Globe / climate

Accenture said its strategic investment in Arabesque S-Ray will strengthen the technology and management consulting major’s sustainability and analytics capabilities to enable clients to seek growth from sustainability. Based in Germany, Arabesque S-Ray is a leading global provider of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) data and insights, with a quantitative algorithmic approach that combines big data and ESG metrics to assess the performance of over 8,000 companies worldwide. 

"Sustainability transformation must be both technology-driven and linked to value to be successful. Creating shareholder value, while also tackling some of the world’s greatest challenges, requires rewiring the global economy with new levels of data, insights and action," said Peter Lacy, chief responsibility officer and global sustainability services lead at Accenture. 'S-Ray' data products and services are used by financial institutions, investors, corporations and consultants alike.

"We are pleased to expand our relationship with Arabesque S-Ray to help our clients lead with better decision making, more informed investment prioritisation, and accelerated realisation of overall business value from their sustainability efforts, goals and ambitions," Lacy added.

Accenture will draw on Arabesque S-Ray's big data and machine learning model capabilities that utilise more than four million ESG data points daily from over 30,000 sources. The pair also aims to develop new tools and methods for capturing, analysing and reporting ESG data.

This latest partnership mirrors similar recent deals made by other firms such as Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and Bain & Company, and signals a growing trend in the professional services sector to boost environmental, social and governance (ESG) credentials. Late last year, BCG formed a collaboration with Italian utility Eni and Google Cloud to launch a sustainability data platform specifically focused on helping companies on their journey of energy transition, while Bain has made a strategic investment in the French-based sustainability ratings provider EcoVadis and plans to integrate the ratings in its corporate strategy, supply chain and procurement offerings. The London-headquartered environmental & sustainability consultancy ERM is at the same time working with EcoVadis to provide guidance and training to help companies manage their sustainability risks and enhance their ESG rating scores. 

And last month, Environment Analyst reported on McKinsey & Co adding the 'Greenness of stimulus' index specialist Vivid Economics to its portfolio, an acquisition that also includes the Planetrics climate analytics suite (EA 16-Mar-21).

Moves such as these indicate the changing nature of sustainability within the consultancies' client businesses and also the growing crossover between consulting and data analytics. Environment Analyst has curated an Insight Briefing looking at how leading management and strategy consultants - including Accenture, Bain, BCG and KPMG - are stepping up a gear in the ESG, climate risk and sustainability space in response to the expanding drivers and opportunities.

Strategic members may download the full 11-page Insight Briefing pdf here

For nearly two decades, the majority of companies have viewed sustainability either as a form of communications or as a 'check-the-box' compliance exercise. Sustainability was a bolted on function that was tasked with making incremental performance improvements.

Today’s world, however, is very different as an increasing number of stakeholders, notably investors, customers and regulators, are calling upon businesses to take the lead on addressing environmental and social issues by helping to achieve the outcomes of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris climate agreement. Together, these two international frameworks have established the regulatory agenda for business that will only be intensified as a result of the climate emergency movement, the post-COVID recovery, COP26, and a new US administration that has identified climate change as a key priority. 

Perhaps, serving as a dress rehearsal for a climate catastrophe, the global pandemic is closing the door on business-as-usual approaches by exposing, to all, the vulnerabilities of global supply chains. Moreover, it has shifted investor focus towards ESG data in decision making. Thus, sustainability’s next frontier goes far beyond the communication of carbon emissions reduction in cumbersome reports and demands the ‘operationalisation’ of sustainable strategies and purpose. 

For most businesses, this is a completely different proposition and demands accurate data to better track, measure, and act on an ever-increasing range of sustainability initiatives. Thus, by taking steps to bolster their ESG credentials, consulting firms can then help their clients move from a mindset of ambition to action.

insight cover

To continue the debate on how ESG is impacting the consulting sector and its client industry verticals join us at the Environment Analyst Global Business Summit (June 2021, online).

Event banner