Family businesses for a sustainable future

Family businesses have a significant economic and social impact and can therefore have an important impact in terms of sustainability. The Family Business Network and UNCTAD have launched the "Family Business Sustainability Pledge" and developed sustainability indicators that help family businesses assess their economic impact, environmental performance, social impact and good governance.


Sustainability promise and indicators for family businesses

Two-thirds of all companies worldwide are family businesses. Together they employ 60% of the workforce, and contribute more than 70% of global GDP. Because of this significant economic and social impact, family businesses can play an important role in making the world a better place through responsible management and sustainability.

That is why the Family Business Network (FBN), together with the intergovernmental organization UNCTAD, launched the "Family Business for Sustainable Development" initiative to promote sustainability among family businesses. In doing so, they launched the "Family Business Sustainability Pledge" and a set of sustainability indicators. The "Sustainability Pledge" calls on family businesses to promote sustainable growth, environmental awareness, social inclusion and responsible policies. The sustainability indicators provide a framework for assessing how a family business contributes to the United Nations' "Sustainable Development Goals."

In 2015, the Paris Climate Conference (COP21) adopted the 2030 Agenda and Paris Agreement. To this, the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) called on leaders from business, government and finance to work together to achieve the SDGs. The goal is a sustainable business environment with positive effects for people and the environment. In this way, family businesses can also support sustainable development for future generations.


Development of indicators

Experts in the world of family businesses have developed specific indicators to measure the sustainability practices of family businesses and contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These indicators are based on case studies and pilot projects at existing family businesses and measure various aspects such as governance, ethics, community impact and philanthropy. The report was inspired by existing reporting models, such as B Impact, and case studies of sustainability performance at family businesses that show how the company's core values translate into sustainability policies and practices.

In developing the list of indicators, the unique characteristics of family businesses were taken into account, requiring a tailored approach. The indicators assess the culture, policies and practices of family businesses along four dimensions: economic impact (8 indicators), environmental performance (12 indicators), social impact (7 indicators), and good governance (7 indicators).


You can read the sustainability pledge here.

You can download the detailed list of indicators.