Our mission permeates everything we do, especially the way in which we run our company. That means ethics and integrity come first. It means a culture of innovation—asking “what if?”—is fostered, and our people are given the respect and flexibility to bring their best versions of themselves to work, every day. It means we are intentional about stepping lightly on our shared planet, while making great leaps towards meeting our world’s greatest challenges.
In addition to the details below, for alignment with the Global Reporting Initiative Standards, the UN Global Compact and the Sustainable Development Goals, see our GRI Index.
As a global organization, we are committed to employing best practices throughout our business. We set our strategic priorities on a five-year cycle and ensure broad engagement from staff through surveys, forums and dialogue. Accountability and direction for strategic issues including those pertaining to economic, social, and environmental topics, are ultimately set by our Board, an inspiring group of women and men who bring a wealth of expertise and insights from a range of disciplines—all with an eye to advancing our mission impact around the world.
Our Ethics and Governance
Setting Clear Direction, Guided by Our Mission and ValuesThe mission of our company—to improve the quality of life and economic well-being of people worldwide—was established more than 50 years ago, and it remains central to our identity, our work and our culture. Our mission and our six core values are our true north. All 3,600 of our colleagues, from entry level to our Board of Directors, are expected to live our mission and our values every day.
Reinforcing a Strong Culture of Ethics
Ethical behavior and a strong moral compass are expected from all Abt staff, from entry-level to senior management, up to the Board of Directors. Our Code of Conduct establishes standards of business conduct that are applied uniformly to all employees and operations. This is a critical resource to help ensure that each of us knows how to do the right thing every day.
We have a strict, zero-tolerance policy for sexual misconduct of any kind. We require all Abt Associates U.S. employees complete training modules on human rights, trafficking, child protection, preventing sexual exploitation and abuse, reporting harassment, investigations and retaliation and zero tolerance. In FY19, 100 percent of Abt Associates U.S. staff completed training on all modules. We have two 24-hour anonymous helplines for reporting any potential misconduct, as well as robust required trainings. Across Abt U.K. and Australia, formal training is provided for child protection, fraud and sexual harassment, with the modern slavery and human trafficking formal training currently in development.
Living up to our high standards is not necessarily the easiest path, but by doing so, we make sure that Abt will always be recognized for both, our excellent work and our unyielding integrity.
Abt’s Institutional Review BoardWe study some of the most important questions facing the world today, from the effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, to evaluating the effectiveness of strategies to reduce barriers to family planning services. Social, behavioral and educational research can pose risks to privacy and confidentiality, as well as ethical challenges, especially studies involving vulnerable populations. We are committed to conducting research that meets the highest ethical standards. To this end, we maintain our own Institutional Review Board (IRB) to safeguard research participants’ rights and welfare and to protect their personal information.
Our Leaders at all levels
Building Diversity, Enabling Inclusion
Abt is a community. We celebrate—and thrive on—different perspectives, cultures, expertise and points of view. Our diversity delivers winning results for our clients and creates a sense of belonging for our people.
We believe work environments rooted in inclusivity benefit everyone. It’s how more than 3,600 people, speaking 56 languages, working in more than 50 countries, are able to collaborate to make an impact in communities around the world.
At Abt, we’re an EEO, affirmative action and equal opportunity employer. We have endorsed the Minimum Standards for Mainstreaming Gender Equality and have attained EDGE certification. We are dedicated to equity across age, sex, creed, marital status, citizenship status, religion, gender identity, race, color, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, veteran status and any other protected category or personal characteristic. These aren’t just policies—this is how we live the values we promote through our work in moving people from vulnerability to security worldwide. Every day.
Serving in the military is a unique and profound experience and we are proud to have veterans contributing to our work at Abt. In early 2019, we launched an Employee Resource Group (ERG) to connect employees across the U.S. with direct military experience, whose family members are or were in the military and staff working with veteran-focused community organizations and associations. The Veterans & Military ERG aims to build awareness of how service members' skills transfer to benefit the company and to create an inclusive environment for employees with a background or interest in military service. The group is currently developing mentorship and professional growth opportunities for employees with interest in military-related work.
Abt was recently awarded EDGE Certification—Economic Dividends for Gender Equality. This makes Abt the first U.S. government implementing partner to meet the prestigious global business standard. EDGE is considered the leading global assessment methodology and business certification standard for gender equality. The process included an intensive audit of our gender equity practices, policies and employee perceptions and benchmarking them against other organizations. Abt is one of just 20 organizations in the U.S. that currently have EDGE Certification. Attaining EDGE Certification signals our commitment to raising the standards of gender equality—not only through our work with marginalized and vulnerable populations, but at every level in our workplace.
Facilitating a Culture of LearningAbt Associates is dedicated to providing resources and programs to support staff growth and development to help them succeed in their careers.We offer a range of professional development opportunities, including financial assistance for accredited university courses or professional certifications, internal courses, brown bags and technical workshops. We know that on-the-job learning is critical to our people’s growth, so we foster an environment where stretch assignments and internal mobility opportunities are encouraged and supported.Our Mobility Marketplace enables staff to post or accept open assignments, facilitating internal movement and exposure to different areas of the company.This year we launched an exciting pilot program—Learning Accounts. Through this program, staff accrue hours that can be spent toward professional development outside the office such as attendance at seminars and conferences, as well as toward internal growth opportunities.
Abt’s new Data Science Fellowship is an intensive cohort-based instructional program designed to increase staff capacity in using artificial intelligence (AI) to streamline and improve data analysis using large amounts of data. The Data Science Fellows create and train AI algorithms in the form of applications in predictive analytics and natural language processing within their subject matter areas, including health, environment, education and international development.
In 2018 we celebrated the fourth year of the formal Abternship program and welcomed 22 Abterns. Ten percent of our Abternship participants have gone on to join our bold workforce after graduation.
Our Employee Wellness
Supporting Health and BalanceThe health and wellness of our staff is a high priority. We offer a robust set of benefits—from comprehensive health insurance, retirement and commuting assistance, to wellness perks like massages, on-premise gyms and ergonomic assessments.We regularly review our offering to ensure we meet the needs of our staff. In FY2019, we updated our parental leave policy. New parents can now receive 10 days of full paid leave when they welcome a new child into their life, through birth or adoption. In addition, we launched an Adoption Assistance benefit reimbursing $5,000 in costs per adoption. We are proud to live our values by reinforcing our commitment to being a family friendly employer of choice.
Our Environmental Responsibility
Driving Down Our Own Greenhouse Gas Emissions
We are committed to decarbonization. To ensure we keep on track for our 2050 Zero Carbon goal, we use emission reduction targets to gauge our progress and actively manage our emissions. Our first target was a 25 percent reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2021 from our 2012 base year. As of 2018, we have reduced emissions by 33.5 percent—and are not stopping there. We are excited to begin development of our next target for 2026.
Our 2018 emissions of 5,702 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCO2e) include the addition of two data centers to our emission inventory and emissions from the build-out phase of our two new offices in Maryland and Massachusetts. Even with these additional GHG sources, the total amount emitted is lower than the previous year as we saw an overall reduction in electricity, air travel and employee commuting emissions.
Reductions in electricity were largely attributed to the two new sustainably built offices, accounting for a combined 51 percent reduction in electricity use compared to the previous locations. To further reduce our emissions, we purchase Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) at our Massachusetts office. When accounting for 2018 RECs, our total emissions result in a 36 percent reduction from 2012.
Ensuring Sustainable OperationsEliminating Land-Fill Bound WasteIt’s not about waste management, it’s about waste elimination. In 2018, we enhanced our strategies including standardizing recycling signage across our U.S. offices, stocking our cafes with reusable silverware, plates and glassware and scaling our employee education activities.To date, we have implemented recycling services in all of our U.S. offices, and composting services in three—which serve more than 50 percent of our U.S. staff. In Maryland and Massachusetts, our two largest U.S. offices, we track waste generation data, and have set landfill diversion goals of 80 percent by 2020.
Minding What We PurchaseWhat we purchase is just as important as how we dispose of it. We continue to find ways to track and reduce our footprint whether we are moving to a new office space or procuring supplies and machines for our operations.Abt partnered with architects, designers and project teams to develop a Sustainability Charter to guide the integration of sustainable design elements into our new offices in Maryland and Massachusetts. Elements include LED lighting, Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified flooring, carbon-neutral carpeting, zero volatile organic compounds (VOC) paints and energy-efficient equipment. We screen procurement of items from cleaning to office supplies and from printers to laptops for attributes like high post-consumer recycled content, energy efficiency and non-toxic materials.
Our Financial Health
Maintaining a Healthy, Thriving CompanyFinancial health and mission impact are intimately linked at Abt Associates. Strong financial health enables us to invest in our mission, our people and our systems. Between FY17 and FY18 we grew 26 percent and further expanded our work in Australia and the Pacific, as well as in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean and the United States.Our ability to scale innovative approaches to address entrenched challenges across many disciplines—customized to clients’ needs and supported by cutting-edge technology—has enabled Abt to grow and thrive with a laser focus on advancing our mission around the world.