December 18, 2020
As we reflect on 2020, a year filled with uncertainty, fear, loss, stress and loneliness, most of us will have spent time re-evaluating our priorities, our purpose and our values.
With such impactful changes to how we have needed to work, most people, organisations and businesses have needed to reset and reinvent.
While some of the necessary changes due to the pandemic may be temporary, this reset and reinvention
is likely to alter in the longer term what it means to be part of a society and community – being more aware of and supporting those most at need.
There have been some significant societal shifts in recent years regarding what we consider ‘valuable’ – which have been further accelerated by the climate emergency and global pandemic.
For most businesses that have traditionally only considered value as a number – revenue, turnover, growth, costs and so on – this seismic shift is going to require some work.
COVID-19 has elevated the social impact of many businesses and thrown a spotlight on the nature of our companies, our character and our brand(s).
To not respond is to ignore those that need help at times of increased uncertainty and societal instability. Accenture had already started redefining its purpose and strategy before the pandemic hit.
But our concept of “embracing the power of change to create 360-degree value for our clients, people and communities”, has become even more meaningful as the events of this year have unfolded.
The recent CBI Annual Conference called for businesses in the UK to “build back better”.
There is no doubt that 2020 brought unprecedented challenges for business, people and communities. Systemic challenges, such as digital poverty and skills shortages, have been further exacerbated by record unemployment.
It is good to see that many businesses stepped up, continuing to invest in their communities in new ways despite the challenging times.
Microsoft, for example, has been working with the Social Tech Trust on AI for Good projects – from boosting crop yields, to improving the lives of those with accessibility needs, all of the projects are using AI to solve complex problems facing our society.
And while new technology and innovation will go some distance in helping to solve some of the
enormous, collective challenges that we face today (and in the future), we have a responsibility to ensure that technology doesn’t leave people behind.
For Accenture, creating value also means helping communities prepare for the future.
Tech4Good initiatives provide an opportunity for organisations like Accenture – with innovative thinkers and a skilled workforce – an opportunity to use these skills for good to help the community.
And it’s good for our people too – we know that being able to give back is important to them and gives them greater job satisfaction.
Accenture’s initiatives are helping people to develop new digital skills.
Our Skills to Succeed Academy has upskilled more than 80,000 people in the UK since it launched in 2014 and our Digital Skills courses have supported over 120,000 people globally since 2018 through free online learning.
Collective action through the likes of Movement to Work, which has transformed the lives of tens
of thousands of young people, and the grassroots DevicesDotNow and Reboot initiatives we co-founded with FutureDotNow and Nominet during lockdown, have helped excluded communities to access 11,000- plus unused devices.
At our Advanced Technology Centre, in Newcastle, we’ve been working with a number of local charities on Tech4Good projects for many years.
But, as can be expected, the need for support has increased exponentially this year – particularly with regards to digital skills.
In response, our team in Newcastle has volunteered more than 100 hours in total this year, helping to deliver personalised tech training sessions, online coaching around how to use Zoom/Teams etc, and design thinking workshops.
Our newly-formed Tech4Good Digital Apprenticeship Scheme has seen 49 of our apprentices working on projects this year, with many more in the pipeline.
Our first apprentice to complete the scheme, John Chambers, helped to rebuild the website for Youth Focus: North East – a regional hub for connecting young people and the organisations and professionals who can support them.
We’re also working with local charity VONNE, supporting them with their COVID-19 impact survey and building a new responsive website for a project they have launched to battle climate change – the North East Climate Coalition (NEECCo).
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is certainly not a new concept, but now more than ever there
is an increasing expectation on organisations to consciously consider and take action to minimise any negative impacts they have on all aspects of society – economically, socially and environmentally.
That’s why at Accenture, we’re now measuring our value as a business, through the impact we have on our people, community, clients and the planet.
We face ongoing, collective challenges, but we have human ingenuity and the power of technology to create the solutions that will help to drive positive impact. Those who prioritise being a responsible business will likely be more successful and create more value over the longer-term.