Consultants Talk Green: We Are Rather Friedmanite About This

Consultants Talk Green: We Are Rather Friedmanite About This

Every year Vault conducts employee surveys to rank firms and companies by industry according to various standards including diversity, prestige, work/life culture, salary, etc. Last year, we added a short section on green, i.e., energy conservation, recycling, environmental friendliness and workplace safety, in the survey, hoping to get a glimpse into what companies were doing toward becoming ecologically friendly. We're currently in the middle of our 2010 Top Consulting Firms Survey.

These differ distinctly from the law community in not only their consciousness but also their very linear view of what purport as green initiatives. Those of you who read the ones I culled from the Top 100 Law Firm Survey will recall the responses as alternatively smug and trivial. The responses from the nations top consulting firms, however, carry a broader range, stretching from proud ownership of their firm's sustainability efforts to outright irrelevance. And some smugness as well. But it does seem like consultants just might be more open to breathing cleaner air than lawyers. Who would have thought. So without further ado, here are some of the best.

Green? Irrelevant for Consulting Firms

"A few small initiatives, but green is a relatively new word around here."

"Does this matter?"

"Environmentally friendly in the consulting business? Irrelevant issue."

"I don't at all see how this could be relevant, and if it became a priority at my firm I would seek employment elsewhere."

"I fly across the country every week. Need I say more?"

"Question not relevant."

"See HR for details."


Paying lip service to the environment

"They do very little...our bananas come individually wrapped in plastic."

"A lot of lip service and attempts—but at the end of the day we fly every week. Twice a week."

"All lip service—they encourage employees to inconvenience themselves, then the firm takes credit."

"Doesn't appear to be a priority. Office only does paper recycling. No recycling of plastic and bottles. Office is not environmentally friendly with respect to energy use."

"We are rather Friedmanite about this."

"Encouraged to think before we print."

"The forks and knives dissolve as you are eating. The cups will leak if you leave them on your desk over night."

"We are now starting to pay lip service to being green or sustainable, but it's not been part of the culture until it started being politically correct to do so."


Consultants can TALK Green

"Lots of talk about sustainability but little action. The partners had a retreat in the desert where they rode around in Hummers then came back and preached about the firm's commitment to being green."

"We talk a good game, but we don't practice what we preach."

"I don't know if we have any commitment. I hope it's low and doesn't cost us much."

"We talk a good game, but when you actually observe our work centers there is nothing particularly green about the firm."


Green Initiatives in the Workplace

"...has committed to being the first consulting firm that is carbon neutral. We are also developing both client offerings to address sustainability and developing alternative delivery models to reduce carbon footprint. Additionally, many of the offices in North America are remodeling in order to be more environmentally friendly."

" ...attempts to locate its offices in LEED certified buildings, have strict policies on recycling, encourage video conferencing or telecommuting where possible and work with our clients on issues related to sustainability."

"Getting better...we had a new greening initiative just this year to reduce energy and plastic consumables consumption. This came about through an employee-sponsored program in which new initiatives are encouraged and sanctioned an example of one way that we empower our employees."

"My firm is very environmentally conscious. We use biodegradable corn drinking cups and our office received Camelbak reusable water bottles to eliminate the use of plastic water bottles. My firm has a company-wide Green Team, with representatives and teams in each office. My firm supports eco-friendly transportation and provides subsidized bus/train/metro passes."

"Our firm promotes flex travel schedules and telecommuting whenever possible. We have started using TelePresence technology to hold virtual meetings, which really cut down on the amount of travel. Our firm also purchases carbon offsets to compensate for the airline miles that we travel."

"Strong policies, driven from CEO (who is European, so not surprising...). Travel policies promote rail over air and are hardwired into the travel system. Printing policies are double-sided two slides per page and this is controlled by IT, not the user. Recycling policies in all offices. New office in LEED Gold certified building."

"Very progressive; also willing to invest (which is a big plus)."


Aman Singh is the CSR Editor at, where she focuses on how corporate diversity practices and sustainability translate into recruitment and strategic development. Her blog, In Good Company, discusses on many of these issues.