4 Steps to Take to Build a Sustainable Consulting Firm

July 08, 2022

TwitterTweet it:'Learn about the 4 steps that consulting leaders can take to start being more sustainable and profitable at the same time'

The sustainability consulting market is projected to grow to $16 billion by 2027. Consultancies looking to build their revenue base would be wise to dedicate resources towards developing a sustainability practice. EFCG advises that consulting firms looking to grow their footprint should dedicate resources toward developing a sustainability practice which will ultimately build their revenue base and improve their bottom line. Megan Miller, Director of Product Marketing here at Deltek, recently moderated a webinar with Andreas Georgoulias, Director of Sustainability and ESG at EFCG, where they discussed key initiatives leaders should be considering when building their sustainability practice.

Andreas lead the discussion, mentioning that he’s not surprised that sustainability has been a driving force in the industry, and that’s why many firms have been delivering sustainable projects for decades now. In fact, over 50% of webinar attendess stated that they already have a sustainability practice in place or have recently begun building one out.

Building a Sustainable Consulting Firm

From these results, we see that building sustainability practices are a top-of-mind initiative for firms. With that in mind, here are the 4 steps that consulting leaders can take to start being more sustainable and profitable at the same time:

4 Steps to Take to Build a Sustainable Consulting Firm

1. Identify the role of a sustainability leader

According to EFCG, 45% of firms have appointed an ESG lead. Andreas recommends that this should be the first step your firm takes when building out a sustainability practice. If your company is looking to offer sustainability services, then you should look for someone with high consulting capabilities who can bring together different disciplines and explain to the client how projects and services meet the major challenges being faced today.

On the other hand, if your firm receives client requests to implement an internal reporting system on ESG, then the sustainability leader should be an integrator across different departments and divisions, being able to process various sets of information and data to produce the sustainability profile of the firm.

In many cases, these two approaches can merge by having one person receiving client requests, as well as, representing what the firm is doing internally on sustainability. The direction you take all depends on what your company wants to achieve.

2. Establish a framework for sustainability

Sustainability has moved beyond environmental aspects only, and is now more of an integral part of business strategy and the social dimensions of many firms. Firms need to be thinking about sustainability in terms of what it means for the projects they are working on and what they are looking to accomplish internally as well as externally.

To begin start by looking at what your firm is doing around these social stances:

  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
  • Health, Safety, and Wellness of Employees
  • Promoting Wellness of the Community
  • Managing Risks
  • Expressing Policies on Business Ethics
  • Fair and Equal Pay

The key to building a successful profitability practice lies in the data and the ability to track your initiatives. These sustainability capabilities need to be measured, tracked, benchmarked and reported. As Megan put it, “they can’t simply be words on a wall.”


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3. Building out a profitable practice

EFCG advises that a sustainability practice should be kept simple and play an integral role in the firm’s business strategy. A firm does not need to have a full set of services on sustainability initially—start by identifying 5 key initiatives and grow from there. To be profitable and successful, firms should look at the services they offer, and consider what their clients are requesting. Building out a sustainability practice begins by uncovering what the firm can do today to help their clients meet their challenges whether they’re sustainable or operational. When chosing a strategy make sure to keep the skills of your current staff in mind. You may have talent already fluent in certain ares which can help keep costs down.

4. Implementing technology to improve efficiency

According to the recently published The Harris Poll Thought Leadership & Trends Practice, over 36% of organizations have measurement tools in place to quantify their sustainability efforts. In the second poll conducted during the webinar, these results proved to be true with 36.7% of respondents noting they had advanced tracking software in place.

Building a Sustainable Consulting Firm

In relation to sustainability, technology should be a part of the firm’s day-to-day operations, helping firms increase efficiencies and saving time on tasks that can be automated. Andreas expresses that technology is a key differentiator and with sustainability, it adds value in multiple ways. It can increase revenue, reduce cost, and enable faster collaboration without interfaces that can create barriers. Being able to manage risks and evaluate work, should eventually translate into a better profit. The most successful firms use more than just spreadsheets and online calculators. They have sustainability management and project management systems tied to their financial data to show true ROI.

To learn more about how to be sustainable and profitable at the same time…

Check out the on-demand webinar where Megan and Andreas did a deep dive into these 4 steps, and learn actionable takeaways your firm can implement today.

Read Next: 3 Benchmarks to Help with Consulting Firm Growth


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