Ideagen Exclusive Interview With Ritz Carlton’s Sue Stephenson

The Ritz Carlton is helping to promote the mission and goals of IMPACT 2030.

It was an honor to have Sue Stephenson, a Corporate Responsibility Executive with The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, as a speaker at our Ideagen (Idea-gen.com) Summit in June. Her speech highlighted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which the United Nations General Assembly will adopt on September 25, 2015. There are 17 goals in total, encompassing the key issues impacting our planet such as “poverty, inequality, and climate change.” Ms. Stephenson also discussed IMPACT 2030, an organization that was created as the “result of a resolution that was adopted by the sixty-sixth UN General Assembly” which stated: “The General Assembly... welcomes the expanding involvement of the private sector in support of volunteerism, and encourages its further engagement through the expansion of corporate volunteering and employee volunteer activities.”

She went on to discuss IMPACT 2030 and its goals. “Impact 2030 is a business-led coalition with multiple stakeholders, including the United Nations, civil society and the public sector. Our goal is to align companies and their employee volunteering strategies with the Sustainable Development Goals to make real and sustainable change by 2030.”

Ms. Stephenson also mentioned Project Everyone, which has a “goal to educate, inspire, and engage 7 billion people around the globe about the Sustainable Development Goals” or the Global Goals as they will become known. “On the 25th of September, when the goals are adopted by the UN General Assembly, a campaign will be launched, mobilizing an incredible network in 173 countries, including all of the major global media outlets,” working to publicize these Global Goals.

IMPACT 2030 is collaborating with Project Everyone to create a Global Goals Employee Engagement website. By educating employees about the Global Goals, they will see that their volunteer actions aren’t just impacting “what the company feels are important local issues, but in fact they are laddering up to what indeed are global issues. So particularly for our millennial workforce, who bring their values to the workplace and want to be engaged in making change, creating great good — alignment with the Global Goals presents an outstanding employee engagement opportunity.”

IMPACT 2030 partner companies have begun aligning their employee volunteering strategy with the Sustainable Development Goals. This is exciting for the companies involved because, “these are issues that resonate with employees, they are relevant to communities around the world — whether it’s poverty, hunger, or health, education, gender equality, energy for all, climate, etcetera.” Ms. Stephenson also highlighted that IBM, one of the IMPACT 2030 member companies, has developed an app “that records the hours that employees are giving in skills-based, pro-bono, and traditional volunteering, and mapping it to the Sustainable Development Goals.” Eventually, IBM will be making the app available for other companies to use.

IMPACT 2030, Ms. Stephenson says, is about mobilizing “strategic human capital” to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. “For those of us that are involved in skills-based volunteering, we know it is a powerful tool to inspire and engage your employees, and to help them develop critical thinking and leadership skills” by leveraging their unique talents, skills and experience and is also “an effective way to strengthen employee retention. So, there’s both a real investment and value proposition for the companies involved.”

IMPACT 2030 is also focused on measuring the impact employee volunteers make. Ms. Stephenson says, “We’ve got to be able to determine how we effectively measure the impact of the important work that our employees are engaged in around the world.” She shared that IMPACT 2030 plans to work with existing resources to develop methodologies and frameworks through which to measure both the impact of volunteer commitments of member companies and the collective results of the IMPACT 2030 network on the UN Development Agenda.

The organization sees cross-sector cooperation as a method vital to achieving their objectives. IMPACT 2030 plans to maintain a strong global presence “through our multi-sector regional voice networks.” Ms. Stephenson says, “It can only be done through a multi-sector approach to these regional voice platforms, which are currently taking place at a continent level, but we envision have the potential to be distilled down to a community level.” IMPACT 2030 also aims “to create avenues for cross-sector, cross-industry, and trans-regional collaboration and cooperation” between companies and stakeholders to initiative joint commitments and actions.

She concluded, “At the end of 15 years, we are going to leave existing and new organizations with advanced tools to engage employees in volunteer work, to measure progress and impact, and I think, most importantly for us, to promote the power of people to change the world.”

Impact 2030 has targeted, admirable goals, and we cannot wait to see the positive change their work will create throughout the world.

08/27/2015 03:38 pm ET