One of the very first posts I wrote on this blog concerned the Big Four and what they were up to in terms of Corporate Responsibility (as most people, me included, referred to it back then – and as Ernst & Young still do!).
I’ve worked on a couple of projects with Big Four firms as clients – most recently an employer brand benchmark – and it’s fair to say that you tend to find yourself reaching for the cigarette papers, there’s that little separating them.
However, on a whim, I’ve been taking a quick mooch around their UK websites today and – on sustainability at least – it appears that PwC has stolen a clear march on the rest.
You don’t have to look very far to see the difference.
Far from finding it buried at the bottom of “Issues & Insights”, or subsumed still further under the massive umbrella of governance and reporting, sustainability’s right there in your face as a headline topic on the homepage.
So far, so different.
Dig a little deeper and it gets better – at least for folks of my persuasion…
In amongst the things you’d absolutely expect to see in a Big Four firm’s list of sustainability services, such as climate risk assessment and reporting and assurance, you’ll find a specific proposition concerning strategy support and employee engagement. Essentially, it’s about how to fully integrate sustainability into short-, medium- and long-term strategic plans and build employee support so they don’t just end up becoming an empty PR exercise – couched in terms of long-term value creation, not just risk management.
(Can you tell why I’m liking the cut of their jib?!)
Dig still further into who’s actually delivering all this stuff, and there’s more to like too…
Lead Partner, Geoff Lane, sits alongside the likes of Jonathon Porritt and Paul Gilding as a member of faculty on the Prince of Wales’ Business & Sustainability Programme at Cambridge University; and (according to his bio there) he heads an interdisciplinary team of some 40 people working full-time on sustainability-related projects.
All-in-all, whilst I can’t say for certain on the basis of such a cursory trawl, I’m willing to bet vital parts of my anatomy that that’s a breadth and depth of capability that few, if any, of the other Big Four firms are currently able to match.
And, if they can, then they need to raise their game on communicating it because PwC are giving sustainability top billing – and doing a fine job of it too.