What are the United Nations SDGs and why do we care about them?

flock of birds flying across the sky
Birds of a feather fly together (and make an impact together) / Photo: Andy Tang Unsplash

The UN SDGs (or Sustainable Development Goals) are a group of 17 goals that were designed as a framework to support peace and prosperity for people and the planet. In 2015, the countries of the United Nations were called upon to take urgent action in ending poverty, improving education and health for all, as well as addressing climate change and other deprivations that go along with these worldly issues.

If you didn’t know, iilo is both a benefit company and an impact business. What this means is we believe it’s our mission to conduct our business in a responsible and sustainable way. (Check out our blog “How did iilo become an impact business?” to find out more.)

The first time we learned about the SDGs was back in 2015 when we worked on a report about sustainable lifestyles with our client, OneEarth Living. Seeing how this framework helps people conceptualize big and complex issues in the world lit a spark in us to get behind this mission as well.

So how does iilo align with the 17 goals outlined by the SDGs? Below are the three goals closest to our hearts and that we aim to align our impact goals with.

5 gender equality; 8 decent work and economic growth; 10 reduced inequalities
Sustainable Development Goals #5, 8 and 10 are where we align our impacts as iilo Creative Alliance.

Goal 5: Gender equality

As iilo’s co-founders, Madelen and I are not only business partners and service providers, but we’re mothers too. We both recognize that the average workplace isn’t necessarily designed to support working mothers, family life, or prioritizing physical and mental health (but we’re happy to see the recent conversations to change this in the workplace). We set out to make changes in our own business and define how our team can have access to equal opportunities to do quality work. This process was vital to building our business together.

iilo Creative Alliance is a women-led, women-owned business where we believe in nurturing a diverse team, and giving women and other underrepresented creatives well-paid, interesting, career-aligned work.

Goal 8: Decent work and economic growth 

This goal naturally goes hand in hand with equality for women because, as we saw throughout the pandemic, many women sacrificed their careers to take care of their families. We see the opportunity to take the “normal” business model of working 9-5 hours and change the rules. 

As working mothers, we understand how this model can exclude parents from certain career paths. We believe there can be flexibility in the workplace that promotes a team of hardworking loyal staff. Why does someone need to be confined to 9-5, Monday-Friday work hours when they could have the freedom to get their work done on their terms?  We want to shift the norm of what a full-time job means. We prefer to work full energy, not necessarily full-time hours. 

If we can provide good work and good wages to local women and parents, we’re helping the Canadian and local economy. 

Goal 10: Reduced inequalities

We collaborate with local women, emphasizing the importance of working with BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of colour). We’re working to create an inclusive workplace that welcomes people who have traditionally been marginalized. We aim to work with clients who align with our values in promoting equality and changing policies that support this. 

We’re also very conscious of how we can appropriately support Indigenous artists without appropriating the culture. Our goal is to educate our clients and each other on how we can effectively convey appreciation for these cultures without using important symbols, tokenism, or appropriating cultural intellectual property. 

(Side note — are you a BIPOC Graphic Designer or Communications professional? We’re always looking to add to our list of collaborators.)

We know that the UN SDGs can’t be achieved immediately, but we have to start somewhere. Urgent action is needed to improve the lives of people across the globe and protect (better yet, repair,) the planet for now and in the future. 

Which UN SDGs resonate most with you and your company? Let us know.

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