60 seconds with…Itad’s Inclusive and Sustainable Business theme

Our ‘60 Seconds with…’ blogs are designed to provide a quick rundown of what our staff do here at Itad. To celebrate their launch, we’re talking to Itad’s new Inclusive and Sustainable Business theme about what they do…

Why a theme for Inclusive & Sustainable Business?

Businesses are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their responses to global challenges – often collaborating across sectors to accelerate change across key value chains, sectors and systems. At the same time, the SDGs articulate a much greater role for business in supporting and accelerating sustainable development globally. This all creates new challenges for effective learning, cross-sector dialogue and impact measurement. We think we can help!

Who makes up the Inclusive & Sustainable Business theme?

The theme is led by me (Simon Lee), drawing on experts across our team of over 100 Itad colleagues, plus our global network of researchers and evaluators based in countries as diverse as Ghana, India and Australia.

Within Itad, who else does the theme work with?

We are a truly cross-cutting theme, touching on a wide range of issues including gender empowerment, youth inclusion and sustainable cities. So, we are working with a number of other themes including climate change, health, livelihoods and WASH (water, sanitation and health). There are also clear sectoral links to our work on private sector development and impact investing.

What is the theme working on right now?

As a brand-new theme officially launched in April 2019, we are excited to be working with two US-based multinational companies to help with their responsible supply chain and corporate philanthropy programmes.

How would you categorise what you offer?

We aim to support business in three key ways: strategic insight to inform action planning on specific sustainable business/supply chain issues, like the ones I mentioned earlier; supporting culturally sensitive cross-sector dialogue for effective collaboration; and supporting M&E – both for real-time learning for continuous improvement, and to better demonstrate impact so as to make a strong case for continuing to invest and participate in sustainability initiatives.

What innovations are you excited about in your sector?

Two things. Firstly, the increasing sophistication of business-led and multi-stakeholder initiatives for sustainable development, including systemic change. There’s a huge amount that business, donors and other sectors can learn from each other, which is why we’re excited and think we can offer something genuinely valuable in this space. Secondly, the increasing recognition among investors and stakeholders that impact measurement needs to move beyond standard KPIs to a more qualitative and cross-cutting approach – an area where we have significant expertise.

What has been a recent highlight for the Inclusive & Sustainable Business theme?

Speaking personally, as a newcomer to Itad I have been incredibly impressed by my new colleagues’ enthusiasm and interest in the need for business to take a more leading role in driving global impact, and our role in supporting that. As we’ve more clearly defined our service offering, I’ve also been encouraged by the positive feedback we’ve received from our external networks and ‘critical friends’. I’m looking forward to meeting with more businesses to find out how we can help!

Inclusive and Sustainable Business theme, August 2019

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