Social impact consulting has been a fast-growing sector within management consulting since the early 2000’s. Firms working in this area respond to some of today’s greatest social concerns, including climate change and economic inequality. Read on as we define and explore this consulting sector – let’s get started!
What Is Social Impact Consulting?
We’ll start by answering the question, “What is social impact consulting?” It is consulting for social enterprises, companies, and foundations that are focused on social impact initiatives. This type of consulting often exists to improve the efficiency of social impact initiatives, thereby maximizing the good that organizations do for society. Firms commonly take on projects that include impact evaluation, performance evaluation, and capacity building.
Social Impact Consulting Firms
For those interested in the area, there are an increasing number of firms devoted solely to social impact, as well as traditional strategy consulting firms with separate social impact practices. Below, we’ve listed a number of the top consulting firms in the space.
KPMG Social Impact Consulting
KPMG has a Climate Change and Sustainability sector which undertakes social impact consulting. Services offered include environmental impact assessments; carbon measurement, reporting and compliance; and environmental due diligence and compliance. KPMG works on ESG (environmental, societal, and governance), human rights, and social impact projects.
FSG, A Global Social Impact Consulting Firm
FSG is a global social impact consulting firm founded in 2000 by Harvard Business School Professor Michael E. Porter and Mark Kramer. The firm’s mission to help foundations make more impact per dollar spent. FSG has worked with The Kresge Foundation, the Toyota Mobility Foundation, General Mills, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
The Bridgespan Group
The Bridgespan Group is a social impact consulting firm founded by two former Bain employees in 2000. Since opening its first office in Boston, the firm now has offices in New York, San Francisco, Johannesburg, and Mumbai. Bridgespan works with donors, investors, and non-profits in a variety of areas within social impact consulting.
Deloitte Social Impact Consulting Practice
The Deloitte social impact consulting practice focuses on the areas of health and wellbeing, energy and environment, societal resilience, opportunity, and accessibility. The practice works with clients in the public, private and social sectors on a global scale.
PwC Social Impact Consulting
PwC does not have a practice devoted to social impact consulting. Instead, it has a Climate and Sustainability practice, which takes on projects including ESG assessments and strategic sustainability.
Bain Social Impact Consulting
Bain recently made a 10-year commitment to invest $1B in pro bono consulting services, many of which will be focused on social impact consulting. The firm also has a dedicated practice – Bain social impact consulting – that focuses on education, economic development, environment, and racial/social equity. Bain walks the talk – it was a founding partner of the Alliance to End Plastic Waste, a coalition of more than 40 global companies in the plastics supply chain that pledged $1.5B over five years to eliminate plastic waste.
Boston Consulting Group Social Impact
The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) social impact and sustainability practice works on projects related to climate change, sustainable finance and investing, economic development, global education, humanitarian response, sustainability, and more. BCG works with half of the firm’s largest clients on social impact projects, which included 700 projects in 2019 across 450 organizations. BCG investments have driven an impressive ~$2B in social impact consulting since 2010.
EY Social Impact Consulting
At EY, the Sustainable Impact Hub provides insights to organizations interested in creating impact. EY Climate Change and Sustainability Services helps organizations assess and respond to ESG issues. Focus areas include sustainability and supply chain advisory, non financial reporting advisory and assurance, outcomes measurement, climate change and environment, health and safety.
McKinsey Social Impact Consulting
McKinsey social impact consulting boasts an impressive and influential set of clients on an international scale. This practice includes 520 area experts serving 105 countries and 375 government agencies. Focus areas include cities and infrastructure, education, public finance, public health and philanthropy.
Social Impact Consulting Internships
While the major consulting firms offer generalist summer internships, there are also internship opportunities available specific to social impact consulting. The best way to find specific internship opportunities is to network with current consultants – at your level – inside of the specific practice area.
Some firms will have internship opportunities available, and some won’t. For example, Social Impact, a global development and management firm, regularly recruits interns. We expect more internship opportunities to be made available as social impact consulting grows in popularity and size.
Social Impact Consulting Careers
Social impact consulting careers offer a post-MBA salary starting in the low six figures. This is not as high as other practice areas within management consulting, but compared to many industry roles, still very competitive. In addition, for most folks looking to enter this more altruistic world of consulting, compensation likely isn’t the #1 motivator. Consultants at social impact companies like Bridgespan are promoted along a traditional consulting career path: consultant, manager, partner.
Social impact consulting is a growing field within consulting. A major pull is the added element of contributing to the greater good. If you believe in the power of business as a force for good, social impact consulting may be the perfect career for you!
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