Corporate citizenship is the way forward in commerce. It’s about conducting business ethically and with respect for stakeholders—but it goes beyond that. Businesses in 2016 have a social responsibility, too.
Accenture—a global professional services company offering solutions in strategy, consulting, digital, technology, and operations—strives to conduct business in a way that heightens the living standard of the communities they serve. They do this by being leaders in world-class, forward-thinking initiatives that work toward a better future—and it all starts within its organization.
To start, Accenture has increased the number of female new hires to 37 per cent, with a goal of increasing that number to 40 per cent by 2017. They have also expanded parental benefits in six countries, scrapped annual performance reviews, and invested $841 million in developing and training their employees—and interns.
Emily Raso can speak to Accenture’s commitment to developing new hires and interns. She’s a Digital Business Integration Analyst aligned to the Digital Practice, who joined the company in April 2016 after having a “great internship experience.”
“I felt limited by my technology background, but Accenture offered the opportunity to explore new avenues I hadn’t previously considered,” said Raso.
One such opportunity was Accenture’s Student Leadership Conference in St. Charles, Illinois. Raso attended as an intern.
“We were flown to Chicago to meet with over 300 North American interns and spent four days hearing inspirational speeches from Accenture executive leaders from across the globe. In the evenings, we took part in networking events …. It was the best week.”
Accenture hired Raso the day her internship ended.
Connor Meagher is an Analyst in the company’s Strategy Practice. He joined the company in March 2016 after an internship the previous year. He fondly remembers the Intern Day of Service, a single-day event organized by interns in conjunction with local non-profit organizations. Last summer, interns in Accenture’s Calgary office, where Meagher spent his internship, organized the event with the Weaselhead/Glenmore Preservation Society, which is dedicated to preserving Calgary’s natural areas and rivers. During the event, Meagher worked toward helping Weaselhead/Glenmore remove invasive plant species from Weaselhead Park.
“Community involvement is critical to me, personally, and I am proud to work for a company that reflects the same values . . . I plan on staying involved in the community throughout my career,” Meagher said. “The skills and relationships I developed during my internship have been valuable in my first few months as a full-time strategy analyst.”
Outside of the company, Accenture has significantly invested in people. Currently, 1.2 million professionals have gained business and entrepreneurial skills thanks to Accenture, and that number is set to grow to three million by the end of 2020. In fact, the organization has invested $300 million in its corporate citizenship efforts since 2011. One such effort is Skills to Succeed. This initiative helps develop worldwide employment and entrepreneurship opportunities.
Jasmine Kassam, a Management Consulting Analyst aligned to the Resources Practice, says that Skills to Succeed is intended to help individuals become self-sufficient in the world of business.
“Because Accenture is a global consulting firm, it has a vision to improve the way the world works and lives. Accenture wants to drive this initiative to take the globe’s largest challenges first hand and capitalize on creating opportunity,” she said.
Kassam is co-lead of the Community Consulting Project (CCP), a Skills to Succeed enterprise and corporate citizenship initiative. The CCP is a six-week program that allows university students to experience a hands-on consulting project through a local client. In Calgary, four institutes have benefited from the CCP: Alberta Cancer Foundation, Boys & Girls Clubs of Calgary, Making Changes Association, and Youth Central.
“[CCP] benefits the non-profit organization greatly because no payments are required, and the organization is able to receive strategic solutions from the students, which have been guided by Accenture advisors,” said Kassam.
Corporate citizenship doesn’t just impact people, nor should it. Accenture has led the world in environmental initiatives, as well. The company has successfully reduced employee carbon emissions by 47 per cent, with the 2020 goal being 50 per cent. Also by 2020, the company strives to improve energy efficiency by 30 per cent. And it has found its way onto CDP’s (Climate Disclosure Project) Disclosure Leadership Index, scoring 99/100 on responding to climate change.
When it comes to making a difference in the lives of people, Accenture has left no stone unturned in finding ways to lead the world into a smarter, cleaner, better future.