Introducing Our Partner: Schlange & Co.

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··Introducing Our Partner: Schlange & Co.

You may have come across the terms sustainability and corporate social responsibility (CSR) before, but when talking about consulting, you may think of some more traditional areas of consulting, such as management consulting, strategic consulting or engineering consulting. However, phenomena like global warming and some tragic catastrophic events (e.g. clothing factory collapses in Bangladesh) involving multinational corporations have gradually made companies more aware of their social, economic and environmental responsibilities on all stakeholders and the society at large. And this is exactly when our partner Schlange & Co. comes into play.

Schlange & Co. or S&C is an international management consultancy situated in Hamburg and New York and specializing in Corporate Responsibility (CR) and sustainability related topics. They support companies with a variety of sustainability consulting services including strategy development and organization, implementation, responsible sourcing and supply chain management, defining performance indicators, stakeholder communication, as well as selecting, implementing, and operating CR software, and trainings. Their multidisciplinary team consisting of 20 CR experts have a strong experience of more than 25 years in the industry. The positive impact has been delivered already in more than 500 successful consulting projects in more than 15 countries.

S&C social consulting firm logo

We were extremely curious to ask our partner S&C more about what CSR and sustainability mean to their consulting company and how those issues are present in their everyday consulting business. Check what they answered to our questions below:

1. What does Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) mean to your consulting organization?

The concept of Corporate Social Responsibility originally covered in particular the social commitment of companies. With growing awareness and increasing demands on companies e.g. with regard to reporting obligation (see CSR-RUG), the concept of CSR gains in importance and increasingly includes further aspects of Corporate Responsibility (CR). 

By CR, S&C means a company’s responsibility for the impacts of its business operations on employees, the environment, the economy, and broader society – either through its own operations or along the entire supply chain and/or value chain. This includes compliance and accountability, responsibility in the core business and philanthropic and charitable engagement by the company.

2. Do the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) of the UN play role in your daily business. If yes, how?

Even though the SDGs primarily address governments, companies are encouraged to contribute to the achievement of the goals. In this context, the SDGs are increasingly integrated into strategy development and reporting. Furthermore, S&C conducted the Global Survey in 2019 with the objective to gather opinions and expectations on sustainability and the SDGs amongst individuals and representatives of companies, politics, academia and civil society in all countries of the world. Over 250 organizations have assisted distributing the Global Survey. In total approximately 27,000 people from 174 countries answered the Global Survey.

UN Sustainable Development Goals

3. Some may argue that an organization can be sustainable and socially responsible only at the cost of compensating profits. How do you make sure that an organization can be socially responsible, and yet, profitable at the same time?

In our opinion, Corporate (Social) Responsibility and sustainability are absolutely necessary in order to ensure the long-term success of a company. We believe its “good management practice” rather than an add-on. Stakeholders increasingly demand a systematic management of sustainability topics. Sustainability performance of businesses is increasingly being evaluated by the capital market. These ESG ratings have an impact on financing options. A poor handling of these topics can therefore have an impact on profitability and can jeopardize the license to operate. 

4. What are some different ways to measure whether a project has been socially, environmentally or sustainably successful? (Aside from financial terms)

After companies have initiated measures in recent years to anchor CR and sustainability in processes and value chains impact measurement is becoming increasingly relevant. A prerequisite for impact and progress assessments is a robust indicator system and responsibilities for regular data collection and evaluation. 

There are several tools and approaches for impact assessment developed by business and science covering a wide range of impacts. The IOOI model is a concept for measuring social and environmental impact. This model splits effect correlations into input, output, outcome and impacts and thus enables a differentiated consideration of impacts.

Consultants working on a project

5. Based on your extensive experience in the industry: what are some typical CSR issues that organizations often need your help with?

There are various challenges with which companies contact us. Recurring tasks are materiality assessments to prioritize CR and sustainability topics, strategic target setting and KPI development, and the preparation of credible CR/CSR/Sustainability reports. Many requests relate to supply chain challenges as stakeholders expect companies to create transparency with regard to risks and chances and to ensure compliance with environmental, social, and anti-corruption standards in upstream processes. As mentioned above impact and/or progress measurements are becoming more and more relevant. This is also reflected in the inquiries of our customers. The focus of the inquiries is not on financial aspects but on social and environmental impacts.

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