Creating Social Impact as a Project Professional

It’s not just business as usual anymore. Either on the job or as volunteers, project professionals are increasingly taking on projects that have significant social impact. In this post, Joe Cahill discusses how PMI is accelerating this trend and supporting the profession’s evolving role as societal changemaker.

Project professionals occupy a unique position in society. By virtue of their skillset, they are the leaders that organizations turn to in order to get things done. In most cases, the goals are business related—building a road, for example, or organizing a product launch.

But project professionals are also in demand for projects involving social good—or for projects where business and social goals are inextricably linked. While many people dream of contributing to society, project professionals are uniquely qualified to turn such dreams into reality.

That’s why PMI has always encouraged our members to be generous in volunteering their talents to worthy causes—either individually or through their local chapters. It’s also why PMI itself, in support of our for-purpose mission, has been so active in supporting social activism. “Integrated Social Impact,” in fact, is one of four strategic levers built into our latest 4.0 strategy. It commits us to using our resources and influence to bring about positive social change.

We are particularly dedicated to supporting and advancing the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC)—the UN initiative that encourages businesses and organizations to adopt socially responsible policies—along with its ten principles and 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). I feel a particular affinity for this work and was recently elected to the Global Compact USA board as an NGO member. I’m honored to serve in this role and have already started digging into my committee responsibilities.

Our work with the UNGC dates back to 2019, when, as part of our 50th Anniversary “Global Celebration of Service,” we committed to 50,000 volunteer service hours in support of the SDGs. Not surprisingly, the PMI family overachieved, exceeding that amount by a factor of three and turning in more than 150,000 hours of service on causes aligned with the SDGs.

As part of our continuing commitment, we recently supported the UNGC Leaders Summit and are participating in the Young SDG Innovator Program (YSIP). And PMI’s volunteers are stepping forward again to further create impact on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

A significant part of PMI’s social impact takes place at the chapter level. These chapter volunteers are the ones directly engaged in local projects that support the SDGs. PMI leaves it up to our chapters and individual members to decide which SDGs to support based on their skills, expertise and passions. They are in the best position, after all, to know what services are most needed in their local communities.

Chapters have already begun notifying us of their plans and activities. It’s clear from these early reports that SDG-related projects have wide support among our members—and that chapters are working across a range of SDGs—with quality education perhaps the most popular.

But there’s much more to come. Be on the look-out for more information about our 2021-2025 UNGC commitments and what you can do to help. We’ll be kicking off the official pledge drive in the fall and feel very positive about the momentum we have going into the campaign.

We are immensely grateful for your support of our UNGC commitments and for your dedication to creating social impact in your part of the world. Our profession is growing—not only in numbers, but in stature and significance. In part, that’s because you recognize that the job of the project professional is evolving. Not only are we transforming businesses in our role as project professionals. We are helping bring about a better world as global changemakers. The more we can marry those two roles, the more we all will benefit.

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