Saturday Spark #5
By Susan Hunt Stevens, Founder & CEO
I am a sucker for online quizzes, whether learning that I’m most like Darryl Philbin in The Office or that Austin, TX is the city that most fits my personality (who knew?). So when I learned from one of the campaigns on WeSpire about a short, fun quiz to discover which of the United Nation Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) most resonates with you, I was all in.
If you aren’t familiar with the UN SDGs, they are 17 ambitious goals that more than 190 world leaders committed to in 2015 in order to help end extreme poverty, fight inequality & injustice, and address climate change. Examples of goals are Goal #2 “No Hunger” and Goal #4 “Quality Education”. They are part of a wider 2030 agenda for sustainable development and built on some of the amazing progress made by the 8 Millenium Goals. In addition to addressing criticism that the 8 goals were too narrow, the process to develop the goals was considered to be one of the most inclusive and transparent in UN History.
While ALL of the goals resonate with me, the quiz determined that #3 “Good Health & Wellbeing”, #5 “Gender Equality” and #14 “Life Below Water” came out on top. Now, how does knowing this help? It’s about prioritization. Yes, all the goals are important and we want to live in a world where all of these goals are hit. But no one person or one organization can focus on 17 goals effectively. But if we align personally around the goals that ignite our passions and leverage our respective strengths, together we can hit them all.
As an individual, you can use these goals to focus your time, talent and treasure. It can be a filter to identify or select an employer, choose volunteer commitments, find charities to donate to and even what to learn more about through books and movies. If you are parent, you can find out what goals resonate with your child and encourage learning and action accordingly. In this framework, my time spent as a board member at the Center for Women & Enterprise and the New England Aquarium make sense. When I consider another opportunity, I can use these three categories as a filter. It can even apply to movie night. Stevens kids: note that “Chasing Coral” has been added to the list!
As a leader, you can use this in two ways. First, determine which goals align with what your organization does and what impact you have. So #2 No Hunger is very connected for a food company whereas #16 Peace & Justice and Strong Institutions is a good fit for a law firm. Then you can use that selection to align everything from innovation efforts to philanthropy and partnerships. Second, what goals are of most interest to your employees? For example, if you find that climate action resonates with a large percentage of your employees, you might decide to get more involved with Ceres. You can offer more company organized volunteering efforts that are tied to climate action. You can offer employee benefits or awards that align with carbon reduction like renewable energy or benefits for electric vehicles.
So no, this quiz alone won’t change the world. But if it inspires all of us to identify our passions, focus our efforts, and contribute towards hitting one or more of the goals, then together we will build a better working world.
Quote of the week: Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have. ― Margaret Mead
As the leader of a purpose-driven company, I’m challenged daily to ensure our company is “walking the walk” and that I’m personally leading with purpose and impact at the forefront. The result is that I read, think, and learn a lot about the intersection of purpose, impact and leadership and have a few successes and a lot more “lessons learned.” I realized that my own insights may be helpful to other purpose-driven professionals if I took the time to reflect each week. If you find this inspiring, practical or helpful, I’d be honored if you shared it with your colleagues, your families and your friends.
Read Following Week’s Saturday Spark: I’m Here for the Mission