Re_Set Co-Founder James Bidwell on consultants walking the talk in sustainability

05 July 2021 Consultancy.uk 3 min. read
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As the consulting industry pushes to improve its collective sustainability credentials, Re_Set Co-Founder James Bidwell has warned that it is not enough for firms to advise. According to the UK B Corp ambassador, professional services players also need to take action themselves.

I had the great pleasure recently of interviewing Chris Turner, the Executive Director of the B Corp movement in the UK. As I have said before here, while the number of companies signing up to B Corp is growing fast - 4,000 globally and 500 in the UK – progress is not fast enough. Moreover, how many consultancies are, themselves, B Corp accredited?

Let’s go even further. How many consultancies are working with organisations seeking to address climate change? At Re_Set, we have partnered with Rewilding Britain, the first and only country-wide organisation in Britain focused on rewilding to reverse climate change. Our partnership, which sees us giving up to 1% of our sales and sharing expertise and insights, forms part of a much wider initiative by Re_Set to build a coalition of global partners to accelerate change and importantly, give a platform to organisations tackling the climate crisis. Our business is genuinely aimed at making the world a better place.  We walk the talk and as our strap line says, we “Create a Better Future. Today.”

Why aren't more consulting firms in the UK a B Corp?

Going back to B Corp accreditation, what struck me when talking to Chris was when he shared that more than 100,000 companies are looking at becoming certified via the assessment tool. I wonder how many of those are consultancies, and whether any of them are the bigger consultancies? We have recently seen a flurry of activities from the big global consultancies announcing new sustainability practices, huge recruitment drives for ESG but somehow, they ring hollow. It seems like more of the same and that ESG is just another revenue line rather than a real commitment to tackle climate change and approach business as a “force for good” - which is the B Corp mantra.

Again, let’s go further. If any of the bigger consultancies looked to establish partnerships like our one with Rewilding Britain, we would have a coalition that can really contribute to reversing climate change. With this would come greater responsibility and accountability.

In our case, this is about committing to do more than simply advising. We at Re_Set are definitely prepared to say “No” to potential clients who don’t live up to the highest ethical standards, or who aren’t committed to making the change. We also look after our employees and there is no expectation of consistently long hours to make progress - a recurring complaint when I am interviewing from the bigger groups. 

All that means financial sacrifices for the Partners according to the old paradigm - although there is more and more research indicating that B Corps and value driven brands and consultancies are more valuable than those which operate with a financial only lens. Increasingly, enlightened CEOs and leadership teams seek out teams who really care.

Re_Set is a disruptor, a next generation consultancy for the next generation of businesses and teams who believe in making the change the world so desperately needs. As we move further into the transition economy I wonder if more consultancies will follow this path and act on their own advice?

James Bidwell is the co-founder of consulting firm Re_Set and is a UK B Corp Ambassador.