Giving Thoughts


Q&A with Sue Stephenson: Engaging Employees Worldwide in Advancing the SDGs

By Alice Korngold and Sue Stephenson744737852315_20141206030801_100.png

Established by the United Nations in September 2015, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide a strategic plan to address the world’s most critical issues, including poverty, inequality, and climate change. In that corporations and their employees are uniquely positioned to help solve global problems, the UN established IMPACT 2030 to help galvanize business volunteers worldwide. IMPACT 2030 is a private sector-led nonprofit. In this Q&A, Sue Stephenson, vice chair of the board and interim CEO of IMPACT 2030, describes the role of IMPACT 2030 in convening leaders from corporations, the UN, civil society, academia, and philanthropic organizations, to organize and mobilize millions of corporate employees.

Q: What is IMPACT 2030’s role in helping to advance the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)?

IMPACT 2030 is a private sector-led initiative, in collaboration with the United Nations, public and social sectors and academia, with the mission to mobilize human capital investments through employee volunteer programs to advance the SDGs. The SDGs provide a unifying platform and call-to-action for companies to engage their employees in being part of the solution to the world’s most critical issues. Our overarching mission is highlighted in this two-minute IMPACT 2030 Video.

With an expanding network of partner companies around the world, we are activating awareness of the SDGs, facilitating a cross-sector global movement that is maximizing opportunities to collaborate, and leveraging existing resources and developing methodologies to capture and measure the impact of employee volunteering on the SDGs. We’re creating a global movement!

Our goal is that at the end of 15 years, we’ll have millions of employees galvanized around the global goals, collaboration will be the adopted approach for creating scalable employee volunteer programs, we’ll have launched advanced tools to measure the impact of volunteer efforts, and will have promoted the power of people to change the world!

Q:In what ways can companies participate in IMPACT 2030?

Companies can participate in IMPACT 2030 as a Collaborating Partner, which provides them with full access to IMPACT 2030 tools and resources. This access includes opportunities to:

  • Participate in IMPACT 2030 Action Team Impact Projects, collaborating on multi-sector SDGs-focused employee volunteer projects that are a multiplier of impact.
  • Leverage our education and certification content to inspire and engage employees in meaningful SDGs-action
  • Showcase their employee volunteer projects on our channels
  • Participate in IMPACT 2030 strategic planning events at the United Nations.

Companies interested in finding out more can contact us here.

Q: What are some of the challenges related to the initiative?

At the heart of IMPACT 2030 is the belief that the way to scalable and sustainable impact is through cross-sector and multi-sector collaboration. With that as background, some of our Action Team Impact Project pilots were slow to advance from concept to action.

To help develop a more comprehensive roadmap, last month, at our Partner and Stakeholder Forum at the United Nations, Deidre White, CEO of PYXERA Global, and Chris Jarvis, co-founder of Realized Worth, held an experiential Action Team workshop designed to enable participants to practice the development of an Impact Project. The program enabled attendees to identify different approaches to collaboration, ascertain resources they can bring to the table, and understand how the SDGs and Targets are interrelated.

The workshop concluded with the attendees helping us identify how IMPACT 2030 can help them overcome roadblocks and serve as a backbone organization to help objectively frame action. The overarching message was “Take Action! The Whole is Greater than the Sum of its Parts.”

Q: What’s compelling to you personally that you are so committed to IMPACT 2030?

I can honestly say IMPACT 2030 has been the most far-reaching and impactful initiative I’ve ever been engaged with. Back in 2013, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution recognizing the potential of employee volunteering to address issues and I was invited to join a working group convened by UN Office of Partnerships to work on next steps. As the SDGs took shape it became evident that they offered an extraordinary opportunity for companies to align their human capital investments to create real and sustainable change.

While at The Ritz-Carlton, I set the stage for the company becoming IMPACT 2030’s first Founding Partner, and subsequently, after setting up my own consultancy, Strategies for Service, I continued as a pro-bono volunteer with IMPACT 2030 serving as vice chair of the Executive Committee. At the end of June, I was delighted to be invited to step into the role of Interim CEO, which is providing me with an incredible opportunity to expand our network globally, build out our programming, and collaborate with people who are passionate about the mission of IMPACT 2030.

Q: What’s the case for a company to participate in IMPACT 2030?

We placed a great deal of focus at the onset to clearly define the IMPACT 2030 value proposition. We have an extraordinary group of Founding Stakeholders, including Global Compact, UN Volunteers, PYXERA Global, Points of Light, IAVE, and Taproot Foundation. Therefore, it was important at the onset that we developed a value proposition to showcase that our efforts are not duplicative, but instead are additive for greater achievement.

To that end, IMPACT 2030 enables companies to join like-minded organizations that want to mobilize their employees around the SDGs; leverage our multilingual tools and resources to activate and amplify these efforts; provide collaboration opportunities to their employee volunteers in key geographies; participate in measurement studies that highlight the impact their employees are making; and be part of our global movement.

About the guest:

Sue Stephenson Interim CEO IMPACT 2030

Sue Stephenson
Interim CEO

Sue Stephenson is Interim CEO of IMPACT 2030, a private sector led initiative, in collaboration with the United Nations and public and social sectors, that is leveraging human capital investments to advance the Sustainable Development Goals. Sue is the Founder of Strategies for Service and has served as Vice Chair of the IMPACT 2030 Executive Committee since 2015. Previously, Sue led The Ritz-Carlton CSR program, Community Footprints, and was instrumental in the company becoming the first Founding Partner of IMPACT 2030.


 About the author:

Alice Korngold

Alice Korngold
A Better World, Inc.: How Companies Profit by Solving Global Problems…Where Governments Cannot

Alice Korngold is co-editor of Giving Thoughts and the author of A Better World, Inc.: How Companies Profit by Solving Global Problems…Where Governments Cannot (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014) and Leveraging Good Will: Strengthening Nonprofits by Engaging Businesses (Jossey Bass, A Wiley Imprint, 2005). For over 20 years, she has been training and placing business executives on NGO/nonprofit boards and consulting to corporations, foundations, and NGOs/nonprofits on board governance, CSR, and sustainability. Twitter: @alicekorngold


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