What makes a sustainability leader? A look at award-winning consultancy, Given London

With the 2021 Sustainability Leaders Awards entry deadline approaching, this new feature series showcases the achievements of the 2020 winners and reveals their secrets to success. Up next: The winners of our Consultancy of the Year, Given London.

What makes a sustainability leader? A look at award-winning consultancy, Given London

Gudrun Cartwright

Given London’s unique approach to co-creating strategies hugely impressed our panel of judges. The firm works tirelessly to involve all key stakeholders when planning projects for clients, building trust, understanding and the mutual motivation needed to deliver progress against ambitious targets. As such, it offers an extensive on-boarding process to all new clients and has a great reputation for providing long-term support.

The spirit of co-creation runs through Given London’s internal layout as well as its client-facing work: there are no standard account managers. Instead, clients deal directly with creatives, designers and strategists. This model is proven to help in rapport building; 75% of the business’ revenue in 2019 came from repeat business.

Clients which have benefitted from Given London’s expertise include IKEA, for its Life at Home campaign; Virgin Media, for its Switched On Families campaign; Nationwide, for its social investment strategy, and Anglian Water, for its behaviour change campaign. Each of these organisations has seen sizeable benefits from these campaigns – both in terms of reach and finances and in impacts across the environmental and social agenda. Nationwide’s campaign, for example, saw current account opening rates rise 30% year-on-year and three-quarters of employees sign up for volunteering, fundraising or payroll giving.

But Given London does not take on work with any and every business, as avoiding greenwashing is embedded in its DNA. It has a vetting procedure for every client it takes on to ensure that the aims and ambitions of the client and the team are aligned and that campaigns will have “real substance” in terms of claims and real-world impact. Businesses which aren’t aligned with Given London’s five key behaviours (taking responsibility; listening; sharing success; giving your best; being positive and making change happen) will not get contracts and Given turned down proposals on all of these grounds during 2019.

This ethos is reflected in the way staff engage with the business and with each other, on specific projects and beyond. Given London last year implemented a new people strategy designed to improve management,  wellbeing and culture. The firm also took a public stance last September by closing its office and giving all staff a day off for the climate strikes in the capital.

The fact that Given London is leading across all areas of the sustainability agenda is evidenced by the fact that it recently achieved B-Corp status. B-Corp assesses progress across a broad range of topics relating to governance, environmental impact, worker treatment, community engagement and work with customers.  

Our panel of judges concluded that Given London has consistently delivered “significant results for their clients’ sustainability ambitions” and that its methods of engaging the public on behaviour change in the name of sustainability are an example of best-practice in this field.

Are you our next winner?

Now entering their 14th year for 2021, the RSA-accredited Sustainability Leaders Awards are a unique opportunity to shout about the achievements you and your company have made during this challenging year. 

In a digital event on 3 February 2021, entrants will get the chance to celebrate virtually with leaders from across the sustainability, CSR and energy space. Some exciting new categories have been added for 2021 to recognise excellence across the spectrum of sustainable business. 

The 2021 Sustainability Leaders are now OPEN for entries. The entry deadline is Friday 30 October 2020, so don’t miss your chance to get the recognition you deserve. The Awards will then take place virtually on the night of Wednesday 3 February 2021.


edie Staff

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie