Our Approach

Constructive Discomfort

If you need an advisory firm to help promote your good deeds and to nod approvingly, then we would politely suggest looking elsewhere.

We assume that when you seek external assistance you’re not looking for someone who will make you feel good about your company’s activities. You’re looking to improve. And to improve beyond minor incremental advances, you need to venture outside your comfort zone. Asking the tough questions, having uncomfortable conversations, and identifying real problems and workable solutions can only lead to continual improvement.

We challenge our clients to uncover their weaknesses – to be honest with themselves. It’s hard to admit to shortcomings, but it’s an essential step to becoming a more responsible organization.

The reporting process requires transparency. With public disclosure comes public scrutiny. It’s often easier practicing being open internally before presenting your performance, warts and all, externally. By proactively and candidly discussing contentious issues, you control the message, instead of having to respond on the defensive.

We bring to the table a diversity of thought, and experience in government and civil society. We’re well connected to a broad spectrum of stakeholders. We’ll let you know what others think of you now and might think of you should you adopt a specific course of action. We’ll let you know where we think you need to improve and where you might be exposed.

We know that improvement comes from having challenging conversations.

Our Approach

Over the past thirteen years Responsibility Matters has had success in collaborating with companies and other leading institutions in the pursuit of becoming more responsible and sustainable organizations. However, in a world with escalating population, inequity, and demands on natural resources, there’s no time to waste.

We realize that clients value our advisory services, but we also understand that organizational structures and objectives sometimes don’t enable change at an appropriate rate, or at all. To really effect change, we need to be firing on more than one cylinder. We need to capitalize on all the avenues available to us.

Responsibility Matters has added advocacy to our means of effecting change. We will no longer sit by quietly when we know that a few well-placed critiques and well-timed prods can accelerate change.

Our three-pronged approach to increasing organizational responsibility includes: 

  • Working with clients.
  • Collaborating with leading companies, research institutes, investors, non-profits, advocates, and others on innovative initiatives.
  • Independently identifying practices that need improvement and highlighting them in the media or with other parties. 

Here’s how we work with our clients:

  • We offer sustainability advisory services, largely with the help of experienced and innovative associates. Our Chief Executive, Mark Brownlie, provides project management guidance and related strategic advisory services, while our associates address project details and operational aspects.
  • To achieve significant change, we enter into candid conversations that create constructive discomfort. Only by mutually venturing outside our comfort zones will we be able to find solutions to the big issues.
  • When we commit to assisting a client through advisory services, we work diligently and collaboratively to advance sustainability within the organization. We do not play both sides of the coin, and advise in full view, while out of view we disparage or campaign against a client.
  • If after some time we determine that our advisory services are not having the desired impact with a client, we will clearly inform them that we plan to focus our efforts elsewhere.

Independently, we also identify and highlight organizational shortcomings, opacity, and greenwash when we see it. We will initially approach the organization in question and explain our position, expectations and solutions. If there is a willingness to take goodwill efforts to change, we will have achieved our objectives. If not, we will work with media, think tanks and advocates to get our message out widely.

Corporations and non-profits have a significant role to play in ensuring a transition to a more equitable society that balances people, prosperity and planet. We work with organizations to become more like the real people that populate them.