By Melissa J. Anderson

Accenture announced today a commitment to equip 250,000 people by 2015 with the skills necessary to get a job or start a business, amounting to a financial contribution of over $100 million by the end of 2013. As part of the new initiative, Skills to Succeed, Accenture will partner with strategic organizations working to educate, train, and develop skills that enable individuals to “participate in and contribute to the economy and society.”

“We had a very strong background and legacy of corporate citizenship consciousness – but felt we weren’t having the impact we could or should for a company of this size,” said Jill Huntley, Senior Director of Corporate Citizenship for Accenture.

She explained that the company set out to build a more focused corporate citizenship program, and eventually the company settled on Skills to Succeed as the company’s global corporate citizenship theme. She continued, “Skills to Succeed was a huge area of resonance with us. It’s very relevant to us as a business. We felt people could subscribe to it and feel energized.”

“We’re in the people business. We work to develop human capital. Building those skills is who we are and what we do as a company. I hope [Skills to Succeed] represents a tremendous contribution.”

She explained that while Skills to Succeed had already existed for the company, “What is different is the way in which we are focusing our contributions, hoping they will be more effective and efficient in the differences we can make.”

“We have been able to take a broad-based program on a macroeconomic level and it’s very interesting to see how that can be applied meaningfully in local markets from India to Germany to the US,” Huntley said.

“We can see an impact already – we have more than 80 initiatives now, and expect the program to grow.”

Skills to Succeed and Employee Engagement

Accenture’s workforce has “definitely” responded well to the new initiative. “It’s early days in a way,” Huntley said, “but it’s really interesting to see people come into contact with Skills to Succeed for the first time – whether they are reading about it, or seeing the set of opportunities to volunteer.”

She continued, “It really seems to capture their imaginations.”

Accenture’s employees are concerned with being “good corporate citizens at the individual level as well as corporately,” Huntley explained. “The impact we can have in the current economic environment is huge.”

“That our employees are able to bring their skills, experience, and professionalism they’ve built during their careers to the [forefront] is a source of motivation and pride for them,” she added.

Stories of Success

Huntley said, “We’ve already built really exciting relationships with non profits – specialists who are at the forefront of their environment.”

She said there are already many success stories to come out of Skills to Succeed. But one partner, Passerelles Numeriques, a French NGO that provides IT training and job skills development in the Philippines and Cambodia, has stood out.

“It has strengthened itself as an organization due to the partnership. We have played a specific role in its evolution, helping to join the dots between people in need and the solutions required.”

She also mentioned that job skills programs for young people have had a successful response. She said, “Many individuals just give up a few hours per day [to volunteer, teaching] interview skills and resume writing, helping people develop their elevator pitch.”

“The most inspiring notes and emails come back,” she said.

Huntley, who leads the company’s Global Citizenship efforts said, “The impact we can make never ceases to inspire me. I have such a privilege to have had a job that’s tied up in that.