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Abt’s leadership in sustainable business began nearly 60 years ago, when founder Clark Abt pioneered the concept of a “social audit” for business. The impact measurement methodology quantified the benefits Abt operations create for employees, society, and the environment. Since then, sustainability and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) management and continuous improvement have been baked into our DNA.

Leading in Sustainability

In March 2023, Abt became the first-ever company to earn the new sustainability certification designed for the professional services industry. The NSF/ANSI 391.1: General Sustainability Assessment Criteria for Professional Services standard certifies professional service organizations based on environmental, social, economic, and sustainable supply chain criteria. Abt earned the highest “Leadership” level certification for transparency and exemplifying sustainability management in the market. “We are thrilled and honored to be the first organization certified under this new standard, demonstrating Abt’s longstanding commitment and leadership in the sector to integrate sustainable practices and policies across our global operations,” said Abt President and CEO Kathleen Flanagan.

Accredited by the American National Standards Institute, NSF facilitated the development of the standard at the request of stakeholders—including U.S. federal agencies—to raise the corporate performance profile of the professional services industry. Abt tracked development of the certification following the launch of the standard in 2019 and in 2022 entered a pilot to test the inaugural certification.

Prerequisite criteria for certification include, among other criteria, documented ethical business, human rights, and labor policies; a publicly available environmental policy; integrated sustainability principles and practices in the company’s code of conduct; demonstrated greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions; a commitment to support nonprofit organizations and/or provide pro bono services; and policies to implement supplier diversity and increase spending with diverse suppliers.

The work that enabled Abt to achieve this certification positions us to meet and exceed climate and ESG-related criteria increasingly required by clients. This includes the Biden Administration’s establishment of sustainability-related goals and climate mandates for each federal agency such as mandatory compliance rules for procurement. With our long experience, we find ourselves positioned to be ready for these mandates and continue to lead on ESG integration and climate action.

Code of Conduct

In 2022, Abt updated our Code of Conduct to shift from an emphasis on corporate actions to a focus on employee behavior. The message: act with integrity and do no harm. This applies to all those with whom we engage: colleagues, clients, and the communities with whom we work.

All Abt employees are responsible for doing their part to create and ensure a safe working environment free from harassment and misconduct. Ensuring the physical, psychological, and emotional safety of our staff and the community partners with whom we work is paramount. Our employees know that they must report all incidents promptly to supervisors or to the Legal or Human Resources teams. Employees have Abt’s pledge to provide a survivor-centered, trauma-informed response to all reported incidents, particularly during investigations into safeguarding violations.

Safeguarding refers to preventing and responding to harm caused by our organization or our partners to the people working in the organization and the people whom we serve. To promote the safety of our staff and community partners, we enhanced our global safeguarding processes and procedures, including a new expanded safeguarding policy. The likelihood of exploitation or abuse increases when individuals are in a vulnerable situation and where unequal power dynamics exist. Abt’s commitment to safeguarding includes protecting staff from harm and inappropriate behavior, including discrimination, bullying, or harassment. Our policies also are designed to prevent and respond to harm, including sexual exploitation, abuse, and harassment, caused by our organization to the people we serve. These policies reinforce Abt’s commitment to meet the standards of preventing and responding to harm.

Our Code of Conduct is a guide to working ethically and honestly in our highly regulated business environment. We are accountable for our choices and actions. We honor our commitments. "At Abt, we do the right thing even when no one is looking,” says General Counsel Brian Roemer. “Our values demand it, and it's part of our mission."

Continuous Improvement

Three years ago, we made a decision to strengthen and fortify our international operations through business process management and continuous improvement. Abt institutionalized a Business Process Management (BPM) Framework, Playbook, and Toolkit to provide consistency and standardization across our operational processes. These resources have been designed to build BPM skills across the organization and are available to all staff, especially department leaders, who use the tools to design and manage their processes. The Toolkit includes 26 BPM resources to document, improve, and optimize operations and enable transparency, accountability, and role clarity across our work. This will make it easier to work at Abt for our project teams globally.

Abt’s BPM Team facilitates business process design efforts within functions such as Human Resources, Procurement, Grants, Finance, and other groups. With the focus on optimizations and improvement, the process design teams, and functional leadership are required to identify, capture, and communicate process performance metrics to become more data-oriented. We always ask, “What If?” for our clients. Now we’re asking that of ourselves. The results will improve our international internal operations, and that in turn will improve the way we do our work for our clients and their partners: a win for everyone.

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