NEW YORK--Edelman has named Carol Cone to head a global practice that aims to consolidate the firm’s CSR, sustainability and citizenship capabilities.

The ‘Business + Social Purpose’ offering becomes Edelman’s eighth global practice. Cause marketing pioneer Cone, who joined Edelman two years ago, is named global practice chair, supported by regional practice leads Ashley Hegland in Asia-Pacific, Sharon Hess in Latin America, Pia Garcia in the UK and Michael Holland in North America.

The practice will include 125 professionals worldwide and attempt to help brands better navigate social issues, rather than focusing purely on profit-making.

“In our globalized world, organizations cannot work in isolation, nor can they solely focus on profit,” said Edelman global practices president and CEO Alan VanderMolen. “How an organization makes profits is equally important as the profits themselves.”

The practice already counts a number of clients, including Adobe, American Heart Association, eBay, Levi’s, Natura, Samsung, Southwest Airlines, and Western Union.

The firm pointed to its work with Dove - the ‘Campaign for Real Beauty’ - as an example of a brand that successfully used a focus on purpose to differentiate its product.

The launch comes as Edelman releases findings from is 2012 goodpurpose study, which explores global consumer attitudes toward social purpose, and their expectations of brands and corporations. The research concludes that “when quality and price of a product are deemed equal, social purpose has consistently been the leading purchase trigger for global consumers since 2008.”

“We call ourselves Business + Social Purpose because business can no longer stand on the sidelines of our collective future,” said Cone. “Bringing social and environmental issues into business, in a relevant and authentic way adds energy and a reason for being beyond profits. Our goal is to help clients crystallize, integrate and activate their commitments to CSR, sustainability, and citizenship throughout their operations and their brands.”

Edelman is not the only firm that sees an opportunity in the area. Earlier this month, Ogilvy PR poached Edelman executive Mitch Markson, the creator of the goodpurpose study, to head its global consumer practice and lead an initiative focused on “purpose branding”.