Professional services organisation Accenture, which employs just over 12,500 staff in the UK and Ireland, strives to be at the forefront of workplace diversity and inclusivity. Its significant commitment to providing a supportive environment for its employees has received external recognition, such as a 2015 European Diversity Award for Outstanding Employee Network Group of the Year for its African Caribbean Network, and successive recognition as a Star Performer on Stonewall’s Top 100 Employers list.
Tony Horan, UK and Ireland lead for human capital and diversity, says: “We see inclusion and diversity as a real differentiator in terms of our ability to attract the very best talent, to retain the talent that we have, and to really enable our people to be engaged and productive and content in the workplace.”
The organisation embeds inclusivity into its cultural DNA through a range of awareness initiatives, access to online resources, and training opportunities. Inclusivity and diversity training, such as unconscious bias sessions, are offered to ensure managers feel confident and empowered to support their teams, whether that be approving flexible-working requests or signposting staff to a confidential employee helpline, provided by Bupa.
The organisation also runs a wide array of events to celebrate inclusivity and diversity among its workforce. This ranges from activities to mark calendar events such as Pride Week and International Women’s Day, to on-site educational events with external experts, such as a talk from charity Mermaids around how parents can support children with gender identity issues. The inclusivity and diversity agenda also informs Accenture’s corporate social responsibility efforts, for example, staff are given three days’ volunteering leave a year, which can include support for organisations that assist with its inclusivity efforts.
A number of the awareness and education events are available online to facilitate inclusion of employees who work on a remote or flexible basis. Clients are also often invited to attend, enabling Accenture to share its experiences with others and help progress the conversation around diversity issues.
There are a number of employee networks within the organisation, which are encouraged to work together to facilitate support for the whole employee rather than just one aspect of their identity. For example, its family and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) network is set to host an event around LGBT fertility. Furthermore, 15% of the organisation’s UK and Ireland employees are LGBT allies, who are actively involved in progressing LGBT support in the workplace, as well as visibly demonstrating their commitment by wearing rainbow-coloured lanyards. There are also 700 mental health allies across all career levels, who have undergone training so that they are equipped to spot early warning signs, signpost staff to support, and open up the conversation about mental health. Plans are in place to increase the number of both LGBT and mental health allies in the organisation.
Accenture is also taking proactive measures to address gender diversity. Horan says: “We’ve taken a holistic approach to gender diversity, so it’s not just looking at maternity integration, it’s also about how we recruit, how we develop women in terms of leadership programmes, how we provide the right sponsorship, the right coaching and the right mentoring. And then it’s also looking at our engagement framework and at some of the offerings that we can make.”
Accenture offers enhanced parental leave of up to 32 weeks on full pay to both mothers and fathers, and offers support to staff before, during and after parental leave to enable them to continue to thrive in the workplace following significant life changes. The organisation also provides various flexible-working options, such as part-time working, job shares, career breaks and study leave. It also continues to look for ways to support gender diversity, for example, its women’s network has become a gender network in order to engage the whole workforce and ensure that gender diversity and equality is a shared agenda with shared accountability.
The organisation underpins its inclusivity efforts with HR analytics, such as analysis of attrition reports or the number of women brought in at different levels through the recruitment process. Horan says: “Keeping front and centre on [diversity and inclusion] from a data perspective enables us to make sure that we can identify areas of concern and make quick interventions before they become problems.”