Updated: Sep 3, 2020
The United Nations Association of Australia WA Division (UNAAWA) held its first SDG Business Forum Series for the year 2020 on 26 February titled Achieving SDGs and Impact on Business Transformation, at Ernst & Young, Perth.
(from left to right: Michele Villa, Founder of Nextstep Consulting, Jessca Shaw, MLA WA Labour Member of Swan Hill, Adam Carrel, Partner at EY)
Brydie Weston (Consultant – EY’s Climate Change and Sustainability Services Team), in her welcome note, spoke about the necessity of using the traditional culture and knowledge of Western Australia’s culture to bring about a change in the way of living. She also highlighted the importance of equity and inclusion (reflecting particularly upon Indigenous Australians) and the values that are essential in the development of SDGs.
Achieving SDGs and Impact on Business Transformation discussed the improvements and area of concerns that surfaced after the implementation of these goals These were highlighted by Jessica Shaw (MLA of Swan Hills.) She discussed the role of individuals in achieving the SDGs at the grassroot level. By giving her own example, she supports companies that do the right thing “by switching her Superannuation funds to a more ethical fund management firm.” She explained that “the aspirational nature of SDGs does, however, make it difficult to apply on a smaller scale to individuals and smaller businesses, but their collective influence on society makes it essential if we want to see progress.” The goals of SDGs, particularly gender equality, climate action, responsible consumption and reducing inequality, saw a significant level of improvement.
The panel discussion was led by the President of UNAAWA, Dr Sandy Chong and the speakers included: Michele Villa (Founder of NexStep), Jessica Shaw (MLA of Swan Hills) and Adam Carrel (Partner of EY Perth).
The speakers talked about the necessity of bringing changes into the current ways of doing business and the challenges that they need to overcome. Despite the advanced technology, the speakers pointed out that businesses need more innovative ideas, strong leadership, and enduring risk-taking ability. Businesses could also set great corporate citizenship example by standing up against norms that do more harm than good for the communities and environment one operates in.
Michelle Villa shared that “Many directors are worried about the risks involved with transforming their businesses; if we can show them that doing the right thing across the SDGs can drop their risks in companies, then we will overcome this challenge”.
The speakers suggested strategies to create sustainable businesses. They pointed out that setting deadlines help in getting work done quicker. One of the speakers said, “There is a fear of saying something that does not fit with the pack, and until we break away from that mould, new style of leadership will not emerge, and nothing will change”.
The discussion concluded by acknowledging the efficient placement of consultants in businesses, which is working in favour of achieving the SDGs and helping in transforming business practices. Highlighting the importance of individual contribution towards SDGs, it was suggested that members of public and business community should speak against the norms that are hindering the growth and progress of achieving SDG. This could stem from within the business or policies of the government.