How Can an SDG Career lens Spark Your Purpose? Series Part 1

Something for everyone
By:  Marilyn Johnson On November 17, 2021

Are you looking for that ‘spark’ to ignite true engagement and purpose into your work? I suggest looking through the lens of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  With 17 goals, 169 targets and 232 indicators, there truly is something for everyone who is looking to make a difference in the world – whatever your career aspirations and talents may be.

I was recently interviewed by Mohamed Talil Abdullahi for his article “Incorporate Sustainability into Your Career Journey“. This provided me the opportunity to reflect on how sustainability has been incorporated into my career, and with thoughts on how others could do the same.”

For decades now, the world has been working to address huge global challenges from poverty and equality to resource scarcity. The Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) were a tremendous boost to global progress, and also, during this time, the field of sustainability evolved.  My career path has paralleled this progress and has always connected through the thread of health and well-being.  From my undergraduate and graduate studies in biology, physical and health education, environmental and occupational health; and further, through many roles in Environment, Health and Safety and ultimately as a Sustainability professional – health has always played a role.  As such, it seems only fitting, that SDG 3 – Good Health and Well-Being, would be the SDG that I chose to focus on as a co-author for the SDG Corporate Guidebook Series.

Today, there are many degrees, certificates and programs that include and/or focus on ‘sustainability’, which is wonderful. However, there aren’t a plethora of pure ‘sustainability practitioner’ roles.  And that’s okay.  In fact, that is the way it should be, and needs to be.  I believe that the greatest opportunity for impact, is in addressing the need, and ample opportunity of integrating sustainability into all roles within organizations. For example, procurement, sales, marketing, accounting and finance, communications or otherwise.   Each one of us, is just one small pivot point to recognizing how to integrate meaning and purpose into their work. Applying the lens of the SDGs, may just be the critical piece needed to change our world.

Consider a fictional character, Benedict, a mid-career procurement manager who is feeling lulled into work each day.  When he discovers the SDGs, he realizes that there are some amazing opportunities for him to impact sustainable consumption and production and the power of the supply chain at addressing human rights and environmental sustainability.   He doesn’t change roles, but rather, begins to pivot his perspective to drive real impact every day.

Consider a fictional undergraduate, let’s call her Francis, who is pursuing an accounting degree, but is not sure where she can really plug in with purpose.  By diving in to the SDGS, she finds several targets revolving around finance.  She begins to explore how she can provide micro-finance opportunities to women, integrating her love of finance with advancing gender equality.

Opportunities abound, for your company to advance the health and future. Did you know? Approximately 80% of the factors that impact health care is non-clinical in nature?

If this piques your interest, please follow, like, and stay tuned for my next article where I will dive into more details about the different social determinants of health and the many opportunities for impact in different industries and roles.

  1. Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities What State Legislators Need to Know, National Conference of State Legislators (Dec. 1, 2013)

By Marilyn Johnson

Marilyn Johnson, MHSc, Sustainability Excellence Professional (SEP), Continual Improvement for Social Responsibility (CISR) – Expert level Certified Sr. Director, Global Sustainability, Clarivate Linked In Profile: www.linkedin.com/in/marilynajohnson Marilyn Johnson brings over 20 years as an enthusiastic senior leader of global business, sustainability, and diversity initiatives to SHERPA Institute. She is recognized for innovating and mapping uncharted paths and is known globally for work in both large publicly traded corporations (NYSE: WY; Nasdaq: INFO; NYSE: CLVT) and energetic start-ups.  Marilyn is recognized as one of the top 500 Global Sustainability Thought Leaders in the American Energy Society’s report supported by Honeywell, presented at COP26. As Senior Director of Sustainability at Clarivate, Marilyn is responsible for launching and leading global sustainability strategy and execution, in alignment with, and support of, the UN SDGs. Marilyn leads the Clarivate sustainability steering team, global engagement network of colleague resource groups, the diversity council, and is the executive sponsor of the global volunteer network. Her passion is in creating a culture where everyone has meaningful purpose and impact, fostering an environment where all can thrive, grow and be their true and best self, in support of a common vision. Prior to Clarivate, Marilyn was the Head of Sustainability at IHS Markit, launching and leading sustainability to world-class performance, with many consecutive years of recognition in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI). She is a certified Sustainability Excellence Professional, with a Master of Health Science, Environmental, and Occupational Health, from the University of Toronto, Canada. Marilyn earned bachelor’s degrees in Biology as well as Physical Health and Education from Queen’s University, Canada. She is also a graduate of the Seattle University Executive Leadership Program and the University of California Irvine – Leadership in Sustainability Program.  With SHERPA Institute, Johnson is a Certified CISR™ Expert. As Co-Author with the Institute’s UN SDG3 Corporate Guidebook - Good Health and Well-Being - Marilyn brings professionalism and passion to this project.  She has a robust mix of corporate business acumen, sustainability expertise, as well as health and well-being credentials. Marilyn is an active community leader with many years of experience serving on local non-profit boards and as a long-time member of the International Society of Sustainability Professionals (ISSP). While president of the ISSP Board, Marilyn partnered with professionals worldwide to develop and launch the inaugural Sustainability Professional certification. She is currently a member of the World Trade Center – Denver, Sustainability Symposium Leadership team. Marilyn finds joy in advising and mentoring others, and helping them turn their passion to purpose.  No wonder she is a certified Global Mentorship Initiative (GMI) mentor and member of the GMI Advisory Board. Marilyn loves a new adventure, spending time with friends and family, and is an avid volunteer. She will participate in pretty much any activity that comes her way, from trapeze to golf, to waterskiing and pickleball. She enjoys competitive tennis and long-distance running, having completed 11 marathons. Another marathon Marilyn has started is her article series - Spark Your Purpose with an SDG Career Lens.  You are invited to join her on this journey to gain insights and perhaps share your own story!

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