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Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership

Invitation for expression of interest:

Consultant required to support the preparation of strategy working paper

Term:  October-December 2021

The Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) is inviting submissions for a competitive proposal for the supply and delivery to the University of Cambridge of the services set out in the below specification.

Request for a consultant or team of consultants to advance work across CISL and with its diverse global network on the relationship between business and inequality, and the implications and opportunities for future business, finance and investment strategies.

The consultant should possess relevant qualifications to PhD level or have equivalent substantive experience and research/publications track record.

Project scope and objective:

This project seeks to synthesise insights and perspectives across CISL and its network into a strawman framework for how global business and finance should understand and engage with inequality as a shared challenge.

CISL is committed to tackling inequality in order to build inclusive and resilient societies. Building on our track record at the nexus of business, finance and government, the project will focus on economic inequalities within and between communities and countries.

The work would be envisioned to include the following stages:

  1. Conduct interviews with a small number of staff across CISL’s international teams and a small number of identified experts in business, finance and investment and academia to understand the diverse perspectives and insight already present.
  2. Conduct a brief literature review on the relationship between business and inequality, informed by the questions and insights on emerging opportunities from across CISL and its networks.
  3. Drawing on the above, synthesise implications, strategic options and levers for change in the form of a practical ‘strawman’ framework for business action
  4. Take the strawman through an internal review process, iterating it towards shared framework
  5. Draft a CISL working paper setting out this framework and its reasoning.
  6. Support CISL in taking this framework for consultation with a wider business audience

The consultant will be supervised by the Director of the Centre for Business Transformation who will also chair a cross-CISL project board responsible for managing the project and signing off on its output.

They should exhibit the following skills and knowledge:

  • Knowledge of – and preferably research experience in –inequalities
  • Excellent stakeholder management skills
  • Strong project management experience
  • Strong research, analytic and writing skills
  • Understanding of business and business decision-making
  • Experience of producing short briefings for non-academic (preferably business) audiences
  • Good written and oral communications skills and high attention to detail

Knowledge of relevant work in the University of Cambridge would be desirable.

About CISL

The University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) is a globally influential Institute developing leadership and solutions for a sustainable economy.

Our Rewiring the Economy framework shows how the economy can be ‘rewired’, through focused collaboration between business, government and finance institutions, to deliver positive outcomes for people and environment in pursuit of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

For over three decades we have built individual and organisational leadership capacity and capabilities, and created industry-leading collaborations, to catalyse change and accelerate the path to a sustainable economy. Our Rewiring Leadership framework sets out our model for the leadership needed to achieve this.

Visit our website:


Alongside the crises of climate change and biodiversity loss, social and economic inequalities have emerged as a defining challenge of the 21st century. Historically the domain of public policy and NGOs, business is now expected and compelled to play a more active and responsible role in addressing the causes and impacts of inequality.

Leading companies recognise that a prosperous business relies upon the stability and the success of the society in which it operates. There is also growing recognition that companies need to not only decarbonize the economy and protect nature, but also focus on the ‘S’ in ‘ESG’ by building diverse and inclusive societies that allow the world as a whole to transition towards a sustainable future.

COVID-19 shone a light on the variety of existing societal pressures and exacerbated many of the tensions inherent in the current economic system, including income, generational, racial and other forms of inequality. These tensions create long-term risks to business, consumers and wider society.

As part of CISL’s wider transformation strategy, we are working to inform, inspire and enable major businesses and financial institutions across our global network to align their strategies with the delivery of more resilient and inclusive societies. In support of this, we will conduct a study to provide evidence and options for further action. The Institute will combine its expertise with that of academics across Cambridge University and expert practitioners from its 16,000-strong international network.

To express your interest

Please forward expressions of interest along with CV or CVs, cover letter, evidence of relevant work and pricing schedule (or day rate) to: by midnight on September 30 2021.  

Please be aware that the total current available budget for this work is £11,000 from October to December 2021.


The University intends to award to the most economically advantageous offer or offers in accordance with the following criteria:

  • Degree of understanding of the context/ suitability of proposed approach (45%) 
  • Experience in delivering similar activities for similar clients or audiences, including demonstrated familiarity with the subject area (30%)
  • Value of quotation (25%)

The University will undertake shortlisting interviews in the week commencing October 4 and expects to decide award of this contract by October 11.

Please note

Do not supply any goods or services until you have received confirmation that your proposal has been successful.  Acceptance of the proposal by the University will be in writing. A purchase order will normally be issued.

The University will not reimburse any bidding costs.

This Invitation is confidential. Do not discuss with any third parties the bid you intend to make (except professional advisers or joint bidders who need to be consulted) nor canvass your bid for acceptance.

The University will regard submissions as confidential until award. Information you believe would be exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 after award must be individually identified in your submission together with the reason for the exemption and for the non-disclosure period claimed.

Variant bids may be submitted but must clearly identify all variants from the University’s specification and state all cost implications.

Proposals and supporting documents shall be in English.  Any contract subsequently entered into will be subject to English law and jurisdiction. Unless otherwise agreed in writing, proposals and orders are issued subject to the University’s Standard Terms, a copy of which is available on request. 

Proposals shall comprise a response to the specification and a pricing schedule.

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