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The United Nations Invites You to 'Lever Up' Your Social Impact

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Investment & Markets
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By Christen Graham

I received a preview recently of the United Nations’ global goals for 2030, slated to be formally unveiled at their Social Good Summit in September. Presented by U.N. Foundation’s Aaron Sherinian at the annual Cause Marketing Forum, he laid out 17 (wow!) global goals.

Many of the corporations in attendance, like CVS, Seventh Generation and AT&T, are working on a good number of them – and issued a call for us all to “lever up.” Here they are:


  1. No Poverty

  2. No Hunger

  3. Good Health

  4. Quality Education

  5. Gender Equality

  6. Clean Water and Sanitation

  7. Modern Energy

  8. Good Jobs and Economic Growth

  9. Innovation and Infrastructure

  10. Reduced Inequalities

  11. Sustainable Cities and Communities

  12. Responsible Consumption

  13. Protect the Planet

  14. Life Below Water

  15. Life Above Water

  16. Peace and Justice

  17. Partnerships for the Future

Of course all businesses makes some kind of social impact, intentionally or not, positive or not. This list demonstrates (again) that a company’s social impact extends well beyond charitable giving and cause marketing, although those are excellent places to start.

Look inside and outside the four walls of your operations and think about the effect your business is having throughout the supply chain. Consider whether your business is practicing responsible consumption of water, as Pepsi and Coca Cola are doing now, or how it is performing on inequality vis-a-vis fair pay and executive diversity.

Companies that get it – Eileen Fisher, Unilever, IBM, Colgate Palmolive, Panera Bread and New Balance for instance – aren’t waiting to be regulated into thinking about these issues. These enterprises are working on all 17 in one way or another. And yet when asked what’s left to do, they will answer "still so much more."

Everyone is invited and eligible to participate in the Social Good Summit and can follow along at #2030NOW. And you don’t need to go to New York to benchmark the social impact your business has. Start a conversation with senior leadership to explore performance of these 17 points. The process will engage teams across the enterprise, connecting human resources, facilities and marketing. I guarantee (yes, guarantee) that once you do, your enterprise will make a greater positive social impact.

Christen Graham is President of Giving Strong, Inc. a global social impact consulting firm.

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