SDGs have enabled Kpmg to reframe the Corporate Responsibility (CR) strategy, giving a clear direction to CR activities and raising people awareness. The process has gone through different phases: labeling CR activities with SDGs, internal communications to diffuse the new approach, an internal survey to select the most relevant SDGs, a photo contest on the winner SDG (n.4), a specific action plan on education, health&wellness initiatives and reshaping employees volunteering considering the SDGs.
‘Make the difference’ has always been our main objective. But how?
KPMG is actively committed to the local communities where it operates, including support to non profit organizations, the business community and the internal stakeholders. Thanks to the SDGs framework we have had the chance to give our Corporate Responsibility (CR) efforts a clear strategic focus and increase people awareness.
The process to get our strategy permeated by SDGs has gone through different phases.
The first step was scanning all the CR initiatives and assign them a specific SDG label. This has enabled us to get the flavor of the direction of our efforts: which areas we are contributing most, which activities are not linked to the global priorities and which global priorities we are not addressing.
The second step was communicating this new approach to our people informing that all our CR activities are now guided by SDGs, with the clear intention of making them aware of the overall CR strategy and educating them on the SDGs at the same time.
Thus, the following step was an internal survey where Italian employees were asked to pick the SDG they consider most relevant for KPMG in Italy. In order to allow them to choose consciously we built an online platform to vote where the meaning of the SDGs is explained. This action had a twofold benefit: on the one hand it has allowed us to perform a little “materiality analysis” among our internal stakeholders, while on the other hand was a simple tool to train them on a crucial contemporary CR topic such as the SDGs.
The winner was the SDG n.4 – Quality Education and it has been elected as the topic for the photo contest 2017. Every two years the Italian employees are given a chance to participate to a photo contest: the three most voted pictures have been rewarded by culture-related prizes, which again raise the point on the theme of education.
The effort on SDG n.4 has also brought to the definition of a specific action plan on education, which includes participating to the Pact for Youth European campaign, which is aimed at making companies and educational institutions work together to support youth employment. To this purpose, we host teen students for internships where they challenge themselves with their first working experience and we recruit many young candidates giving them the chance to learn professional skills and develop their career within the company. Still, we support university students through Enactus, a global organization which is committed to assist young change makers to build their social enterprise project, and through the set up of a scholarship for talented students attending management-related academic courses.
Even younger children’s education is addressed: a “book reuse” initiative asks employees to collect the books they are not using anymore to be donated to schools or disadvantaged children support centers. In addition, a creativity contest is organized in the company premises to stimulate employees’ children’s skills and bridge the gap between home and workplace.
We are also helping start-ups to grow thus contributing to their professional education: we support accelerator, incubators, start-ups contests as mentors, providing both public workshops and one-to-one services which contribute to increasing the know-how of these early-stage organizations.
Following the SDG n.4, the second-ranked theme was related to health&wellness. Thus, the health-related activities have been increased and framed within a specific action plan. Check-ups have been organized company-wide, workshops about healthy lifestyle have been offered to employees and participation to sport initiatives has been encouraged.
The third position in the SDG ranking was related to local communities. The well-established employee volunteering project has been renewed by labeling every initiative with a related SDG.
Born by the CSR department input, this process of integration of SDGs into the corporate responsibility strategy and activities has involved other actors. The communication department has supported in fine-tuning the internal messages sent to our colleagues, the marketing department has played an active role in some education-related activities, the HR department has helped with employee engagement, the volunteers who manage the relationship with no-profit organizations and the facility department has been involved in the logistics of the workshops. The leadership has been actively involved in the whole process, from the early idea of the strategy review to the involvement of employees through a survey aimed at collecting the internal stakeholders view and increase their awareness, from participating to public initiatives on education to sponsoring health-related initiatives.
The process has brought some challenges: combine all CR activities with specific SDGs has sometimes been difficult but useful to realize what is effectively contributing to the sustainable development. Diffusing the SDG-related contents company-wide has involved a relevant effort and the survey has resulted to be a good tool because it is even interactive and engaging.
The new mindset has been perceived by employees and top management, who are now aware of what SDGs are and see every CR activity labeled with an SDG. Employees response has been positive: for example, 523 people have participated to the survey, 51 pictures have been considered in the photo contest, about 90 people on average attend health-related workshops and the general feedback on CR has raised 2% compared to the previous internal satisfaction analysis. However, adoption of the SDG-mindset in daily activities and in the other departments frameworks is still in progress.
This process of integration of the SDGs in the company strategy could be labeled both as a strategic move and an internal advocacy mechanism to reach, educate and involve employees and leadership.
Some outputs have been measured: 523 people participated to the SDG survey, about 650 students involved in internships or similar youth employment-related programs, 5 students who benefited from our scholarship (in 2 editions), 220 books donated to schools, 439 colleagues contributed to the photo contest, 50 colleagues benefited from blood checks before donation from the beginning of 2017 (431 in total from 2008, when the program started), 170 attended the courses on first-aid emergency, 328 the participants to the workshop about healthy nutrition and 30 those to the workshop about multiple sclerosis.
Outcomes are harder to measure. Our desired outcomes mainly refer to internal culture and employee awareness. Internal culture could benefit from the new shape of the CR strategy, in the hope that the other departments will adopt this framework as well. Employees awareness has been boosted by the survey to choose the most relevant SDG and the photo contest on SDG n.4. Other outcomes have to do with people mindset (e.g. how much they have integrated SDGs in their view, any change in their approach to culture and education), with the benefits on colleagues’ health, with the growth of the start-up we support, etc. We are currently starting to look at those outcomes both by observing qualitative changes in people responses and setting up some early-stage monitoring tools.
The desired impacts are even more indirect and focus, for example, on the youngsters, students, children which benefit from the education programs we support. Moreover, at a larger scale even Italian companies could ultimately benefit from KPMG change in strategic approach towards SDGs since this can permeate our interaction with clients as well and the role model we stand for.