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The Newsletter | Edition 059


As concerns over companies’ social and environmental track records move from the streets to the board rooms, consulting companies are being called upon to provide guidance. But while the consulting industry is quick to show off its products and services related to social progress, its own internal practices remain under (too) little scrutiny. Beyond the odd exception, consultancies are not presently held to the same standards as the companies whose operations, actions, and long-term impact they are responsible for steering.

In our version of an impact report, A Developing Story: Self-Reflections of a Progress-Guided Consultancy, SYLVAIN contemplates this realization, and offers a framework for agencies and consultancies—including our own—to be held accountable to guiding progress.


Much to do. Little time to do it.
Given the distance we have to travel to arrive at real progress, and the rapidly dwindling time we have to get there, it is no longer morally acceptable for the consulting industry to remain mere bystanders to the clients it serves—much less to actively worsen our predicament.

Consultants big and small are being tapped to advise the world’s most influential companies on the most consequential aspects of their business: from re-imagining supply chains to infusing equity into corporate operations to concepting breakthrough products and services.

Our collective response will have tangible, long-term consequences for humanity.

Impact consulting is not a game to be won.
In response to this demand, consultancies have raced to provide impact solutions, despite the fact that they have little experience in implementing any of these solutions internally. Far too many are offering cookie-cutter ESG, DEI, and CSR advice, urging vastly different organizations with unique challenges and business models to embrace the same practices, metrics, and reporting structures. Such ineffective efforts ultimately harm clients and consumers, and breed cynicism that weakens the overall drive toward social and environmental progress.

By not adopting an aggressive, sincere approach to social and environmental progress, we are abdicating our most elemental responsibility to society, our clients, and our own humanity.


As a brand looking to engage a consultancy:

Prioritize partners whose qualifications include a robust commitment to their own internal progress.

As a consultancy:

Consider crafting your own approach to operating as a progress-guided organization.*

*And consider using our report as a starting point


The heart of A Developing Story: Self-Reflections of a Progress-Guided Consultancy is a framework we designed to help us assess our own progress. It centers on five character traits—Justness, Openness, Compassion, Discernment, and Consistency—which we believe are essential to being a progress-guided consultancy. Moving forward, these traits will serve as the guidelines against which we, SYLVAIN, will measure our performance year-on-year.

If you’re curious to learn more, check out the report here. In it, you’ll find an Accountability Workbook for (free) download, including a template and worksheet that we hope inspires your organization to craft a bespoke approach to operating as progress-guided.

And as always, we welcome your feedback. Please share your thoughts with us here, or by replying to this email.

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