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Sustainability for HR professionals

HRNZ is on a mission to inspire sustainable impact through the HR sector and we invite those who want to champion the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to join us.

Why should sustainability matter to HR professionals?

Sustainability is important to every sector, industry, nation and therefore, everyone. We all have a responsibility to practice kaitiakitanga and ensure we leave enough resources for our tamariki to thrive. This is our moral obligation for our future. We all need to be leaders towards sustainable development and in the Decade of Action, there is no better time to commit and align to the relevant 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that not only speak you to personally but to your organisation.

Secondly, as we mentioned before, the SDGs are also known as “The People’s Goals” and HR is all about people. This makes HR professionals the natural leaders to spread SDG awareness and action through the organisation. Below, we’ve set out specific reasons why HR should drive sustainable change:

  • The SDGs can help communicate and illustrate company values

If your business is making impact towards these 17 areas, whether it’s working internal climate policy, well-being programmes for staff or implementing diversity and inclusion workshops, not linking this work back to the SDGs is a missed opportunity.

  • The SDGs are an effective tool for recruitment and retention 

With the growth in Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), it’s an expectation for businesses to be responsible global corporate citizens. These issues are not lost on younger generations currently within and entering the workforce – we all care about our communities, environment and life on this planet and can guarantee “something” that you care deeply about is aligned with one or more of the 17 SDGs. Weaving the SDGs through your business not only attracts talent but helps retain it when staff feel they are part of a collective mission and their values and input matters.

  • The SDGs is a helpful framework to discuss important issues in a safe environment

There’s no denying it’s been an extremely challenging time through Covid-19. We have a lot on our hearts and minds and we’re eager to connect with others. The SDG framework is a wonderful way to bring up issues of well-being (SDG 3), diversity and inclusion (SDG 10), feminism and gender equality (SDG 5) and climate action (SDG 13). This is a framework that covers all these challenges and more, serving as an effective feedback loop and pulse on issues staff care about but might need help to articulate and/or communicate.

  • The SDGs are linked to employment law and HR obligations that already exist

One only has to look at the relevant legislation that concerns HR to see how interconnected the framework already is:

-  Minimum Wage Act of 1983 – links to SDG 8 (Decent work and economic growth)

-  Equal Pay Act 1972 – links to SDG 8 and SDG 5 (Gender equality)

-  Human Rights Act 1993 – links to SDG 5, 8, and 10 (Reduced inequalities)

-  Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 – SDG 8 and SDG 3 (Good health and wellbeing)

  • Investing in the SDGs is good for business

The UN estimates that achieving the SDGs by 2030 could generate USD $12 trillion in economic activity across the global economy and create 380 million new jobs by 2030. As quoted by Francois-Henri Pinault: “Sustainable development is a fundamental break that’s going to reshuffle the entire deck. There are companies today that are going to dominate in the future simply because they understand that.” Enough said.


Please sign up to our mailing list below to learn more on how we can all grow SDG awareness and work collaboratively to make a difference (and be the difference) in our respective workplaces. By signing up, you’ll also receive the latest trends and updates in the sustainability space and information on our webinars, conferences and podcast relating to sustainability.

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For more information on HR and important role it plays towards sustainability see our recent sustainability sections within our HRNZ magazine: