This interview is part of a report the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) recently published on the progress of (sustainability) reporting. Randstad is a member of the WBCSD. You can find the report here.

Reporting on the SDGs is becoming more common in the corporate reporting landscape. We sat down with Marlou Leenders, Global Sustainability Manager at Randstad to discuss some of the key benefits and challenges of integrating SDGs into business decision-making and external disclosure.

Why are the SDGs relevant to your business? How do the SDGs help to inform or advance your sustainability strategy? What approach have you followed to familiarize yourself with the SDGs?

Through Randstad’s core values that have been in place since the company’s early days, we take our social responsibility seriously and we believe business must always benefit society as a whole. Our aim is to contribute to a sustainable future, both on a social and economic level, through facilitating the development of fair and efficient labor markets across the world. We have therefore committed ourselves to the SDGs, in particular with regard to promoting sustainable economic growth, decent work for all and reducing inequalities. As an HR services provider, Randstad specifically contributes to four goals (4, 5, 8 and 10) and their relevant sub-targets that link to our ultimate goal for 2030: to touch the work lives of 500 million people worldwide.

How have you anchored the SDGs within the business and embedded sustainability across various functions? What were some of the challenges encountered in this process and how have you overcome them? Our ultimate goal of touching the work lives of 500 million people by 2030 is closely linked to the SDGs and commits our company to developing and realizing the true potential of organizations and people by preparing them for future work. We wanted to set a Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) that inspires and at the same time gives enough guidance to our operating companies. We’re still at the beginning of this process and have developed a roadmap, including objectives and KPIs, to achieve this ambition and provide the necessary frameworks that will enable us to meet our goal and fulfill our potential to contribute to the SDG agenda.

What are the key benefits Randstad has derived from integrating the SDGs at target-level?

Sustainability is an integrated part of Randstad’s strategy and core business. To touch the work lives of 500 million people worldwide by 2030, we need to grow in a sustainable manner. There will be no other way than to constantly innovate in order to increase our impact. And this is exactly what we are doing as part of our Tech & Touch strategy. Technology will improve our services and free up precious time which we can then use for the most important value that we have to offer to our clients and candidates: our human touch.

We know from our heritage that it is our empathy, our intuition and our passion for people that make us successful. We believe that it is the human side of our business that makes the difference. Our ultimate goal, linked to the SDGs, forces us to develop an HR experience that is more human than that of our competitors, so we can truly touch peoples’ work lives. We linked our own KPIs to the SDGs at target level, so we can be more specific on how our strategy contributes to the SDGs. This way, we can be more transparent in what we want to do and how we want to reach it, which helps in setting up partnerships.

What are Randstad’s main objectives with regards to the SDGs in the near future?

We see it as our main objective to engage all our employees and our stakeholders as much as possible to support the SDGs. Our WBCSD
membership can be seen as an important milestone in that direction. Randstad believes that achieving the ambitions of the SDGs is a joint responsibility and we see collaboration as an important tool to enhance the transformations that are at the heart of the 2030 Agenda.