IMPACT 2030 Summit at UN Sets Course for Corporate Employee Volunteerism and Sustainable Development (Part 2)

By Bill Blackburn, Chair of the IMPACT 2030 Measurement Advisory Committee

At the IMPACT 2030 Summit in New York September of this year, I had the honor of facilitating the Measurement Team, a breakout group of about 20 highly engaged corporate partners and NGOs focusing on measuring the impact of corporate employee volunteer programs on the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) indicators. Supporting the 17 SDGs, there are currently 169 metric goals or “targets” and 230 “indicators” or metric measures approved by the UN Statistical Commission for measuring progress on those targets. Each indicator was developed with considerable stakeholder engagement by the Commission’s Inter-agency and Expert group on Sustainable Development (IAEG), made up of 28 representatives of various national statistical offices. Some indicators are disaggregated by income, gender, age, race, ethnicity, migratory status, disability, and/or geographic location. Determining the indicators was a complex project, with as many as 80 indicators still being evaluated in early 2016 when the 15 year agenda had officially begun and many of the indicators lacking country data or sound methodologies for measurement.

The day-long discussion by the Measurement Team produced a joint understanding on the scope of the measurement task, including the following working definition of Corporate Employee Volunteer Programs:

Company programs—those the Company encourage and support—involving employees of any type who freely offer to provide services for a social, environmental or communitydevelopment cause, including employees volunteering on company time, employees volunteering on their own time without pay, and pro bono services.

The group decided that the way forward on measurement should entail initiatives undertaken by two separate but coordinated subteams:

  • An Alignment Team to review existing mapping processes that align volunteer programs with the SDGs and/or targets and identify one that companies can use as a model. This alignment process and resulting tool (or database) are critical to both encourage further alignment, messaging their work in support of the SDGS and to position companies for eventual SDG impact measurement.
  • A Frameworks Team to collect, review and analyze various relevant impact measurement frameworks (both inside the volunteer arena and possibly outside it) and develop a framework for measuring the impact of corporate employee volunteer programs on the approved SDG indicators. The emerging framework will then be tested on four or five company test cases offered by team members and adjusted as needed.

I shared these team recommendations with attendees on the final day of the Summit at the United Nations, and was pleased to hear much support for this plan. The two teams— Alignment and Frameworks—have now been formed and we have begun to organize, collect and review existing tools and insights to inform the steps ahead.

This is a pivotal objective for IMPACT 2030 and exciting time, a time when tangible achievement can be had on at the nexus of corporate employee volunteerism and the Sustainable Development Goals that will shape the future of society.