SDG Goal #8: Decent work and economic growth | Strategic Risk | Deloitte


SDG Goal #8: Decent work and economic growth

Sustainable Development Goals Blog Series

On January 1st, 2016, the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development officially came into force. Over the next 15 years, with these 17 goals, countries will combine efforts to end all forms of poverty, fight inequalities and tackle climate change. In this article we aim to familiarize you with SDG #8: SDG Goal 8: Decent work and economic growth, and through what actions your organization can contribute to this goal.

By Michiel van der Valk and Erica Kostense Smit | 13-10-2017


Inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment, and decent work for all forms one of the cornerstones of sustainable development. However, for many vulnerable groups like migrant workers, lower educated people, and people with disabilities, access to work under the right conditions is still far from a given1. Despite the positive global developments that have occurred, such as the reduction in child labor, this problem is still significant. In fact, it is estimated that 168 million children are involved in child labor in 2012 of which a substantial group works under dangerous conditions. The public uproar of migrant workers working in the Qatar 2020 World Cup stadium is just one example of both the scale and the public relevance of this problem2.

Containing both 2020 and 2030 targets, SDG #8 sets the foundation for quality jobs that stimulate the economy whilst not harming the environment. With a focus on education (SDG #4), equality (SDG #5), and access to finance, SDG #8 interacts with many of the other SDG goals. Facilitating work under the right working conditions could, for example, help alleviate poverty (SDG #1), increase overall well-being (SDG #3), and create opportunities for a better future.  


The growing world population and the increasing level of globalization lead to more responsibilities and opportunities. Many of these opportunities can be found in the vulnerable groups mentioned above, as there is still much room for sustainable economic growth. It is therefore highly encouraged to enable and involve developing countries in order to achieve sustained growth. However, there are some risks that occur in the quest towards a more sustainable economic growth:

• The employment market is rapidly changing. A recent study from Deloitte shows that robotization can create new jobs on the one hand, but on the other hand it replaces more repetitive and often lower paid jobs3. This poses the risk of unemployment, especially for vulnerable employee groups. According to the ILO, over 60% of all workers lack any kind of employment contract. Expected is that by 2019, more than 212 million people will be out of work, up from the current 201 million4.

• Beyond the risk of unemployment lies the issue of forced labor. In 2016, over 40 million people were, in what they call, “Modern Slavery”. This mostly occurs in industries like domestic work, agriculture, mining, building industry and manufacturing. However, there is still a misconception that this only occurs in the developing world, or only in certain industries. For example in Europe, forced labor remains the most commonly reported forms of modern slavery5.

• Digitalization is going fast, and highly impacts the job market and the way people work. The way of communication changes throughout the companies as they are becoming more like interconnected networks. The 2017 Deloitte global human capital report6 has an interesting section on diversity and inclusivity, providing insights in the global developments from an HR perspective. Examples mentioned to support sustainable economic growth are to use technology and data to identify problems and measure projects, and to make sure that the entire organization commits to this goal – hence moving beyond HR.


Organizations can help people to obtain decent work and support sustainable economic growth. Below are a few examples on how this can be achieved:

Sourcing across borders
The first example concerns a company that sourced its products mostly outside of Europe. The intention of this company was to become a more responsible partner in its supply chain, which means that it aimed to reduce its environmental and societal impact. The specific points of attention were already known by the company, though they required help from Deloitte in developing actions that would reduce their impact.

Together with this company, Deloitte translated the points of attention into definitions that had a clear meaning to the company. This would make it easier to understand the challenges at hand. Hereafter, measurable values were developed, which helped the company to better measure the impact on natural resources and the effect on its employees. Another helpful action was to compare performances of different member firms, as well as sharing their best practices and lessons learned. The resulting action plans and additional trainings now help increase both the living conditions for the employees, and reduce the impact on their environment.

A flexible workforce
Another example would be to create a workforce that is able to adapt to changing environments. This can be achieved by focusing on programs that stimulate permanent learning, in which gamification can play an important role. One of the effects of gamification is that it can create alignment between different departments in a company. To illustrate this: a game that focuses on creating shared goals helps increase interaction between employees. Employees get a better understanding of each other’s strengths and qualities, which stimulates collaboration. This can help employees adapt to changing working environments and improves the atmosphere on the work floor, which in turn creates better working conditions.

The above mentioned suggestions are just two examples that can be taken into account to support SDG #8. Together we can make an impact that matters!

Sustainable Development Goals Blog Series

This blog is part of the Sustainable Development Blog Series: a blog series that highlights the 17 SDGs one by one on a biweekly basis. In these blogs you will find more information about each SDG, why it is important for your organisation to contribute to the achievement of it, and specific examples of how you can do that.

More information?

For more information about the Sustainable Development Goals and what your organisation can do to contribute, please contact Anne Huibrechtse-Truijens via / +31882882071

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