Carbon neutral Bain & Co wins set of green awards

12 June 2018 Consulting.us

Big Three strategy consulting firm Bain & Co has won a pair of green awards for environmental responsibility. Now officially carbon neutral, the consultancy has been awarded for its success offsetting its carbon footprint by investing in sustainability initiatives across the planet.

For the seventh year running, top-tier management consulting firm Bain & Co has been named a 100% CarbonNeutral company by Natural Capital Partners. The Boston-headquartered firm was also awarded a gold rating by EcoVadis, which ranks the ethical and environmental impact of global corporations’ supply chains.

Natural Capital Partners is a carbon-offsetting company which helps clients reduce their carbon emissions and lessen the impact of their supply chain operations on the environment – particularly in areas of high biodiversity. Other partners include Sky and Microsoft. Bain is one of the few which have achieved carbon neutrality with such consistency over a significant time span.

Bain has 56 offices worldwide and unavoidably generates carbon emissions despite efforts on the ground to recycle and run its workspaces almost entirely on green energy. The firm calculates the emissions of every train trip, taxi ride, flight, hotel stay and rental car required of its consultants to visit client sites, and works to offset the sum of such unavoidable emissions by investing in dozens of sustainability initiatives around the globe.

The firm – which has thousands of consultants working in 36 countries – is able to demonstrate that the emissions it emits are more than offset by the good it brings through targeted carbon finance investments. Nor are the projects only in distant rainforests: Bain is, for example, heavily involved in ensuring that a methane capture site in the US continues to be economically viable.

This announcement comes on the heels of Bain & Company being named among the top five percent of companies globally for corporate responsibility by EcoVadis, the leading platform for environmental, social, and ethical performance ratings for global supply chains – which awarded Bain a gold rating this year.

Carbon neutral Bain & Co wins set of green awards

“Once again Bain & Company is recognized as a sustainability leader among global corporations,” said Steven Tallman, head of the firm’s global operations. “We are constantly exploring new ways to minimize our environmental footprint, tap into our people’s passions, and help our clients be better stewards of the environment.”

“The sustainability conversation is about more than box ticking for today’s C-suite,” said Jenny Davis-Peccoud, Bain’s head of Sustainability & Corporate Responsibility. “Corporate leaders see the direct impact issues like climate change, deforestation, and social injustice have on their supply chains, labor force, and customer base, and they view sustainability as a top business priority.”

Bain is also a member of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development – where it is joined by fellow MBB consultancy the Boston Consulting Group, energy consultancy innogy, and IT consulting giant Infosys.

Having an environmental clean sheet is financially smart for consulting firms eager to capitalize on clients’ growing demands for advice on sustainability and corporate responsibility. Energy consultancies with a focus on renewables are doing well, as evidenced by Partrac’s opening of its first US office in renewables hotspot Houston. German energy consultancy innogy is also expanding having recently launched in the US after successfully helping European utilities clients enter the 21st century.

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Business reporting increasingly focused on sustainable development goals

18 April 2019 Consulting.us

According to the prevailing scientific consensus, climate change, pollution and environmental degradation resulting from current economic models cannot be sustained without considerable effect on societies going forward. Purpose beyond profit is being expressed by businesses, while meeting global targets for sustainability is also being incorporated into wider business practices. Reporting on positive and negative business impacts remains poor, however.

The economy has, for decades, come first. The consequence of that mindset, particularly with poorly planned growth, has left future generations with large-scale problems. The scientific community has for decades warned of over-pollution and over-consumption, with many of the world’s largest businesses now grudgingly taking heed.

Climate change, biodiversity and waste are the current key issues, with the UN climate accord putting in place a maximum bound for human-induced warming. Loss of biodiversity and dealing with pollution remain major areas in which global protocols will be necessary to mitigate long-term negative impacts with little short-term gains.

While global-level, intergovernmental collective action will be necessary to transition to a sustainable economic model, the UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) are a key port of call for businesses seeking to meet current sustainability criteria for their activities. A new report from PwC, titled ‘Reporting with Purpose and Impact’, explores how effectively companies are meeting SDG reporting goals – which show the increasingly social and enviro-conscious public whether a company is meeting the sustainability goals in its operational footprint.

Responsible business reporting increasingly focused on SDG

One key indicator of good reporting is a clear statement of purpose for the business as a whole. Concentrating solely on shareholder profit could have a negative impact on the public perception of a company – particularly if that profit appears to come at the expense of SDG goals themselves. A statement that includes the wider positive impact of a company, as well as the ways in which it mitigates its externalities, are increasingly seen as a necessary tool to improve public perception.

As such, the report shows that companies that have a wider social purpose to their existence tend to have a better public perception and a wider licence to operate in society. The study found that 47% of companies had a clear statement of purpose that aligned with their core business, while 45% of companies failed to have a clear statement of purpose.

The study notes that though reporting has historically focused on key social and environmental metrics (such as CO2 emissions), new reporting standards look at the whole footprint of companies across their entire value and supply chains – including subsidiaries, contractors, and suppliers.

The fuller accounting explores the whole impact of their activity on society and the environment, which makes it considerably harder to hide the effect of their suppliers or subsidiaries, which could have considerable environmental impact – even though the parent company has in theory “reduced its emissions to zero.” Furthermore, positive achievements like reducing poverty or improving quality of life needs to be considered in light of the long-term sustainability of that achievement. 

In the end, analysis of FTSE 350 reporting finds that companies are not clearly reporting their impacts on the environment, are not aligning their stated purpose with their environmental outcomes, and are largely focusing only on positive aspects of their impact, rather than the less flattering whole.