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Why Business Needs the Global Goals

Created on Sep 06 2017, 4:40 PM by Tess Hetzel

By Delphine Millot, MPA, VP and Head of International Public Affairs at Grayling

As a member of the UN Global Compact, Symantec was included in a new report by DNV GL highlighting companies pioneering progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Symantec was praised for its outstanding work towards gender equality (SDG #5) through unique efforts to recruit women to Symantec’s board of directors and women-specific education programs in cyber security.

The clock started ticking 18 months ago to start delivering on the 2030 Global Sustainable Development Agenda. Efforts are based on the so-named SDGs, a list of 17 goals and 169 targets covering the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development embraced by the 193 member governments of the United Nations.

Governments are calling out businesses directly to play an active role in achieving the SDGs, as their success relies heavily on action and collaboration by all actors. None of the SDGs will be met without increased efforts from all sectors, and the trend on several goals, such as climate change and inequality, is actually going backwards. This is where business can make an impact – as a capable actor with the resources needed to deliver the SDGs alongside governments.

If the global goals need business, the opposite is also true: business needs the global goals. The Business & Sustainable Development Commission found that achieving the SDGs could be worth at least US$12 trillion a year in market value by 2030 and create 380 million jobs in the process. Recognizing and capitalizing on the connections between social, environmental and economic progress has the power to unleash the next wave of global growth and redefine capitalism.

A strategic approach to Corporate responsibility (CR) allows a company like Symantec to be pro-active, develop consistent CR initiatives and build a business model that can be sustained and bring shareholder value over the long term. Such an integrated approach brings credibility and authenticity to a CR program, which in turn enhances transparency and facilitates stakeholders’ engagement.

In this context, companies can use the SDGs as an overarching framework to shape, steer, communicate and report their CR strategies, goals and activities.

Symantec and the Global Goals

Management approach

Symantec looks at the SDGs as an opportunity to align core business activities and innovation efforts with society's needs. From a business perspective, this allows Symantec to reap the early benefits of high-integrity branding with their consumers, investors, employees and the marketplace. The SDGs therefore offer Symantec a pathway to attract talent, unlock new markets and develop new products and services to empower in-need customers on issues such as cyber security.  

Symantec is a great example of a company that has integrated sustainable development into every aspect of its business. Symantec’s approach to corporate responsibility is set by the highest levels of management, who receive regular progress briefings on the company’s programs, including quarterly updates on diversity, ethics, environmental performance and community investment.

Symantec also defined specific, measurable and time-bound key performance indicators (KPIs) as the basis for driving, monitoring, and communicating progress on the SDGs. An example is Symantec's commitment to increasing the diversity of its workforce at all levels of the company by 15% by 2020.

Finally, Symantec reports annually on their corporate responsibility, including diversity metrics, goals and efforts. The CR reports are used as a tool to stimulate accountability and trust through integrated performance management.

Progress on the SDGs

SDG #4: Quality Education

SDG #4 is focused on providing inclusive, equitable, and quality education. The talent gap in cyber security is expected to grow to a staggering 1.5 million by 2020 and there is a vibrant community of underrepresented young adults - including people of color, women, and veterans - that could fill at least 60,000 of these positions if properly trained. Symantec has invested more than six million dollars to engage and educate 745,446 students in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education. Through education, mentorship, volunteering and partnering with leading STEM advocates, Symantec hopes to change the status quo, close the gender and diversity gap in STEM and build a robust talent pipeline. The Symantec Cyber Career Connection (Symantec C3) program was designed to do just this, providing a pathway for underrepresented young adults and veterans to receive targeted education, training, and certifications that position them to fill in-demand cyber security jobs and enter long-term careers.

SDG #5: Gender Equality

Around the world, women are underrepresented in the field of technology. As a result, women are missing out on this promising career path, and the field is missing out on their contributions. Symantec is committed to gender equality and the advancement of women in technology. To this end, they have created a goal to increase the percentage of women globally by 2020 and a sub-goal to increase the percentage of women in leadership (Director-level and above) to 30% by 2020.

Symantec is a founding signatory of the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEP), a partnership initiative of UN Women and UN Global Compact (UNGC) considered globally as the recognized principles and standards for women’s equality. And, through partners like The Anita Borg Institute and TechWomen, Symantec provides stand out females across the world mentorship, professional training and networking to prepare them for a promising future in cyber security.

SDG #13: Climate Action

Planetary warming continued in 2016, setting a new record of about 1.1 degrees Centigrade above the preindustrial period, according to the World Meteorological Organization. Stronger efforts are needed to build resilience and limit climate-related hazards and natural disasters. Symantec integrates environmental stewardship into their operational, product, and supply chain strategies. A sharp focus on environmental performance supports their business objectives and, at the same time, contributes to the urgent action needed to combat global climate change. Symantec took an important step regarding its energy and greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions by establishing a new goal to reduce the company’s GHG emissions by 30 percent by 2025. 

Sustaining efforts over the long run

They key to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals will be sustaining efforts over the long run – and corporations, governments, and nonprofits must all work together to achieve real impact. A business survey undertaken in May 2017 shows that business expects the United Nations and governments to incentivize companies to drive positive change. One incentive, publicly recognizing individual companies’ efforts, is important in two different ways. First, this positive recognition rewards companies’ innovative efforts and makes their stakeholders aware of these efforts. Perhaps even more importantly, this public reporting also disseminates best practices across a wide range of stakeholders. This sharing of best practices, and the ways in which corporations, governments and nonprofits are finding ways to lead in there own ways, is critical to making sure we deliver on the Global Goals by the 2030 deadline and beyond.

void(0)Currently a Vice President at leading communications agency Grayling, Delphine Millot has twelve years of international experience in corporate reputation and public policy. Based in New York City, she heads Graylings International Public Affairs Practice, supporting a wide range of clients on their global communications strategies and advocacy campaigns. Before re-joining Grayling in 2015, Delphine led the business expansion in Africa, Middle East and Europe of a US trading firm, before joining a food start-up working with international hotel groups, restaurant chains and universities to lead the way towards health and environmental stewardship. Delphine completed her Masters of Public Administration (MPA) at Columbia’s University School of International and Public Affairs, with a specialization in sustainability management. 

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