« Those who say it can't be done are usually interrupted by others doing it. » James Baldwin
« PIONEERING AGENCY
IN SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT »
Nº 1 IN CLASSIFICATION OF BEST AGENCIES
FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN FRANCE SINCE 2011
Nº 8 IN WORLD CLASSIFICATION OF
BEST CONSULTANTS FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT REPORTING
A way to gain a competitive edge, which beyond the prevention of risks, anticipates the expectations of society in order to imagine tomorrow's models and proposals.
A powerful force for the spirit of enterprise, for distinguishing brand and for innovation.
A cause that unites collaborators once again gives meaning to each person’s work and makes it possible to incorporate values into the daily routine (marketing, HR, R&D, purchasing…).
To advance the cause of sustainable development while encouraging the thoughtfulness of our clients on issues that we are passionate about.
To open the enterprise to its environment, through a convergent approach, keen knowledge of the issues in the sector and best practices, and listening to the most demanding stakeholders.
To provide theoretical and practical tools to support change in concrete terms, building on the particulars of the enterprise.
To put into practice, on a scale of our own, what we recommend to our clients. Utopies was the first firm to publish its own sustainable development report, as early as 2002.
Utopies makes a point of paying close attention to internal coherence by putting into practice the fundamental principals that we recommend to our clients. From office design to HR policy, as well as environmental policy, everything is put in place to make the office a veritable laboratory of our convictions. An internal barometer was even designed to evaluate staff satisfaction every year with regard to fifty items. Walk the talk!
|Grades||Gross annual fixed salary||Sector Benchmark ( Sustainable Orientation )|
|Direction||76 - 102 000 €||60 - 120 000 €|
|Management||60 - 68 000 €||45 - 70 000 €|
|Seniors||47 - 51 000 €||24 - 55 000 €|
|Consultants||35 - 40 000 €||20 - 40 000 €|
Our job is to help businesses (principally, even if we work with public players on an occasional basis) to integrate sustainable development into their strategy at all levels, from their mission statement to their range of products and services, including their internal operations and daily practices.
When we began in 1993, companies knew little about social and environmental questions related to sustainable development, and did not always understand well how it concerned their business activity. That is why we quickly developed activities (newsletter, conferences, consciousness-raising seminars, working groups, etc.) aimed at raising awareness and spreading inspirational good practices on the subject or in the given sector, etc. Throughout the development of our consulting activities, and to enhance them, we have continued to conduct complementary think-tank activities – because sustainable development issues are complex and are constantly evolving, which sustains the need for research and pedagogy. Through our publications, our working groups and our thematic conferences, we place particular emphasis on being at the forefront on emerging issues in matters of business strategy and sustainable development (go to the Think tank page).
Our consulting activities are varied: we take part in the company’s strategy, innovation processes, marketing, sustainable supply, reporting and measurement of non-financial performance, or even in the modes of dialogue with stakeholders – and in different sectors of activity (go to Consultancy page). Often, in order to redefine its strategy by integrating sustainability into it, the enterprise is more at ease if it does so with external support that is more capable of identifying blind spots, thinking “out-of-the-box”, being more capable of asking the difficult questions and of beginning the dialogue with certain external audiences to whom the enterprise is not used to talking. If we are to believe our clients, we also play a little bit the roles of “gadfly“ or “free and different” thinkers.
Some examples of what this may mean in concrete terms: it could be a matter of working on an innovative strategy and a cosmetic company’s products in order to reduce the environmental and health impacts, or also helping a business become aware of the issues related to the company’s disabled employees (it could be a matter of integrating the disabled, or of developing a proposal addressing the disabled), or even to help a real estate player to develop an ecological site from construction to operation, whether it is a shopping mall, a tourist site or an office building.
In concrete terms, the support that we offer is organized by Expertises (strategy, innovation, reporting, economic footprint, etc.), and can be deployed in numerous Sectors of activity (agro-business, construction, cosmetics and health, business and distribution, tourism, etc.). You can consult a more detailed description of our offerings in our commercial brochures, available in PDF on the Consultancy page.
Our consulting activity includes numerous project categories: definition of sustainable development processes, design of new business models, drafting of non-financial reports, execution of materiality matrixes, cartography of trends and emerging issues, organisation of stakeholder panels, organisation of sustainable innovation workshops, etc.
In concrete terms, the support that we offer is organised in Expertises (strategy, innovation, reporting, economic footprint, etc.), and can be deployed in numerous Sectors of activity (agro-business, construction, cosmetics and health, commerce and distribution, tourism, etc.). You can consult a more detailed description of our services in our commercial brochures, available in PDF on the Consultancy page.
Several points make us different from our competitors, who have a wide range of profiles (large strategy consultancy firms, thematic firms specialized for example in purchasing or HR, small independent firms, freelance consultants, etc.):
Utopies has worked since its beginning for more than a hundred different clients. The recent evolution of issues related to sustainable development and the heightened awareness at the highest level have modified the nature of our missions and the list of our clients. Pioneering small and medium sized enterprises that constituted the “traditional” clients of Utopies (Nature & découvertes, Ben and Jerry’s, etc.), have progressively given way to large international firms (Danone, Lafarge, Michelin, L’Oréal, Sodexo, etc.), whose changing requirements call upon new skills and a revitalized offer of services.
We also work, less frequently, for public players (e.g., Ministry of Sustainable Development, City of Paris, etc.) and for NGOs specialized in fair trade, solidarity or environment (e.g., CARE, WWF, Max Havelaar, etc.).
Finally, our interlocutors within companies are varied. Depending on the project, it could be top management as part of strategic support missions, the management of sustainable development or CSR on a variety of projects, the management of innovation, marketing or R&D on initiatives related to marketing and innovation, the management of communications for support on non-financial reporting or on dialogue with stakeholders, etc.
Utopies benefits from the professional diversity of its staff. Our consultants have varied backgrounds: engineering schools, business schools, political and social sciences, natural sciences, urban studies and many other fields.
At Utopies, one may as easily find a specialist in econometrics as an agro-food engineer or a former entrepreneur. Some consultants have a background in business (in functions as varied as those of CFO of an American firm or environmental manager for a large French hotel group), others have worked for NGOs (Greenpeace) or international institutions like the UN’s World Food Programme, and the majority have had international experiences, contributing to the open-mindedness of Utopies, which is one of our fundamental values.
Beyond their specific skills and their background, all “utopians” passed a demanding and selective hiring process: they had to demonstrate their abilities and their adaptation to the consulting world, but also their goodwill, their commitment and their motivation to sustainable development issues. Associate experts and high-skilled partners enrich this team: experienced professionals, recognized experts on specific topics, committed and creative, they are involved in our research and our missions. Discover them on the Team page.
Since its creation, Utopies has contributed to the promotion of the sustainable development agenda in France and abroad. As a result, we give great importance to our think tank activities: the publication of studies and position papers, the organisation of working groups and conferences, and the contribution to public policy on the subject. You may consult the details of these activities on the Think Tank page of our site.
This positioning nurtures our consulting activities and increases its value added: it allows us to be on the lookout for emerging trends, to constantly update our skills and our tools, and to offer new ideas to our clients.
Sustainable construction constitutes one interesting example of the synergy that may exist between consultancy and think tank. In 2003, Utopies organized a working group on sustainable construction (see here), which brought numerous players to the table, all up and down the supply chain (Bouygues Construction, Accor, Pierre & Vacances, BNP Paribas, Gaz de France…). At the time, most of these firms were not familiar with the subject, and the working group (which was renewed for several years) made it possible for them to gain skills concerning an issue that they didn’t know about. Today, sustainable construction is a central element of most corporate strategies of these firms, and the contribution of the working group, as well as numerous meetings between members and with external stakeholders, have helped them to structure their approach.
Our mission being to accelerate change and integration of sustainable development into company strategies, we are generally satisfied with our missions when…
When Elisabeth Laville and her associate undertook to create Utopies at the beginning of the 1990’s, a great number of players in the economic world welcomed the project with positive sentiments… but also with barely disguised doubts about the unrealistic nature or its utopian quality. It was in leaving one of these meetings the Elisabeth decided to call the project “Utopies,” as an allusion to this scepticism and as a way to assume the mantle of its unrealistic character. And of course, Utopies is a lot more inspirational than Laville Consulting or ELCG Consulting…isn’t it?!
Beyond these anecdotes, Utopies is also the choice of a name of commitment, reflecting our mission: to change business in order to change the world! After all, pioneering firms that inspired our beginnings (Nature & découvertes, The Body Shop, Patagonia, Ben & Jerry’s, Migros, etc.) all wanted to use the power of enterprise to transform society and the world… The utopic vision is thus what pulls them onward, it is what gives them the energy and the will to progress, even if perfection is not naturally part of this world, remaining always just out of reach for those seeking it. There are no “good” or “bad” businesses, even if by the evidence some are more advanced than others: it is a process of continuous improvement…. As the founder of Interface, Ray Anderson, said, “Sustainable development is a mountain to climb, a summit to reach, and we have only taken the first steps.” This being said, many consider Interface as a very advanced company!
And where it really matters, we chose to use the plural word “Utopies” because we believe that there is not a single utopia that is imposed upon all of us, nor a single way to get there. The paths are inherently many, they are dependent upon the culture of the company, its values, its activities, etc. It is up to each enterprise to find “its” path…
We are committed, since our beginning, to incorporate ourselves what we recommend to our clients. This exemplary nature is not total, far from it, obviously – but this commitment nonetheless made us worthy of being the first certified B CORPORATION in France. Here is an extract of what we are implementing: