against the issue of hunger itself. It isn’t only agricultural companies who have expertise that matters to hunger. Talent in marketing, energy, logistics and transportation, and food disposal are all part of a holistic food systems approach. Knowing how your expertise connects to our food system as a whole is the first step in more effectively contributing your skills to ending hunger.
- What does this look like? Say you are a lifestyles company. The bulk of your expertise may fall into the marketing or consumption categories of the food value chain. This may mean you’re uniquely positioned to positively influence the decisions or behaviors of consumers around key hunger issues like obesity and healthy food choices.
Once you’ve identified where in the food value chain your company has core expertise, you need to understand how your talent will be most helpful. The purpose is to use your talent to strengthen the effectiveness of organizations already working to end hunger. Why is it important to engage these organizations at all? Because the SDGs will only succeed if they are both national and local in scale and implementation. This means engaging individuals and community organizations to take responsibility for the SDGs to ensure long-term results.
- What does this look like? Continuing with our lifestyles company example, you can start by researching the challenges of social change organizations working to end obesity. Addressing the needs of partners like the Center for Science in the Public Interest or the Alliance for a Healthier Generation can ultimately help create better research, advocacy and impact for consumer food choices and children’s health.
You’ve identified how your expertise maps against hunger and what organizations in that area truly need. The final step is to create a clear, well-defined scope of work that your employees can feasibly and successfully complete for the social change organization.
- What does this look like?
- Help a food pantry redesign and automate their volunteer intake process, creating a more pleasant volunteer experience and freeing up critically needed time for staff.
- Empower a food resource center to transform into a values-based business model creating an organization more equipped to serve the future needs of their community.
At the current rate of progress, the world is not expected to reach the zero hunger target by 2030. We need to rethink all of our resources for tackling this issue, including our expertise.
Interested in contributing your expertise to end hunger? Contact Taproot to learn more.
Ava Kuhlen is a proven influencer and relationship builder for key players in the social sector. She has more than 10 years of experience aligning networks of people and resources for social impact and specializes in nonprofits, philanthropic advising, and corporate social responsibility. As Director of External Relations, she harnesses Taproot’s expertise and knowledge to grow and advance the field of pro bono service. She’s written on topics around strategic planning, diversity and inclusion, product donations, technology pro bono, and leadership and development.