Sustainability is part of our corporate DNA. When we created this firm back in 2009, we were determined to build something to last for generations to come. We defined stewardship as a principle guiding us to grow and develop the firm over the long term. Our governance model is based on true partnership, thereby reinforcing long-term stewardship. All of our Partners own shares in the firm as a whole, so they are focused on collective success rather than particular interests. All strategic decisions are also voted on, with each Partner having one vote, regardless of the Partner’s seniority, so the next generation of leaders has a say in the firm’s future early on.
Sustainability is also engraved in our core purpose as a firm: “We’re here to lead the way in helping our clients navigate change for lasting success.” From a people perspective, this means that “we encourage and enable people to be leaders and help build a better future.” But what do we have to show for it? What do we mean by a better future? And are we able to measure the impact we make? Again, I am proud to report the whole range of activities that emerge from our organization.
In 2015, we took an important step by focusing our social engagement on a goal that is aligned with who we are as consultants. We defined our social purpose as “the development and understanding of the human mind,” and created the BearingPoint Foundation, a virtual charitable organization, to deliver on this purpose. Specifically, we work with charities who transform people’s lives, enabling them to access education, grow their self-confidence, and achieve their potential by developing their IQs (Intelligence Quotient) and EQs (Emotional Quotient). We pledged to invest at least one percent of the firm’s annual profits through the Foundation by giving our time and expertise, raising and donating money, and providing our products and research.
While the BearingPoint Foundation is the centerpiece of our social engagement, there are more ways of how we exercise our responsibility of the sustainable development of our firm, our clients, and society as a whole. We break them down into three dimensions: economic, environmental, and social.
For us, it all started with the economic dimension. We believe that sustainability shouldn’t be just a label you put on a mature company without matching its way of doing business. We made stewardship one of our guiding principles right from the beginning. We are determined to develop our people and our capabilities in order to build a stronger, healthier, and wiser organization for the benefit of future generations of employees. This principle not only guides our partnership and our strategic decision-making, but it also applies to the way we do business. Our Standards of Business Conduct set rules of engagement with all our stakeholders. In addition, we established a Business Conduct Office so that our people can always get advice in case of complicated or new settings. Good governance and compliance with all laws and policies in our field of work is essential for sustaining our reputation as upstanding, ethical, and reliable partners. In 2017, we added a Supplier Code of Conduct to our contracts to make sure that our contractors comply with BearingPoint standards. We also offer sustainability services to our clients so that they can become more sustainable organizations. We not only advise on sustainability strategies, but also provide tools to assess which business processes clients need to transform. Examples include our Sustainability Stress Test and the Logistics Emissions Calculator, a software tool used to track carbon footprint. Conversely, some of our clients asked us to train our people in specific sustainability aspects when working on their projects. We happily complied with that and, in 2018, we will launch a program to train our people centrally on sustainability.
The environmental dimension of our sustainability activities is also rooted in the idea of stewardship. We call it environmental stewardship and not only made it a permanent feature of our Standards of Business Conduct, but also elaborated on it in a dedicated environmental-stewardship policy. Its purpose is to improve efficiency, to reduce waste in operations, and to address BearingPoint’s responsibility of being an exemplary global corporate citizen. Since environmental stewardship in a global organization is a complex issue, we established a Sustainability Working Group to recommend programs, projects, budgets, and resource commitments. Examples of how we reduce the environmental impact of our business processes include indirect lighting with motion detectors to save energy, use of water aerators to save water, separation of waste to support recycling, motivation of employees to work in a paperless way, and the use of teleconferences to reduce travel. In Germany, we managed to make our business travel climate neutral by reducing travel and buying CO2 certificates. Finally, we support the political shift towards renewable energy in Germany with economic incentives and intelligence. We sponsor the Energy Awards initiative of the German newspaper Handelsblatt and contribute to their Energy Academy think tank.
Our social engagement to support sustainability is focused on our social purpose through the BearingPoint Foundation. However, we also strongly believe that the development of our people is critical to our firm’s long-term success. As a result, we put a lot of resources into our leadership development and the concept of diversity. Just to give you a couple of hard figures: in 2017, 1,020 people attended our firm-wide training sessions and over 37,300 training hours were spent on firm-wide training sessions. We also responded to the growing need for more flexibility by adopting a series of standards such as part-time work, working from home, and “buying” additional holiday. Besides that, the firm set the ambitious target of having 20 percent female partners by 2020. Gender diversity is challenging and remains a priority for us. However, we aim to have a broader agenda to embrace all dimensions of diversity and inclusion. For example, we launched affinity networks in all our large offices under the sponsorship of senior leaders. These networks celebrate difference and shed light on groups sharing a common bond or background to determine an agenda based on which to engage with our leaders. In 2017, a Diversity Innovation Challenge was launched to collect ideas from our people on what the firm should do to be more diverse. This challenge turned out to be a tremendous success with 49 ideas generated in only three weeks, the all-time participation record for an idea campaign. We identified and rewarded the best ideas, and we will continuously implement the ideas generated during this challenge.