Impact Assessment:

A rigorous look at SYLVAIN’S dedication to corporate responsibility, culture, and the greater good.

Executive Summary

In the year since we published A Developing Story: Self-Reflections of a Progress-Guided Consultancy, SYLVAIN has continued to grow — and to ask hard questions about that growth. What is the value of growth if it compromises our vision of progress? And what, exactly, is that vision anyway?

As we asked ourselves these questions, we continued to watch the global consulting industry operate as though the world weren’t changing. As a growing body of investigative reporting reminded us, the largest and most influential consultancies have gotten that way by focusing on shareholder value and executive compensation, with little regard for what, or who, is sacrificed to create that value. Yet we live in the age of increasing social impact, when a majority of consumers consider a brand’s sustainability credentials before buying a drink (Footprints Drinks Industry ESG Trends Report 2022), and one in four have changed products based on a brand’s ESG practices (Glow research, May 2022).

Against this backdrop, SYLVAIN decided that the time had come to institutionalize our dedication to being a progress-guided consultancy — and to define precisely what that means. We embarked on an audit of our business, expecting to discover that prioritizing something other than our bottom line would require us to slow our growth. We were delighted to discover that we were wrong: The bulk of SYLVAIN’s growth, it turned out, has always been driven by our progress-oriented work. And we already knew from experience that even clients for whom we were not doing work that directly benefited the greater good preferred to be in business with a company that has clear convictions and a moral compass.

Clearly, allowing our growth to distract us from our dedication to social progress would be a failure not just of morality, but of business strategy. The smartest path forward for SYLVAIN was to formalize our commitment to making a positive contribution to society by putting social impact at the heart of everything we do.

    That meant:
  • Defining our Progress Vision.
  • Implementing our Progress Pentagon, a tool that helps us quantify prospective business in terms of value, progress potential, and social impact.
  • Expanding the use of our Accountability Framework to track our progress and set goals.

This is the second edition of a SYLVAIN impact report, but our first attempt to use the tools we introduced last year to hold ourselves accountable and set goals for the year to come.

Not because we want to be a social impact consultancy, but because we want to be the consultancy for the age of social impact.





If 2022 taught us anything, it’s that growth does not always equal progress. In fact, getting bigger can make it harder to have the sort of impact on the world that you imagine. Even if positive impact is what fueled your growth in the first place.

SYLVAIN got bigger in 2022. We expanded our footprint, strengthened our offerings, and deepened our commitments. We became part of a larger collective. Along the way, we made some discoveries.

The bigger you become, the harder you must work to stay true to your ideals, do right by your employees, and have the impact you always imagined.

Instinct isn’t enough. Improvisation no longer cuts it. Game-time decisions come too late.

As it turns out, there is an inverse relationship between size and intent. The bigger you get, the less your intent matters, because your impact takes on a life of its own.

If SYLVAIN is going to remain a progress-guided consultancy, one that leverages the might of corporations to benefit the greater good, we need to systematize our approach so that it outlives us as people.

That means having a clearly defined vision of progress and the tools we can use to activate that vision. It means having methods to hold ourselves accountable to SYLVAIN’s highest ideals. Because those ideals are what got us this far.

In last year’s report, A Developing Story: Self-Reflections of a Progress-Guided Consultancy, we introduced our Accountability Framework, a measurement tool centered on five traits that we believe should characterize any purpose-driven consultancy: Just, Open, Compassionate, Discerning, and Consistent.

This report is our first comprehensive attempt to quantitatively measure SYLVAIN’s yearly performance against that framework and to establish it as a core part of our business.

In the chapters ahead, we more precisely define those traits and describe our methodology for measuring against them. We also define some of the terms we’ve long used to describe our values and introduce a tool that will help us stay true to them.

Because it’s clearer now than ever: Progress ≠ Growth. But maybe progress can result from:




An Industry (Still) at a Crossroads

For the consulting industry, a year of baby steps. Maybe it was just Baader–Meinhof phenomenon,01 but after we published last year’s version of an impact report, it suddenly felt as if every conversation we had with someone in a leadership position from another agency or independent consultancy eventually wound around to the same question: How do we make social impact a more central component of our business?


A fancy term for frequency bias, that thing where you start to notice something everywhere after noticing it for the first time.

As the year progressed, it became clear that it wasn’t just our imagination. More and more consultancies‚ both large and small, were rushing to declare their social and environmental bona fides, largely because more and more clients were making it known that they preferred to work with socially mindful businesses.

Given our industry’s size and track record, this trend could potentially have a significant global impact.

In 2022, the consulting industry was projected to reap nearly $1 trillion ($974 billion) in revenue—a 9.2% increase over 2021—by advising the world’s most powerful companies on the most consequential aspects of their business. With a footprint like that, every small step we take toward progress and accountability stands to improve lives on a global scale.

These small steps were easy to find last year. On the sustainability front, prominent consultancies asked tough questions about their own work with high-emissions companies, set ambitious decarbonization goals, and aggressively invested in their sustainability practices. Kearney became the first management consultancy with SBTi-approved net-zero targets; Boston Consulting Group acquired sustainability consultancy Quantis, and Accenture acquired climate change strategy consultancy Carbon Intelligence. Many also took significant steps to increase employee well-being, from implementing mental health programs and across-the-board salary increases to facilitating employee upskilling and introducing benefits for pets.

Clearly, there is a movement among even the largest consultancies to take seriously their role as good global citizens, to make the leap from being bystanders to being stewards.

However, given the magnitude of the challenges before us—many  of which consultancies have helped to create or exacerbate—even these encouraging signs seem painfully insufficient.

This past year brought shocking reminders of how quickly the rights we once took for granted could be stripped away; of how fragile our supply chains are, and how susceptible our economies are to their disruption and other factors, like inflation; of how vulnerable our children remain to gun violence; of how stressed and inequitable our healthcare systems have become; and how rapidly rising oceans and changing temperatures are threatening the very liveability of our planet.

We may think of the finance, technology, or energy industries as those with the greatest impact on the global socioeconomic landscape, but this view overlooks the vast and largely invisible impact of the advisors that influence them. For all the good consultancies can do, no industry has done more to elevate the capitalist appetite for profits and efficiency above the human need for a fair and functional economy, an equitable society, and a clean, liveable environment. We wield more power than we know, and certainly more than we deserve.

The journey of a thousand miles may begin with baby steps, but those steps must soon become giant leaps if our industry is to repair its reputation and become a force not just for profits, but for progress.

For SYLVAIN, a Year of Unprecedented Growth 

For a small consultancy, growth can come in many forms. In 2022, it sometimes felt as though SYLVAIN was experiencing all of them at once.

Powered by a strong first half—and only somewhat dampened by fears of a looming recession in the second half—SYLVAIN enjoyed significant growth in revenue and headcount last year.

Revenue and Employee Growth:

We also grew in unexpected ways. In May, SYLVAIN became part of kyu, a collective of like-minded independent creative consultancies that includes best-in-class companies like IDEO,  SYPartners, Kepler, and Gehl.

KYU & Sylvain:

For a company that has long prized its independence, this was not a deal we entered into lightly. To sum up our reasoning, we frequently referred to a proverb of unknown origin: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” For more about why we decided to join kyu, check out this article about the acquisition.

Some of our most significant 2022 growth came in terms of capabilities: Having strengthened our design department in 2021, we ventured beyond our strategy roots last year to produce creative work for several of our clients, including Kate Spade and MLS NEXT Pro. We also branched out by backing new side hustles, including the art/film practice of Senior Project Manager Tiffany Sia, who directed a short film (Never Rest/Unrest).


Ghosted by the American Dream at Adobe MAX and PopTech: We gave a presentation explaining the role that brands have played in the dissolution of the American Dream.

When Virtue is Weaponized at C2 Montreal and Web Summit: We spoke truth to power with a hard-hitting presentation that confronted brands about their increasingly transparent use of false virtue, and provided steps to stop weaponizing righteousness.


From Bystanders to Stewards at 4A’s Stratfest: At the advertising industry’s premiere gathering for strategists (and the CEOs who depend on them), we got honest about our path to publishing A Developing Story, what we learned along the way, and why other organizations may want to walk a similar path.

We expanded our presence—and hopefully our influence—through a renewed commitment to thought leadership, spurred in large part by last year’s impact report. Throughout the year, we seized opportunities to stand before members of our industry, and our clients, and encourage them to consider the true impact of their actions,02 while also providing actionable steps for reorienting themselves toward progress.03

We hired extensively in our operations department as we sought to impose more process and scalability amid our expansion (more on this below). We also hosted more internal programs, including trainings on gender-inclusivity, mental health awareness, and avoiding burnout.

Finally, we took on clients in new and unfamiliar industries, while continuing to maintain our 100% client retention rate—a point of enduring pride and gratitude for SYLVAIN.

All in all, 2022 was one of SYLVAIN’s most successful years, a satisfying affirmation that our unique vision and approach continues to resonate with a growing spectrum of clients and audiences. But it also challenged us to face some serious questions about growth, responsibility, and the role of values in a maturing business.




Balancing Responsibility and Growth

As any parent or pet owner can tell you, there’s nothing more dangerous than something that grows in size without also growing in maturity.


To provoke progress for organizations, people, and society at large.

As 2022 progressed, we became increasingly concerned that our growth could pose an obstacle to realizing our Founding Promise.04 The more that our headcount expanded, the harder it became to maintain close ties among leadership, departments, and each individual employee. New employees sometimes seemed unclear about our unspoken values, like what we meant by “progress-oriented consulting.”

Given these challenges, we decided it was time to better define—and commit to—our values and our vision. That meant developing an Impact Action Plan that would formalize SYLVAIN’s commitment to people-first, progress-oriented consulting.

We feared that formalizing such a commitment might require us to slow or even pause SYLVAIN’s growth. We were delighted to discover we were wrong.

Over the course of several months, a cross-departmental SYLVAIN team developed a 60-page Sustainability Action Plan (SAP) and Business Plan (BP) that provides a series of recommendations for SYLVAIN to continue our growth trajectory while simultaneously solidifying our commitment to social progress. Included in the report are thorough audits of SYLVAIN’s business, our culture, our environmental impact, and the current competitive landscape.

What these audits revealed was that SYLVAIN’s focus on social impact via innovation, strategy, and design is a key driver of—not a distraction to—the company’s growth.

In 2021, high-impact projects—those with the potential to promote human well-being through social or environmental progress—made up 35% of our revenue; in 2022, that number rose to 45%. These numbers are remarkable on their own, but even more so when one considers that they continued to rise, not fall, following 2020, the year when a global pandemic and a surge of corporate commitments to social and environmental goals spurred demand for high-impact work.

Clearly, this work is a vibrant and increasingly essential part of our business. And experience tells us that even clients for whom we are not doing high-impact work prefer to be in business with a company that has clear convictions and a moral compass. Allowing our growth to distract us from our hopes for social progress would be a failure not just of morality, but of business strategy as well.

Therefore, chief among this year’s report recommendations is that SYLVAIN lean more thoughtfully into progress-led consulting. Not to become a social impact consultancy, but to become the consultancy for the age of social impact. 

We will accomplish this through three separate but interdependent initiatives:


Articulate our Progress Vision.


Introduce the Progress Pentagon, a tool that allows us to evaluate projects for their progress potential.


Continue using the Accountability Framework to track our progress and set goals. 

Beyond leaning into progress-led consulting, the Impact Action Plan made three key strategic recommendations, which we will explore in Chapter 6. Integrating these recommendations will be a key priority for 2023.

In Chapter 3, we will introduce our Progress Vision and our Progress Pentagon. Along with the Accountability Framework, these tools will help SYLVAIN put progress at the heart of our business, and truly become the consultancy for the age of social impact.




Putting Progress in its Place

After years of calling SYLVAIN a progress-guided consultancy, we decided in 2022 to define exactly what that means. Below is our Progress Vision, in which we define what impact means to us. And our Progress Pentagon, the tool that helps us get there.

Our Progress Vision

SYLVAIN’s Progress Vision contextualizes our mission statement, drives implementation of social impact initiatives, and guides the evolution of all client services. We will use this vision to help us decide which clients and projects to take on, and also to steer clients toward solutions and ways of working that are progressive and pro-social. It will serve as a bedrock statement of principle as SYLVAIN continues to grow in size and, hopefully, maturity. 

Our Progress Vision

At SYLVAIN, we envision a world in which business, culture, and institutions are systemically biased toward human well-being. We are committed to building a human-first future, where the ideas that resonate, the brands that sell, and the choices that are rewarded relentlessly advance a more equitable and sustainable way of life.

In this world, organizations and the people who inhabit them operate in a mode of progress as defined by three constant practices.


Unceasing Self-Reflection

Objectively learning from both our triumphs and our missteps

Self-reflection is an indispensable aspect of self-improvement. Organizations must continually reflect on their own history and legacy, with as objective an eye as possible, to remain mindful of their impact and to avoid perpetuating injurious practices (i.e., “That’s how we’ve always done it”). Only through self-reflection can organizations positively iterate on their mission.

Continuous Renewal

Committing to mending the structures for which we are responsible

As organizations mature, they bear responsibility for the structures and systems they have established to achieve their growth. Organizations operating in a mode of progress commit to maintaining and evolving those structures in perpetuity, or to responsibly dismantling them. 

Constructive Generation

Effectively contributing solutions designed around collective benefit

Progress-oriented organizations do not seek profit and growth at the expense of human well-being. By designing solutions that are compatible with collective benefit, organizations can achieve sustainable growth that meaningfully contributes to a culture of mutual respect and prosperity.

The Progress Pentagon 

Any company with a conscience must occasionally decide whether it is willing to work with a client that goes against their values. And such decisions are rarely black and white. Can a PR agency ethically work with a tobacco company? What if the brief is to develop an anti-teenage-smoking campaign? Should a “progressive” law firm defend a fossil-fuel company if it’s being unjustly sued by climate activists?

Such questions are why we developed the Progress Pentagon. The Progress Pentagon is a diagnostic framework that helps us evaluate new-business leads objectively, consistently, and in line with our Progress Vision. Every incoming project is assessed using the five-dimensional scoring sheet below. Each dimension is broken down into various attributes and weighted by significance (for example, the Business score carries more weight than the Craft score). Ultimately, each project is awarded a score of 1 to 10 for each dimension, and those scores are added up to a final score that represents the project’s overall desirability.

The Progress Pentagon is not designed to produce a simple yes or no answer, but to evaluate the various dimensions of a project’s compatibility with our mission. For example, a project can score high on Impact but low on Business, or low on impact but high on Relationship. We then use these aggregate scores as part of a discussion to determine whether the project is, on balance, a good fit.

The Progress Pentagon

The Progress Pentagon is a diagnostic framework we developed to help qualify new business leads. Every incoming project is graded against five measures to determine how we approach the opportunity. 

Does it establish orstrengthen an existingrelationship?Does it make goodbusiness sense?Does it help make usbetter at our work?Does it stretch us toexplore new technologies,subcultures, or passions?Does it align with ourvalues, with potential topositively affect thebroader world?

By using the Progress Pentagon to help evaluate every potential client or project, we can be confident that our new-business decisions remain compatible with our values and social responsibility.




The Accountability Framework

The SYLVAIN Accountability Framework is the final piece of our mission to put progress at the heart of everything we do. As introduced in last year’s impact report, the Accountability Framework is a self-evaluation tool that consultancies can use to judge their performance relative to core values.

In 2022, we put the framework into action for the first time, and it has produced a roadmap to self-improvement that SYLVAIN will follow in 2023.

The Accountability Framework

The framework is divided into five traits — Just, Open, Compassionate, Discerning, and Consistent — that are further broken down into four to six components. The data for this year’s Accountability Framework came from four key stakeholder groups (employees, interns, freelancers, and clients) plus a team of employees dedicated to tracking internal metrics across the business. For more detail on how we compiled and analyzed this data, see the dropdown window below (warning: It gets a little complicated).

HOW TO READ THE Accountability Framework

Under each trait are several highlighted components. According to the data we collected, our performance relative to these components had the greatest impact on SYLVAIN in 2022 — for better or worse. In the following sections, we will focus on these components.

You will also see non-highlighted components under each trait. Our performance relative to these components was deemed satisfactory or low-impact for the year, and therefore will not be the subject of further discussion in this report.

Traits & Components


Adherence to a set of standards, applied equally throughout the organization, that guarantees equity, inclusion, and opportunity for all employees and stakeholders.

  • Equitable Representation
  • Active Inclusion
  • Substantive Growth
  • Accessible Leadership
  • Rightful Compensation
  • Nurtured Connection
  • OPEN

    A commitment to transparency, honest communication, and a work environment that is responsive to employee needs.

  • Unbounded IP
  • Diversified Input
  • Constant Iteration
  • Flexible Arrangements
  • Honest Communications
  • Compassionate

    Radical consideration of all people, communities, and ecosystems impacted by the company’s operations.

  • Employee Fulfillment
  • Discerning

    Thorough and formalized deliberation of every brief’s potential for societal harm or benefit, and alignment with company values.

  • Business Growth
  • Relationships & Influence
  • Impact/Progress Potential
  • Culture & Team Stimulation
  • craft Advancement
  • Consistent

    Systemized processes, workflows, and measurements around progress across all facets of the business.

  • Strategy
  • StructureS
  • Based on these results, we have developed four conclusions about our 2022 performance and how we can best make progress going forward. The next four sections present these primary conclusions, along with some key metrics used to track our progress.

    Conclusion 01:

    Embrace Interdependence

    From Going it Alone to Going Further Together

    Relevant Traits & Components:

    Just: Nurtured Connection
    Open: Unbounded IP, Flexible Arrangements
    Discerning: Relationships & Influence

    What we learned

    For 12 years, we were proud to thrive as an independent agency. We believed not only that we could go it alone, but that going it alone was the better option, a straighter and somehow more meaningful path to success.

    Like honesty and veganism, independence is a virtue that can turn sour when you let it define you.

    But 2022 repeatedly showed us the awesome power of interdependence. Becoming part of the kyu Collective meant collaborating with companies that always made us better. Presenting our thought leadership more frequently and on bigger stages expanded our professional orbit in meaningful ways. And we continue to be humbled by the faith of our clients, who somehow manage to increase in number without ever decreasing in loyalty. (Over 12 years, SYLVAIN has maintained a 100% client retention rate.)

    Over and over again, we’ve seen that the most gratifying path to success is the one you travel with like-minded companions. In 2023, we will further embrace interdependence.

    Relationships and Influence Score:

    This was assessed through the Progress Pentagon tool and our annual client survey. Relationships & Influence is always one of the highest-scoring points on the Progress Pentagon.

    Net Promoter Score:

    This was assessed through our annual client survey. When asked how likely they are to recommend our services to another organization, clients gave a perfect score 100% of the time.

    Conclusion 02:

    Bet on People

    Supporting Our People in the Ways They Need to Be Supported

    Relevant Traits & Components:

    Just: Equitable Representation
    Compassionate: Employee Fulfillment, Community Contribution, Consumer Care


    A combination of Jamaican patois (“Pon de” means “seize” or “take control of”) and Latin (“Humanitas” means “culture”).

    What we learned

    As a business, SYLVAIN’s best investments have always been in our people. In 2022, we doubled down on this approach by hiring more people than ever and devoting more resources to their development and well-being, like a higher culture and learning budget, more unbillable hours, sabbaticals, and flexible working arrangements.

    We also saw how our work is made better when we focus on the individual. By conducting qualitative research on a quantitative scale, we were able to glean more meaningful insights from a more diverse range of people. And the bulk of our high-impact work, the projects that increasingly define us as an organization, is focused on improving people’s lives. Our founding motto was Pon de Humanitas,05 which has always been core to what we deliver as a consultancy.

    But people are not commodities, so there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to investing in them or making them feel valued. We are working to better hear the voices of our own people and the communities we impact, so that we can be mindful of their perspectives and deliver the support they need when they need it.

    Investing in Employee Fulfillment:

    This was assessed through an annual employee survey. When asked questions that measure employee fulfillment, employees reported high overall satisfaction and psychological safety within SYLVAIN. They say that they feel they can express themselves without fear of being judged, and they feel free to speak up on any issue, even to the company’s leadership.

    Employee Growth:

    This was assessed through an annual employee survey. Employees responded to a number of questions about their satisfaction with their career paths and compensation by indicating they had a mixed understanding of how SYLVAIN managed such things. With an influx of new people and dramatic growth in 2022, we tried to pay attention to individual employee needs, but not always to our satisfaction. We must better support these needs in 2023.

    Elevating the Consumer Voice:

    This was assessed through an internal research project tracker. We tracked the number of projects in 2022 that required consumer research and expert interviews for intimate knowledge of specific cohorts. Although we do research for 100% of our projects, not all projects require research of this type. We always encourage it, and hope to do more in 2023.

    Conclusion 03:

    Codifying Values & Systems

    Calling a Truce with Process

    Relevant Traits & Components:

    Just: Equitable Representation
    Consistent: Purpose, Systems & Processes

    What we learned

    Stimulating progress for people, companies, and society at large has always been a core principle for SYLVAIN. But the ways in which we translated that principle into action were often a matter of instinct, due largely to our own innate resistance to process. In 2022, we began to overcome that resistance, building processes to ensure that our implicit principles are consistently manifested in our work. 

    By articulating and committing to a Progress Vision, we systematized what had always been a gut instinct, narrowing the gap between our intent and our impact.

    Our Impact Action Plan helped erase ambiguity about the nature of our business and clarified strategic priorities. We strengthened our commitment to diversity by introducing new hiring practices, and we did a better job of listening by conducting regular stakeholder interviews with interns, employees, freelancers, clients, and new hires

    Between joining kyu and our natural growth, it became clear that we needed a more operationalized approach to a wide range of processes if we were to continue running smoothly.

    We will continue throughout 2023 to embrace the power of process throughout all levels of the organization.

    NUMBER of SaaS platforms:

    In 2022, we implemented 15 new SaaS platforms to optimize our processes and structures in ways that accommodate the larger size of our team. These platforms include Harvest, Asana, Greenhouse, and Figma.


    In 2022, we applied the Progress Pentagon assessment to all inbound project requests and retainer requests. In total, we declined 13% of projects and accepted 69%. The declined projects were due in large part to a combination of factors, including lack of team bandwidth and alignment in personality and values. When combined with a lower impact score on the Progress Pentagon, these projects didn’t warrant a second look (more on that in Conclusion 4).

    Conclusion 04:

    Get Comfortable with Nuance

    It’s Easy to Judge, but Smarter to Listen

    Relevant Traits & Components:

    Discerning: Relationships & Influence, Impact or Progress Potential

    What we learned

    When polarization is the norm, righteousness is easy. But although it’s undeniable that hateful ideologies have increasingly found safe haven in the culture at large, it’s counterproductive to write off all those who aren’t fully aligned with our perspective. Not everything is black and white; right and wrong don’t always reveal themselves at first glance.

    Like much of the world over the past few years, we have at times indulged a tendency toward righteousness.

    But in 2022, we came to terms with the fact that most people—and projects—are neither fully praiseworthy nor deserving of scorn. Indeed, those that aren’t so easily categorized often have the highest potential for positive impact—a realization that helped us bring on more high-impact potential briefs than ever.

    Going forward, we are committing to getting comfortable with nuance, to doing a better job of judging every case on its merits and appreciating the nuance of character. We developed our Progress Pentagon, a diagnostic tool to help us qualify leads objectively, consistently, and in line with our mission. And we anchored our Vision for Progress in a set of behaviors, which will allow us to work with all types of clients—including those with a mixed record of social impact—as long as their intent and practices are progress oriented.

    Another area in which we are embracing nuance is talent development. We are creating new roles and growth plans based on people’s unique skills and interests. And, as always, we are committed to understanding the nuances of what employee well-being and growth truly mean on an individual level. We will continue to let our moral compass be our guide, refusing those who promote hateful ideologies, injustice, racial discrimination, or environmental degradation. But we will not allow righteousness to blind us to opportunities for progress.

    To quantify our commitment to nuance, we track employee feedback, projects we choose (and decline), and the intricacies of our hiring practices, growth paths, and creation of new roles.

    The following visualizations show the Progress Pentagon assessments for three anonymous case studies that show the most important of these metrics. We also show the number of 2022 projects that were highly nuanced, in that their impact potential wasn’t immediately clear, in comparison to the total number of projects completed.

    Progress Pentagon Assessments:

    The first project had the lowest score possible on impact potential (1). The second was a project that scored moderately on impact (5) but came from a brand that is largely regarded as progressive. And the last scored highly on impact (9), but the size of the organization made it difficult to gauge how much impact our work would ultimately have. For all three, we considered these nuances with much care and ultimately decided that we could re-orient the briefs toward much higher-impact potential than was obvious at the jump.

    Case Study 01Business8/10Relationships7/10Impact1/10Challenge8/10Craft8/10
    Case Study 02Business9/10Relationships10/10Impact5/10Challenge9/10Craft9/10
    Case Study 03Business9/10Relationships9/10Impact9/10Challenge9/10Craft9/10

    Out of 114 completed projects in 2022, these three stood out as having impact potential that wasn’t clear at first glance. They required dedicated navigation of project nuances to see where and how we could steer the briefs in a progress-oriented direction. Going into 2023, we’ll continue to treat projects like these with the utmost care, guiding clients in the ways we believe we can make the most impact.

    This doesn’t apply only when impact potential isn’t crystal clear, but also when it’s very clear. (We all know that projects can have a knack for veering off their expected course.)



    4 MIN READ

    What’s Next? 2023 Targets & Goals

    The early days of 2023 have already drawn a sharp contrast to the year we left behind. The momentum of 2022 has yielded to economic uncertainty amid industry layoffs, market volatility, and diminished forecasts.

    Nevertheless, we believe that the spirit of broad social awakening spurred by the events of 2020 is not so easily extinguished, and we are excited to continue building SYLVAIN around that animating force.

    As mentioned in Chapter 2, the Impact Action Plan we produced in 2022 generated a list of recommendations for continuing our growth trajectory while solidifying our commitment to social progress. By following the recommendations below, we will ensure that SYLVAIN continues its evolution to becoming the consultancy for the age of social impact.

    Our 2023 Commitments

    Create a Center of Excellence for Impact

    To fully disperse social impact consulting expertise throughout the organization, SYLVAIN will create a Center of Excellence (CoE) dedicated to the design, oversight, and management of all social impact efforts. The CoE will consist of a core cross-functional team of three directors, with all additional SYLVAIN employees contributing to its activities on a project basis. The CoE will be responsible for the development and oversight of the following initiatives.

    Optimize our Innovation Consulting Approaches to Be Impact-Centered

    If SYLVAIN is to better embody our focus on progress, we must incorporate impact KPIs throughout our innovation consulting work. In 2023, we will work to embed socio-environmental impact practices across all innovation project flows. 

    Repurpose Employee Volunteer Time Off to Create a Social Innovation Hub

    Since 2018, SYLVAIN has provided every employee with 2.5 days per year of Volunteer Time Off (VTO). This benefit was intended to make it easier for employees to give their time to organizations and causes they care about and to help our company contribute positively to the community. Based on current headcount, SYLVAIN had been donating the equivalent of a single employee’s entire work year to social impact activities beyond client work.

    But despite encouragement from leadership and seamless approval protocols, the large majority of VTO hours have gone unclaimed by employees, yielding little benefit to the company or other communities.

    In 2023, we will replace our current VTO program with a Social Innovation Hub that will oversee a single, company-wide, progress-centered project every year. Our goal is for each project to run over the course of six months and to result in tangible outputs with clear impact KPIs, ensuring that its scope yields substantial impact.

    Develop a Company-Wide Training Program

    With our Progress Vision in hand, we will develop an impact training program that will strengthen collective alignment around a common definition of “Progressive Innovation.”

    Through this training program, all SYLVAIN employees across experience levels will be equipped to embed social impact best practices and recommendations across all client projects—starting with innovation scopes. The distinct skills and perspectives that make up SYLVAIN will also be harnessed to generate new social impact-led products and solutions for clients.

    Continue to Innovate and Implement Tools for Impact Systemization

    The development of our Accountability Framework and Progress Pentagon have been major steps toward systemizing our approach to impact-oriented consulting. But such systemization must remain an ongoing pursuit. In 2023, we will continue to develop tools that operationalize our approach to social-impact consulting and reduce our dependence on instinct and individual opinions.



    1 MIN READ

    Asking More of Ourselves in 2023

    The goals, targets, and initiatives presented in this impact report represent SYLVAIN’s most ambitious agenda for a single year since our founding. And given the state of our industry and our world, that feels about right.

    More than ever before, the consulting industry is under pressure to stop aiding and abetting antisocial forces. Meanwhile, our culture is dangerously divided between those who want to keep striving for social progress and those who want finally to be rid of it, to instead resurrect some imagined past when people and businesses were better off asking less of each other.

    As we’ve seen in 2022, it is SYLVAIN’s focus on work that contributes to progress that has always fueled our growth, and we believe that focus will keep us growing in the future—and deliver a world in which business, culture, and institutions are systematically biased toward human well-being.

    Thank you for reading, and for playing an important role in our continuing efforts to be stewards, not bystanders.  

    We welcome your feedback. As always, please share your thoughts with us here.