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Get up and GO: Taking sustainable business beyond our own boundaries

Sustainable practices cannot be confined within corporate walls. But how can companies make a meaningful impact in their communities? Here’s a look at how we do it.

If we are making a difference, why stop at our own doors?

In a world where calls for climate action have reached a crescendo, companies across the globe are trying to become more sustainable. Reducing carbon footprints, transitioning to renewable energy, and adopting eco-friendly practices are becoming top priorities. Yet, as we strive for a future in harmony with our planet, the road to sustainability extends far beyond environmental stewardship.

While going green remains pivotal, a holistic approach to sustainability recognizes the interconnectedness of the environment, business, and society. It combines ecological integrity with social inclusivity and community resilience.

Young people want to work for companies that make a positive impact.

A purpose driven workplace

Sustainable business naturally starts from within. A clean, carbon-reducing culture, not to mention a safe, inclusive, and purpose-driven workplace, will help make the world a better place and attract and retain the best people. After all, if you can’t compete for talent, your business won’t be around for long. Studies show that Gen Z and Millennials want to work for companies that make a positive impact.

So how can businesses make that positive impact? By remembering that sustainability is a common purpose we share with the communities we serve. Think about it as a team sport. It’s not enough for one player to shine alone – the team has to work together to win.

And how can your business contribute to the team? Like any other player, you utilize your strengths and skills – but outside your own doors and where they’re needed most. What does that look like? The possibilities are endless, but one thing’s for sure: you should make it a cornerstone of your sustainability strategy. Here at DHL Group, we’ve given our approach to volunteering names like “GO” and “GVD”. Read on to learn more.

Leveraging strengths for lasting impact

We empower people to volunteer in their communities.

Volunteer initiatives become more meaningful and impactful if you prioritize skills-based opportunities. In other words, you empower your people to volunteer in their communities where they will have the greatest impact. That’s because companies have a unique advantage over individuals: a pool of skilled people and company-wide resources.

To do this, you’ll need to understand the inherent overlap between your company’s purpose and your employees’ skills – and how these can distinctively address specific community needs.

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Get up and GO: Harnessing our core capabilities

At DHL Group, our purpose is Connecting People, Improving Lives. Our people are logistics and business experts located in over 220 countries and territories worldwide. To channel these resources for maximum impact, we’ve established our “Go” family of sustainability programs: GoGreen, GoHelp, GoTeach, and GoTrade. And to match these programs with global priority needs, we work with leading international organizations, such as the United Nations. Our Go programs are one way we support the UN Sustainable Development Goals:

Colleagues in Vietnam planting trees.

GoGreen for environmental engagement

While making our operations greener is a top priority, we also want to inspire our employees and get them involved in our climate protection activities. That's where our GoGreen program comes in. For example, we’re working with partners to plant one million trees each year worldwide, and we encourage our people to help us make that happen. We also run a global Certified GoGreen Specialist training program to turn our employees into green logistics experts and empower them to practice sustainability every day at work. The collective power of our approximately 600,000 colleagues worldwide can go a long way toward fostering a culture of climate-friendly behavior in our communities.

DHL Disaster Response Team (DRT) handling relief supplies.

GoHelp for disaster preparedness and response

With our global network and logistics know-how, we can make a difference in the wake of a natural disaster. That’s why we started our GoHelp program, which consists of Get Airports Ready for Disaster (GARD) and our Disaster Response Teams (DRT). GARD is all about disaster preparedness. We collaborate with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) to help airports in countries with moderate-to-high risk of humanitarian crises. DRTs are specially trained volunteers who deploy to the affected airports when called upon by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). They help the local authorities cope with the sudden rise in incoming relief goods, such as food and medicine.

DHL employees acting as mentors to support young people.

GoTeach for improved youth employability

Our people are our biggest source of experience and expertise. We launched our GoTeach program to utilize that know-how to inspire and empower young people to attain the skills and confidence needed to be prepared for the world of work. Our volunteers help them explore and confirm their career ambitions, develop the required skills, and gain first-hand experience in working environments. GoTeach relies on global partnerships with Teach For All and SOS Children's Village International, with collaborations at the regional and local levels. Through different partner networks like the SOS children’s villages YouthCan! Network and Teach for All’s Future of Work initiative, we extend our reach and improve the program’s impact.

A surfboard shop owner preparing a shipment.

GoTrade for sustainable and inclusive economic growth

As a global logistics provider with a unique international footprint, DHL employees have the expertise to foster trade facilitation around the world. The purpose of our GoTrade program is to create sustainable and inclusive economic growth through trade in developing and least developed countries. Our experts focus on three areas: helping small and medium-sized businesses to grow internationally, creating responsible supply chains, and simplifying customs. Working with international organizations, such as International Chambers of Commerce, the International Trade Center, and the United Nations, they share their knowledge by leading workshops for entrepreneurs, participating in fellowship programs, and working with local authorities to digitalize customs processes and reduce red tape.

DHL Singapore volunteers cleaning the beach.

Global Volunteer Day: Recognizing and encouraging volunteer work

Establishing social impact programs is one thing, but fostering the spirit of volunteerism in an organization is another. Our Go programs certainly attract attention and plenty of volunteers. But it’s up to us as an organization to mobilize the strength of our global team and empower our people to contribute to their communities. Our Global Volunteer Day (GVD) – which just celebrated 15 years! – has become a major factor in those efforts. Each year, over 100,000 employees in more than 80 countries volunteer their time to support nonprofit projects in their local communities. And we encourage volunteers to use their skills to organize activities aligned with our Go programs. Despite the name, GVD is not limited to a single day or project. GVD activities take place throughout the year. 

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We all benefit when businesses engage

In a world where the urgency of sustainability has taken center stage, businesses must transcend the boundaries of their corporate walls to make a meaningful difference in their communities. Sustainability isn’t just about reducing carbon footprints or embracing renewable energy; it’s a holistic approach encompassing ecological integrity, social inclusivity, and community resilience.

No one can tackle this challenge alone. It’s a team effort in collaboration with our communities. At the heart of it all is that the world benefits when businesses get up and go – when they engage with the world right outside their doors.


Our culture and everyday life at DHL are defined by the values we share.

Published: September 2023

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