The Surprising Link Between HR and SDG1

As Organizations, do we understand the role we can play in the implementation of the SDGs?

Born at the UN conference on Sustainable Development in 2012, The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.

Now, if this statement doesn’t summarize the role of HR, I don’t know what does.

The role of the HR Team is to advocate for the needs of the employees, improve the employee experience, develop their talents, and help them achieve their career development goals, while at the same time ensuring the goals of the organization are being met through these employees.

If this is achieved, there definitely will be a better and more sustainable future for both parties.

There are 17 SDGs, and number one on the list is No Poverty, which aims to eradicate all forms of poverty.

You may be wondering, what does this have to do with organizations and HR?  Many executives may feel they have nothing to do with this because after all, everyone in the organization is earning a salary.

But it does have a lot to do with organizations and HR. If you take into consideration the cost of living, education, healthcare and the fact that 40% of the Kenyan population earns less than kshs.50,000 per month, you will realize that most employees are living in poverty and struggling with debt.

We therefore cannot leave the responsibility of eradicating poverty to the government alone. Employers must be part of the solution.

So, how can HR Help?



1. Invest in training, skills development, and career development plans.

By putting in place an effective performance management system, skills gaps can be identified which can then form the basis for upgrading employee’s skills.

This ensures employees are continually being developped and this in turn ncreases their earning power and opportunities for growth.

Another way of promoting career development can be offering student loans as a benefit to employees who want to further their education.

2. Adopting financial wellness programs

The objective of these programs is to help employees understand investments, debt management and budgeting. This will help them build financial safety nets and avoid retiring poor.

3. Develop employee benefits systems, especially for low earners.

This could be as simple as subsidized food products from a specific store or offering meals at work. To avoid the hustle of putting up a kitchen and hiring cooks, employers can consider partnering companies that offer employees’ meals benefit, e.g. M-KULA service by Apptivate Africa. It may not seem like much, but it reduces the employees’ expenses, which helps them save or allocate funds to something else.

4. Stop unfair labour practices.

Cases of termination of contracts for expectant ladies, long working hours without due compensation, paying below minimum wage are still rampant in Kenya. All these practices deny employees the opportunity to have sustainable lifestyles, pushing further away the dream of SDG1.

5. Consider adopting the hybrid work model (where applicable) and allow employees take up more than one job.

It is no secret that some employers will put you on the chopping list the moment its known that you have a second job or a side hustle, because they see it  as a distraction to your “main job”.

I personally think it’s time employers stopped wanting to own employees and instead focus more on productivity. The flexibility will help the employees earn more, and employers in turn will get happier and less stressed employees. The hybrid work model will also help employees save on transport costs thereby increasing their disposable income.

6. Conducting external HR audits

It can be difficult to assess your introspectively. An external auditor however, is able to review processes and standards for what they really are, because they assess through a neutral lense that is not tainted by bias, history or  prejudice. They are able to assess all HR activities, advise and give recommendations on how to better align  the HR operations with SDG1.

It is important now more than ever, for organizations to show what they stand for other than profits.

A commitment by all employers towards “No poverty” among their employees, can go a long way in the achievement of SDG1.