The world is rapidly changing, creating uncertainty about the future of our planet. Companies face tough decisions about which issues to address and how to make a positive impact. Those that focus on their most salient issues, and effectively communicate the impact they are having, will be better positioned to reduce risk, advance their sustainability agenda and grow their business.Find Out More
Gorman Coale, LLC is a sustainability consultancy serving global FORTUNE 500 companies. We help our clients chart a future path in light of the complexities and constraints of a changing world. We specialize in identifying our clients' material issues and risks; developing their sustainability strategies and goals; and communicating their commitments, initiatives and performance to internal and external stakeholders.
Our expertise spans a wide variety of industries, including food and agriculture, transportation and logistics, footwear and apparel, consumer products, technology, financial services and insurance, and healthcare.Key Services
Liz Gorman has spent the past 25 years solely focused on CSR/sustainability strategy and communications, a specialty that began when she was leading community affairs at Eddie Bauer, Inc. By 2001, Liz was consulting major companies on their CSR strategies, reporting and communications, including Starbucks Coffee Company, Chevron and Eli Lilly. In 2007, Liz joined Cone Communications to help build its sustainability practice and lead multiple account teams. Her clients included CVS Health, Johnson & Johnson and Nestle Waters of North America, among many others. In 2014, Liz returned to her own consulting practice to advise Panera, Staples and Dunkin’ Brands on their sustainability strategies and communications. Two years later, she joined Edelman to lead its Business + Social Purpose practice in the Pacific NW, and to serve as sustainability lead in the U.S. In 2019, Liz co-founded Gorman Coale, a specialized consulting firm focused on providing FORTUNE 500 clients with sustainability strategies, issue spotting, stakeholder engagement and related communications. Liz graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in Political Science, and earned her Master’s in Communications from the University of Minnesota. She serves on the board of the Independent Colleges of Washington, a consortium of the 10 major private universities in Washington state. She is also a Washington Farmland Trust board member.LinkedIn
Ashley Coale has close to 15 years of experience as a sustainability strategist and communicator. Before co-founding Gorman Coale, she was part of Edelman’s sustainability practice where her clients included Unilever, Mars Wrigley, Starbucks, Adobe, Heineken, and Planet Fitness. She worked extensively on sustainability strategy development, materiality assessments and reporting, and related communications. Prior to Edelman, Ashley worked at BBMG, a boutique sustainability marketing firm based in New York with clients such as NBC Universal and Dr. Hauschka, among others. Ashley got her start in the field of social issues and communications through her work in policy and nonprofits. She led communications for international development organizations in both Washington, D.C. and in Brussels, and managed legislative research and constituent communications for U.S. Representative Blumenauer. Ashley holds an MSc from the London School of Economics, an MBA in Sustainability from Presidio Graduate School and a BA from Wellesley College.LinkedIn
Establishing or evolving a roadmap for continual improvement.
Identifying and prioritizing the sustainability issues that matter most.
Engaging audiences in stories with purpose.
Assessing the competitive landscape and understanding a comapny's strengths and opportunities.
Uncovering consumer, societal and regulatory trends that can shape action.
Determining who to engage and how best to communicate with them.
We have worked with some of the world’s biggest brands on their sustainability strategies – from comprehensive programs to specific initiatives.
Our process begins by identifying the issues that are most material; determining what actions are needed to achieve the desired impact; understanding what gaps, strengths, opportunities and constraints exist; deciding who needs to be engaged; and defining what success looks like and how it will be measured. We deliver the business case for advancing a specific strategy and a road map for getting there.
We recently helped a consumer goods brand evolve its climate strategy so it can assume a stronger leadership position within its industry and beyond.
Our materiality process identifies and prioritizes a company’s sustainability-related issues, specifically those that have a significant impact on people and society, the company and on stakeholders’ assessments and decisions.
Through our discovery process, we examine trends in the marketplace and industry, evaluate peer companies, conduct media audits, and consider reporting frameworks and collaborative initiatives, among other inputs. Our research also captures insights gleaned through stakeholder interviews and surveys. Using these findings, we arrive at an assessment that serves as an input to the company’s sustainability strategy, informs stakeholder engagement efforts, and determines content for reporting.
A recent materiality assessment we conducted for a global transportation company identified the gaps in its ESG strategy and set the stage for more robust sustainability reporting.
As an essential organizational function for all companies today, sustainability reporting is the platform for communicating to many stakeholders, and ensuring they understand the company’s material issues, how it has determined its strategy, what commitments it has made, and how it is tracking against its goals. We also believe that reporting – and complementary assets such as websites, videos and infographics – are an opportunity to bring a brand’s sustainability story alive in ways that engage stakeholders in a compelling and informative narrative.
Collectively, we have produced more than 40 GRI and/or SASB-compliant sustainability reports for clients from a wide range of industries. With each project, we pour our hearts into the storytelling and use our heads to determine which data are needed and how best to showcase performance.
For a global life sciences company, we developed a branded platform with supporting pillars to better convey the company’s sustainability story. This came to life in a comprehensive sustainability report, dedicated pages on the corporate website and online videos.
Companies that want to lead – or even run with the pack – need to know where they stand compared to their peers. Benchmarking is the first step to identifying gaps, avoiding potential pitfalls and pinpointing opportunities. We have done benchmarking for companies that want to stand for a cause, improve their overall sustainability strategy and/or better communicate their stories.
We did an extensive benchmarking project for a technology company that needed to make a business case for increasing the company’s investment in sustainability and its related communications. Our findings clearly showed that peer companies were leading in nearly every aspect of sustainability and the benefits of doing so. The deliverable was shared with the Board of Directors to secure additional funding for sustainability.
Having informed insight into the mega-trends influencing our societal landscape is critical to ensuring strategies will be effective in the right environments. We work with clients to understand and evaluate the issues they face by pouring through data from a variety of sources including shareholder resolutions, NGO campaigns, consumer preferences, media coverage, social media engagement and influencer actions.
Take single-use plastic packaging and its meteoric rise to one of the most high-profile environmental issues today. We recently worked with a global beverage company to help clarify the impact of this trend on its business, providing an accurate assessment of the issue and what should be anticipated in the future. These insights informed how the company positioned its move to eliminate plastic straws, helping to ensure a successful launch of its strategy with key stakeholder groups.
Gone are the days when companies developed initiatives in isolation and announced them to the world, without ever considering how stakeholders would react. Today, corporate sustainability initiatives are always developed with an ear to the ground and an open door to key stakeholders and influencers. Determining the right stakeholders to engage is more art than science; although with today’s digital tools, data is helpful in identifying them.
In some cases, clients know the stakeholder groups they are most interested in engaging or reaching. This was true of a company we recently worked with who wanted to better understand how its investors and other key influencers were evaluating its sustainability commitments and communications. We identified a group of investors and influencers for outreach and engagement. The resulting insights were used to provide recommendations on the company’s communication strategy, including its key messaging, cadence and preferred channels.