5 Service Providers Changing the Face of Sustainability

31 March 2022 by Jamie Ferguson
blog author

There has never been a more urgent call for businesses to act sustainably while possessing a high level of integrity. The face of the professional services industry is evolving and with this change comes innovation. Increasingly, companies are seeking pioneering strategies to tackle some of the more pressing environmental and social challenges inflicted by the modern world. Highlighted below are just a handful of the more interesting boutique consultancies tackling a host of sustainability challenges.

I have selected the following five companies because they each positively impact sustainability by providing innovative services and support to large, medium and small businesses worldwide. These companies engage in matters that affect real change and cut through the noise of ‘greenwash’.

1. The Unreasonable Group

The Unreasonable Group creates ‘fellowships’ with large businesses (such as Microsoft and Nike) and uses their resources, influence and power to solve sustainability issues across the globe.

The Colorado-based firm supports groundbreaking startups seeking to provide a solution to some of the world’s more pressing challenges by engaging with investors and creating fellowships to evoke change.

Strongly believing in the ‘unreasonable’ ethos (the company’s theory is that ‘reasonable’ ideas rarely change anything), the Unreasonable Group works to repurpose capitalism and as a result, is positively impacting the lives of more than 720 m people.

The Unreasonable Group’s fellowship was founded to focus on scaling up successful ventures and direct capital towards innovative companies that are tackling sustainability, by handpicking the world's most impactful growth-stage companies and exclusively inviting them into the Unreasonable fellowship. Select investors, mentors and partners are provided with the opportunity to create value in helping scale the ventures.

The group focuses on five key themes: Education, Energy & Environment, Food & Water, Heath and New Frontiers (supporting emerging markets and technologies).


2. Futerra

Led predominantly by women, Futerra is one of the UK’s first B-Corp certified organisations and has focused on high impact sustainable development for the past 20 years.

Referring to itself as a ‘change agency’, Futerra’s clients strive to transform the importance of sustainability in entrepreneurial opportunities and are creating purposeful and meaningful brands that demonstrate positive change through either environmental protection or social justice.

Tackling problems and being mission-focused is what fuels Futerra and it works to communicate companies’ handprints, which looks at the positive impact businesses have on the environment, rather than merely focusing on negative ‘footprints’.

With a head office in London, and operations in New York, Stockholm and Mexico City, the company also runs the Futerra Academy, offering sustainability training and development to help upskill organisations, covering a wealth of sustainability areas from ethical supply chains to transparency and greenwashing.

It also pushes sustainable products to market faster through its Products and Services Incubator, on the proviso the products and services are aligned to the 1.5-degree carbon pathway and meet consumer demand via a lower environmental impact.

3. Xynteo

This Norwegian advisory firm is purpose-driven and collaborates with the largest organisations in the world to help them flourish while helping to tackle global problems.

It conducts high impact work to create and grow innovative and regenerative business models, shape cultures and organisations to transform their mindsets and embrace cross-sector collaboration to tackle system changes.

With operations in Norway, the UK and India and satellite offices in the US and Australia, the business management consultancy makes gradual but steady and robust switches to companies to change the world. By helping leaders to alter behaviour and develop mindsets, the next natural progression is that their organisation changes, leading to a reshake and overhaul of systems.

Xynteo focuses on three missions, having analysed the critical areas requiring strong growth, to turn challenges into opportunities. These are Planet Positive Growth (i.e. reaching Net Zero), Inclusive Growth (i.e. enhancing culture) and Innovative Growth (i.e. pioneering products).

4. Johnson Controls

Buildings have a wide range of functions from housing, working and educating people, to providing entertainment, shopping and storage facilities but there’s no doubt they can be made smarter, via the advancement of digital solutions and specialist systems.

Johnson Controls utilizes innovation experience to steer the most important outcomes and ensure buildings have enhanced intelligence to make them safer with greater efficiency, more sustainability and required comfort.

From retrofit solutions (modernizing old buildings and upgrading them to a good-as-new standard) and exploring large scale solutions for optimal energy efficiency solutions, Johnson Controls uses its expertise to benefit the environment.

A smarter building is not only more desirable for the planet, it improves the operations of companies and the quality of life of the people employed too, allowing more time to focus on the business mission.

Johnson Controls, headquartered in Cork, Ireland, has been concentrating on making buildings smarter since 1885 through innovation, and now offers the world’s largest portfolio of building products, technologies, software and services to transform environments.

One service provided is HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) equipment, which should come as no surprise as the company founder Warren Johnson invented the first modern thermostat more than 100 years ago. The company also provides services in digital solutions, fire suppression, security, distributed energy stories and industrial refrigeration – ensuring all services offer maximum sustainable efficiency.


5. Provenance

Imagine a world where you know the impact of the products you purchase and can access the full history of that product from conception right through to the end market. This is the vision of Provenance, and the firm believes it’s fully achievable.

Provenance works with clients to showcase full transparency by communicating the story of their product clearly and concisely, to enable consumers to build a stronger trust in the brand and make more informed decisions.

One of the clients working with the London-based, female-founded firm is Napolina, the Italian cooking brand. The company wanted to share the progress it had made in tackling illegal labour in Italian agriculture with shoppers and industry stakeholders.

Provenance helped Napolina achieve its goal by transforming its supply chain data into a digital experience for consumers, via a QR code on more than three million cans of tomatoes

To prevent any greenwashing, every claim (which was achieved via Provenance’s bespoke technology and framework) was either backed by evidence or received third-party verification.

These are companies from my own research that are delivering impact where we need it most. I welcome other suggestions on consultancies that specialise in solving difficult problems and look forward to hearing about others that I could highlight in the future. Please get in contact via jamie.ferguson@acre.com

Jamie is an executive search consultant focused in the Tech, Media and Telecoms space.

Jamie has 3 years experience working with medical device manufacturers in the dental field. He has partnered and consulted for some of dentistry’s largest companies (Align Technology, Henry Schein, Straumann Group) and provided C-level executives for small and mid-sized brands.