How to Align The SDGs To Your Business Performance

Are you looking for ways to help align your SDGs to your business performance? Here’s how companies can use SDGs to drive change by embedding them into corporate strategies.
February 22, 2023
5 minutes

In 2015, a set of 17 objectives and 169 targets known as the “Sustainable Development Goals” began to serve as a "blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all." The objectives were established by the United Nations as a global call to action to help eradicate poverty, safeguard the environment, and guarantee that everyone lives in peace and prosperity by the year 2030.


Why Align Business Performance To The SDGs?

For sustainable business owners, these SDGs function as a set of principles that can be leveraged to evaluate and manage social, economic, and environmental risks while also enhancing their brand, reputation, and strategic positioning in today's global marketplaces.


In fact, according to a KPMG study on SDG reporting in 2018, 84% of top companies have identified the SDGs that are most relevant to their business. To put it simply, eco-conscious companies and organizations can utilize the SDGs as a much-needed tool to convey performance, interact with different stakeholders, and create goals and activities.


SDGs are also growing in significance for investors, who must fulfill their fiduciary obligation by taking into consideration material ESG (environmental, social, and governance) viewpoints. A report “Better Business, Better World” by the Business & Sustainable Development Commission revealed that the business models related to the SDGs could open opportunities worth up to US$12 trillion and increase employment by up to 380 million jobs by 2030.


How To  Align Your Business With The SDG Framework


Recognize the SDGs and incorporate related objectives into your daily business activities

Learning more about each of the SDGs, the pertinent objectives, and KPIs is the first step businesses should take in their SDG journey in order to understand how these elements are both directly and indirectly connected to their daily operations.


For instance, Schneider Electric used the five megatrends of climate, circular economy, ethics, health & equity, and development to link their company operations to all 17 goals.


Set priorities

Businesses should examine which SDG targets will have the most impact in terms of risk or opportunity in the medium to long term, as well as which goals the organization can help advance. While some companies might be able to contribute to all of the 17 goals, it’s important to pinpoint the resources and define the timeline. In other words, it’s better to start with those targets which create the largest impact. Like Huawei, which actively worked on developing the ICT Sustainable Development Goals Benchmark.


Set your SDG goals

Companies frequently already have goals and initiatives that they may build on as they establish their SDG strategy. Many science-based targets (SBT)-committed firms utilize their validated targets to track progress toward SDGs 7 and 13, which focus on affordable and clean energy and climate action, respectively. For instance, Unilever clearly outlined the connections between their carbon-positive goals and various programs like RE100, and SBT, and how they support the applicable SDGs.


The integration process

Companies must include these objectives in the current strategy, taking into consideration business models, procurement and R&D procedures, and supply chain reforms, in order to make the SDG plan sustainable and successful.


You can find areas where your business can draw on current commitments and projects to positively contribute toward SDGs by realigning sustainability strategy to fulfill both business goals and the SDGs.


In order to examine how some of the current projects are affecting the SDGs, Novo Nordisk collaborated with Washington & Lee University and produced an interactive graphic illustrating those relationships.



Declare your support for the SDGs through your website, yearly reports, and other communication materials. This promotes performance transparency and openness to diverse internal and external stakeholders.

For example, using EcoStruxureTM Resource Advisor, a worldwide cloud-based solution, Nilfisk, a prominent producer of commercial cleaning equipment, was able to collect, organize, and display the sustainability data needed for their CSR report, CDP response, and compliance with EU energy efficiency laws. The tool served as a venue for engaging internal stakeholders.


Numerous helpful tools are being developed to assist businesses in better understanding how they may contribute to the SDGs in a comprehensive manner (see tools below).


Tools to help align your SDGs to your business performance


SDG Compass – Business Tools

Provides guidance for companies on how they can align their strategies as well as measure and manage their contribution to the realization of the SDGs


SDG Industry Matrix

It profiles opportunities to create 'shared value' which in the context of the SDGs represents the coming together of market potential, societal demands


Business Charter for SDGs

Designed to provide a practical framework including tools for businesses of all sectors and geographies to help them shape their own business sustainability strategy. I


Business for 2030

Aims at showcasing business' past and continuing contributions to sustainable development through the prism of the SDGs.


In conclusion: Align your SDGs to Your Business Performance

If you want to actively help enable economic empowerment and poverty eradication, advance environmental stewardship and contribute to dealing with the transboundary global challenges highlighted by the UN Sustainable Development Goals, then it’s only logical to align your SDGs to your business performance.


Opportunities to both develop commercial success and address some of our times' most pressing concerns do not have to preclude the other. Consider how your company may make a net positive impact on one or more of the SDGs by using your core competencies. This will result in real change and boost your brand.