Sustainability & Social Impact
Leading good intentions to transformative impact.
The responsibility to build a better world is one we all share. Yet solving society’s toughest challenges requires radical shifts in how we think, work and act. We partner with corporations, brands, nonprofits, foundations and governments to drive sustainability and weave positive social impact into decision-making at all levels. Our focus is on addressing root causes, changing systems and moving towards a more regenerative, equitable future. This work is at the heart of our business and cuts across everything we do at APCO.
APCO Impact is an advisory group that sits within APCO Worldwide and supports clients across business, government and philanthropy. Our work helps clients be catalysts for progress and address the key issues of our time, including corporate purpose; ESG; climate and sustainability; racial and gender equity; and social justice. Our integrated approach to designing solutions to these complex and interconnected challenges is based on a foundational belief that in order to help clients achieve progress, change must be woven into decision-making across the entirety of an organization’s footprint.
It's in our roots.
APCO is the world’s largest independent and majority woman-owned advisory and advocacy communications firm. A passionate belief in breaking down barriers, challenging the status quo, and advancing equality has been in our DNA since our founding in 1984.
We were one of the first in our industry with a corporate responsibility practice. Decades later, we have colleagues in every corner of the world who today are trusted advisers to clients on the most pressing societal and environmental challenges. Our recent acquisitions of The Tembo Group and Global Philanthropy Group, organizations with deep expertise in management consulting and philanthropic strategy, further strengthens our bench of talent and bolster the one of the best impact and sustainability consulting firms in the industry.
APCO has been a member of the UN Global Compact since 2010, was named the 2022 CSR Leaders Winner for CSR Agency of the Year by PR News and has been named to the PRNews CSR A-List of top CSR consulting agencies every year since 2015.
Areas of focus
We are seeing a paradigm shift in corporate purpose. As the needs of the world grow, private sector leaders are asking soul-searching questions about the purpose of their business and prioritizing their responsibilities to their people and the communities they serve. Within this context, corporate citizenship is undergoing its own transformation, with companies reevaluating their role in larger social systems, reconfiguring their CSR, sustainability, HR and DEI priorities, and advocating publicly on the issues their employees, stakeholders and consumers care most about.
For 35 years, APCO has been a trusted advisor to some of the world’s largest and most influential companies. We help our clients design social impact strategies that are authentic to who they are, align their citizenship and philanthropic initiatives with their core business goals, tell a coherent story to the world about their core purpose and reason for being, and drive real impact in their communities on the issues they care most about.
This past year has changed everything. The needs of the world are outlined in stark relief and crisis upon crisis has upped the level of urgency, increasing scrutiny on stewards of financial resources and driving up pressure for change. Philanthropy has never faced as big a test, and nonprofits have never operated under such uncertainty amidst rapidly shifting resources and priorities. This moment presents an opportunity to reimagine the possibilities – shift longstanding power dynamics, center the voices of grantees and beneficiaries, and ignite new commitments, rapid innovation, and radical alliances that look across systems to address root causes.
We work with foundation and nonprofit clients to assess their strategies and structures to ensure they are built for purpose, to build programs and initiatives designed for impact, to adopt justice- and community-centered approaches that redistribute power into the hands of the people they seek to serve, and to tell their stories to drive awareness and change.
Today, every citizen, business and nation is confronted with the realities of the climate crisis and environmental degradation. As environmental leaders have declared, and the young people of the world are demanding, this is the decade of delivery – one where global commitments to climate change must be converted into bold and rapid action. For governments and companies alike, the opportunities to engage and lead the shift toward a zero-carbon future are growing, and the risks of lagging behind loom large.
We stay ahead of trends in the climate and sustainability landscape and help clients navigate an increasingly complex array of policies, players and platforms. From climate to oceans, energy to cities, we work with clients across sectors and around the world to understand, manage, engage and lead on solutions to address the climate crisis and contribute to climate resilience. And we bring an integrated lens, understanding that climate intersects with justice, poverty, inequality and a host of additional issues.
The business environment is being rocked by market forces, societal movements and quickly evolving policy shifts. We are at a tipping point, with Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) considerations driving substantive conversations across executive offices, board rooms and trading floors. CEOs are expected to lead on societal issues and embed ESG-driven practices and solutions into their business strategies, products, operations, and workforce. In this ESG revolution, market leadership, brand and enterprise value are at stake.
APCO offers a unique lens on ESG, with a team at the heart of the dynamically changing global environment. Our people have first-hand experience leading organizations grappling with significant ESG issues, developing policies to advance a more inclusive economy, and advising business and world leaders on shaping the global ESG agenda. APCO partners with clients to design, implement, measure and communicate their ESG journey so that it reflects their business, culture and ambitions. We also help our clients navigate an increasingly complex array of competitors, intermediaries, reporting agencies, platforms and partners.
We are at a defining moment in history. The COVID-19 pandemic and its economic fallout, and a global reckoning around racism and calls for social justice, have shone a spotlight on deeply entrenched inequities around the world. For many, this past year has erased decades of hard-fought gains and compounded structural barriers to progress. Racial justice, human rights, gender equity, LGBTQ+ equality, disability rights, indigenous rights and inclusion for all marginalized individuals are top of mind. And government, business and philanthropic leaders are being moved to internally and externally address their role and responsibility in perpetuating systemic inequities. As a global community, we will only truly advance equity by centering justice at the core of every decision, policy, practice and communication.
As the world’s largest majority woman-owned communications firm, a passionate belief in breaking down barriers that keep any individual from exercising their human rights and personal agency has been embedded in our DNA since our founding in 1984. We help organizations push beyond traditional approaches – centering equity and justice and identifying opportunities for structural and systemic change. We look to unearth old patterns of decision-making that are slowing progress, and transform cultural norms to unleash innovation, growth and belonging. We also support clients in building relationships with civil rights, human rights and social justice leaders to enrich their work and deepen their impact.