Corporate Responsibility at Sonova

Sustainable Development Goals

Seventeen sustainable development goals (SDGs) comprise the UN’s global sustainable development agenda for the years until 2030. Sonova has been a signatory of the UN Global Compact since 2016 and actively supports the achievement of all seventeen SDGs.

Sonova’s contribution to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Our analysis of Sonova’s direct or indirect impact on the SDGs, with their 169 targets and indicators, has revealed that Sonova’s products, business strategy, and activities make essential contributions to SDGs 3 (good health and wellbeing) and 4 (quality education). We conduct business in a responsible way and thereby also positively influence SDGs 5, 8, and 9. We have limited and less direct impact on goals 6, 7, 12, 13, 16, and 17.

Priority SDGs

Good health and well-being (SDG 3)

You can read more about our targets and performance related to this SDG in the corresponding sections of this CR Report: Access to hearing care and Responsible products and services.

The third development goal focuses on ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for people of all ages. The importance of good hearing and the consequences of hearing loss are still underestimated, although people with untreated hearing loss often face serious consequences. These range from disadvantages at work to relationship problems and social isolation, which may even lead to depression. As well as its impact on the individual, untreated hearing loss puts a heavy cost burden on society. According to the WHO, unaddressed hearing loss costs countries an estimated USD 750 billion annually in direct health costs and loss of productivity1.

SDG 3 is well aligned with our vision: a world where everyone enjoys the delight of hearing and lives a life without limitations. Sonova contributes particularly to the achievement of the following SDG targets:

  • 3.8: “Achieve universal health coverage, including financial risk protection, access to quality essential health-care services and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all.”
  • 3.C: “Substantially increase health financing and the recruitment, development, training and retention of the health workforce in developing countries, especially in least developed countries and small island developing States.”
  • 3.D: “Strengthen the capacity of all countries, in particular developing countries, for early warning, risk reduction and management of national and global health risks.”
  1. WHO, “Factsheet: deafness and hearing loss” (March, 2020)

Quality education (SDG 4)

You can read more about our targets and performance related to this SDG in the corresponding section of this CR Report: Access to hearing care.

The fourth development goal is about ensuring an inclusive and quality education for all and promoting lifelong learning. To be able to follow a lifelong educational path, it is essential for children to have a good start. Children with untreated hearing loss, however, face severe difficulties, since development of speech and language is fundamentally dependent on the sense of hearing. Untreated hearing loss among children can greatly limit speech, cognitive development, and school performance. Children with hearing loss often grow up unable to find work and become trapped in a cycle of poverty and isolation.

Sonova offers innovative and easy-to-use products especially designed for children. Our philanthropic engagement at Group level centers around the topic of hearing, with a strong focus on increasing access to hearing care in low- and middle-income countries especially for children, mainly through donations supporting the charitable Sonova Foundation – initiated by Sonova in 2006 – with funding, expertise, and hearing solutions, which contributes to the achievement of the following target of SDG 4:

  • 4.5: “By 2030, eliminate gender disparities in education and ensure equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable, including persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and children in vulnerable situations.”

Medium impact on SDGs

Gender equality (SDG 5)

You can read more about our targets and performance related to this SDG in the corresponding section of this CR Report: Investment in people.

The fifth SDG aims at achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls. Sonova is committed to gender equality among its employees, does not tolerate harassment and discrimination, and supports the compatibility of pursuing a career and raising a family by promoting flexible working models. Thereby Sonova contributes to the following SDG targets:

  • 5.1: “End all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere.”
  • 5.4: “Recognize and value unpaid care and domestic work through the provision of public services, infrastructure and social protection policies and the promotion of shared responsibility within the household and the family as nationally appropriate.”
  • 5.5: “Ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life.”

Decent work and economic growth (SDG 8)

You can read more about our targets and performance related to this SDG in the corresponding sections of this CR Report: Investment in people and Ethics, risk and compliance.

Goal number eight is to promote sustained, inclusive, and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all. Through our innovative products, we allow people with hearing loss to actively participate in working life. Sonova also provides reasonable accommodation in its job application procedures for young people and qualified individuals with disabilities. We respect and support human rights, a responsibility reflected in our Code of Conduct and Group Supplier Principles and embedded in the company’s culture. Sonova contributes to the following SDG targets:

  • 8.2: “Achieve higher levels of economic productivity through diversification, technological upgrading and innovation, including through a focus on high-value added and labor-intensive sectors.”
  • 8.5: “By 2030, achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including for young people and persons with disabilities, and equal pay for work of equal value.”
  • 8.6: “By 2020, substantially reduce the proportion of youth not in employment, education or training.”
  • 8.7: “Take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labor, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labor, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labor in all its forms.”
  • 8.8: “Protect labor rights and promote safe and secure working environments for all workers, including migrant workers, in particular women migrants, and those in precarious employment.”

Industry, innovation and infrastructure (SDG 9)

You can read more about our targets and performance related to this SDG in the corresponding sections of this CR Report: Safeguarding the environment and Responsible products and services.

SDG 9 has the aim to build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization, and foster innovation. As a medical technology company with steady growth in employee numbers, revenues, and profit in recent years, we are committed to consumer-centered innovation and contribute to inclusive and sustainable industrialization by investing significantly in research and development and reducing our global environmental impact. We contribute to the following SDG targets:

  • 9.2: “Promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and, by 2030, significantly raise industry’s share of employment and gross domestic product, in line with national circumstances, and double its share in least developed countries.”
  • 9.4: “By 2030, upgrade infrastructure and retrofit industries to make them sustainable, with increased resource-use efficiency and greater adoption of clean and environmentally sound technologies and industrial processes, with all countries taking action in accordance with their respective capabilities.”
  • 9.5: “Enhance scientific research, upgrade the technological capabilities of industrial sectors in all countries, in particular developing countries, including, by 2030, encouraging innovation and substantially increasing the number of research and development workers per 1 million people and public and private research and development spending.”

Limited impact on SDGs

Environmental topics (SDGs 6, 7, 12, and 13)

The common thread in these SDGs is the safeguarding of our shared environment by reduction of environmental pollution, waste, and water use; efficiency and renewable sourcing in energy use; and abatement of climate change-related emissions. Sonova makes an explicit commitment to continuously promote and pursue environmentally friendly practices throughout the entire lifecycle of its products and across all its business activities. The SDG targets that have some relevance to our own environmental policies include:

You can read more about our targets and performance related to these SDGs in the corresponding section of this CR Report: Safeguarding the environment.

  • 6.3: “By 2030, improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally.”
  • 6.4: “By 2030, substantially increase water-use efficiency across all sectors and ensure sustainable withdrawals and supply of freshwater to address water scarcity and substantially reduce the number of people suffering from water scarcity.”
  • 7.2: “By 2030, increase substantially the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.”
  • 7.3: “By 2030, double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency.”
  • 12.2: “By 2030, achieve the sustainable management and efficient use of natural resources.”
  • 12.4: “By 2020, achieve the environmentally sound management of chemicals and all wastes throughout their life cycle, in accordance with agreed international frameworks, and significantly reduce their release to air, water and soil in order to minimize their adverse impacts on human health and the environment.”
  • 12.5: “By 2030, substantially reduce waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling and reuse.”
  • 12.6: “Encourage companies, especially large and transnational companies, to adopt sustainable practices and to integrate sustainability information into their reporting cycle.”
  • 12.7: “Promote public procurement practices that are sustainable, in accordance with national policies and priorities.”
  • 12.8: “By 2030, ensure that people everywhere have the relevant information and awareness for sustainable development and lifestyles in harmony with nature.”
  • 13.2: “Integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies and planning.”
  • 13.3: “Improve education, awareness-raising and human and institutional capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction and early warning.”

Peace, justice and strong institutions (SDG 16)

You can read more about our targets and performance related to this SDG in the corresponding section of this CR Report: Ethics, risk and compliance.

The goal of SDG 16 is to promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable, and inclusive institutions at all levels. Sonova is committed to high standards of integrity in dealing with its business partners and to compliance with all applicable anti-bribery laws. Sonova has identified one SDG 16 target as relevant to its business:

  • 16.5: “Substantially reduce corruption and bribery in all their forms.”

Partnerships for the goals (SDG 17)

You can read more about our targets and performance related to this SDG in the corresponding sections of this CR Report: Stakeholder engagement and Access to hearing care.

SDG 17 aims at strengthening the means of implementation and revitalizing the global partnership for Sustainable Development. We support multi-stakeholder partnerships through our membership in the UN Global Compact and our ongoing dialog with stakeholders to enhance transparency, broaden knowledge, and generate innovative solutions. Sonova contributes to the following SDG target:

  • 17.16: “Enhance the global partnership for sustainable development, complemented by multi-stakeholder partnerships that mobilize and share knowledge, expertise, technology and financial resources, to support the achievement of the sustainable development goals in all countries, in particular developing countries.”
  • 17.17: “Encourage and promote effective public, public-private and civil society partnerships, building on the experience and resourcing strategies of partnerships.”