Client Selection
As we seek to create positive, enduring change in the world, we are committed to living the values on which our firm was founded almost a hundred years ago. To that end, we regularly evaluate and update our governance process, including the policy determining which clients we serve and on what topics, ensuring we systematically identify and manage risk before committing to a client project.

About our client and engagement selection process

Internal frameworks

We have long had policies governing what work we will and will not do. In 2019, we strengthened these policies further by launching a more rigorous framework and set of criteria to evaluate our client service.

Under our Client Service Policy, our firm must affirmatively approve service to new clients. Such approval is based on the results of client diligence performed by a mix of internal staff and outside experts. Similar client diligences are also routinely triggered when issues are raised regarding existing client institutions or individuals, including issues raised by colleagues through a confidential and dedicated hotline available to them.

We also require that our partners systematically assess client projects across five inter-related dimensions: Country, Institution, Topic, Individual, and Operational considerations. Referred to as “CITIO,” this framework is embedded in the way we assess risk for all our client work. It applies globally, across all sectors, whether work is formal or informal, paid or unpaid.

The CITIO framework ensures that we take a consistent, holistic approach to evaluating the clients we serve and the likely impact of our work to determine if it meets the high expectations and ethical standards held by our colleagues, clients and other external stakeholders. Among other criteria, it requires us to consider the unintended consequences of any proposed work, including potential negative impact to individuals, with particular emphasis on vulnerable populations.

Our Client Service Policy also includes bright-line rules for work we will not perform. For example, we will not serve defense, intelligence, justice or police institutions in non-democratic countries (for which we base our assessment on a respected external index, with the only exceptions for international aid and humanitarian work approved by our global Client Service Risk Committee, or “CSRC,” which is described below). Another example is that we do not serve political parties, political advocacy groups, legislatures, or individual legislators’ offices, nor do we take part in political advocacy or lobbying.

We also have policies and guidelines in place for specific areas of our client work; for example, an enhanced set of rules govern our work for public, social, and state-linked sector (PSSS) clients. These rules ensure that our work for PSSS clients is rigorously risk reviewed, with consideration to such matters as the impact and value for money of our work and our contracting arrangements.

Dedicated oversight and decision-making support

To support our rigorous approach to client service, we continually evolve our risk and governance processes and capabilities, including our firm risk, legal, and compliance functions. Client service matters that require consideration beyond our standard processes are escalated to a global decision-making body, the CSRC.

The CSRC is a global committee of respected senior firm leaders, supported by firm risk, legal and communications professionals, which provides advice and decisions on the most complex risks we face in our client service, with input from geographic and sector leaders and relevant firm functions. This process is designed to ensure transparent and independent provision of advice and decision-making, and to uphold our firm’s high professional standards for client service, including how the CITIO framework is applied. Each year, hundreds of cases of potential client engagements are escalated for CSRC review to ensure they adhere to relevant policies and that appropriate guardrails are put in place to address any identified risks. For engagements that fail to meet these standards, the CSRC declines the work.

About our professional standards

Our policies and professional standards apply to every member of the firm. To ensure awareness, understanding and compliance with our Client Service and other policies, all colleagues are required to complete an annual curriculum of Professional Standards & Risk learning programs that address the expectations outlined in our Code of Professional Conduct. All colleagues are also required to complete an Annual Policy Certification. Similarly, all new hires are required to participate in onboarding sessions where they learn about our values, complete digital training modules on key risks areas, and certify their compliance with these professional standards. These and other detailed guidelines are available to all employees via our online intranet and various learning modules.

For more on these professional standards, please visit our Code of Professional Conduct here.

Related

Our Code of Professional Conduct

See how we bring our values to life for our colleagues and clients.

Diversity

Our commitment to diversity and inclusion is embedded in our firm's history and daily practice.

Environmental Sustainability

Our strategy helps us minimize the impact our firm has on the environment.

Supplier Standards

We hold our suppliers to the same high standards of social responsibility that we hold ourselves.