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Accenture: Accessing Sustainability as a Key Engagement Driver

By Melissa J. Anderson (New York City)

Last week Accenture released its 2009 Corporate Citizenship Report, which details, among other programs, its successful Skills to Succeed program. Launched in the middle of 2009, Skills to Succeed provides job training and leadership development to individuals around the world.

As the report explains, this empowers them “to participate in and contribute to the economy” by “….strengthening leadership capabilities, assisting in the development of business plans and strategies; helping to establish core competencies in areas such as financial operations, hiring policies, and customer service; and providing access to mentors and other resources.”

According to the report:

“Securing a job and sustainable income requires practical skills, but for millions of people, it remains difficult to develop such skills, due to economic hardship, poor educational systems or lack of local business infrastructure. Working with key organizations, Accenture is helping these people acquire the skills they need to gain employment.”

The program proves that doing good for others can also be good for internal company relations – specifically employee engagement. As William D. Green, Accenture’s chairman & CEO explains, “We are well on our way to aligning our corporate citizenship initiatives with Skills to Succeed, which emphasizes the importance of education and nurturing talent…”

The report continues:

“Our employees are also supporting Skills to Succeed in their individual fund-raising endeavors. For example, more than 450 employees from 17 countries have taken part in VSO “challenge events,” such as treks to Mount Everest Base Camp. These efforts have raised more than US$3 million for VSO initiatives around the world, and going forward, will solely support Skills to Succeed initiatives.”

Utilizing an Engagement Driver

The report explains, “Developing the skill and talent of our people is at the heart of our business – it’s what we do every day. In a fast-changing multi-polar world, skills are a key driver of economic empowerment for individuals and communities alike.”

Global professional development is clearly an engagement driver for Accenture. It’s culturally significant within the organization – it improves economic circumstances, produces results, and builds community – and as a result, Skills to Succeed has really appealed to Accenture’s employees.

As Adrian Lajtha, Accenture’s Chief Leadership Officer explained, “Being a good corporate citizen has long been a fundamental part of the character of Accenture people around the world.” The new Skills to Succeed program simply makes sense for Accenture, and as a result the company’s employees are engaged in its success.

But Accenture has long been focused on engaging its employees through corporate citizenship measures. For example, environmental stewardship is an important issue for this global organization. As the report says, “Our people around the world have enthusiastically embraced environmental stewardship and embedded it in our internal and external activities.”

For example, according to the report, “In fiscal 2009, we achieved our initial target of a 25 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emitted per employee, measured against our fiscal 2007 baseline.”

Accenture’s employees are highly engaged in this issue – willing to show their commitment through personal participation. Lajtha explained, “For example, last year, we invited employees to participate in an “Eco Challenge” to focus attention on sustainability. An overwhelming 32,000 Accenture people participated and pledged more than 40,000 tons of carbon reductions – the same amount of carbon emitted by 28,000 commercial flights between London and New York.”

Engaging on Sustainability

Sustainability – both economic and environmental – is a key engagement driver for Accenture. By engaging individuals on this cultural and business motivator, the company does its best to attract and retain key staff – individuals who reflect these company values and will, in turn, work to perpetuate them within the organization in the long term.

As Lathja explained, “Clearly, our people care – and the fact that our company supports their commitment helps us attract and retain high performers.”

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