What do you mean, inclusion starts with I?
There has been a lot of buzz on social media around a movement that we launched at Accenture, titled #InclusionStartsWithI. We asked our own people about bias and inclusion for an internal video that has been viewed and shared extensively externally. The interest is primarily because it consists of real people giving an honest comment on their personal situation – you can see it here.
The video is part of a wider call to action to encourage individuals to commit to making a difference to inclusion and diversity in everything that they do. We have asked our people to commit to specific actions – and we hope it will inspire action and discussion outside of our own business.
The #InclusionStartsWithI movement is the latest demonstration of our commitment in this. We believe business has a role to play in society and this role has never been more important than it is today. Our staff and clients alike expect us to actively contribute to helping improve society and the good news is that our people have always shown a willingness to drive change for the better, be it as individuals or as a group.
This is reflected in a number of projects that we are involved in. For example, while many see refugees as a political problem to be addressed by government, a group of our Dutch colleagues believed that businesses could also help. As everyone is well aware, Europe is seeing aninflux of refugees and a lot of concern has been raised about the financial costs caused by a lack of integration in the short term.
Iinitially we teamed up with 20 big employers to discuss how to try and improve integration of refugees through improvements and collaboration in the labour market – supporting individuals in order that they can become valued members of society much quicker than before.
As outcome result of these discussions, In The Netherlands, Accenture created The Refugee Talent Hub, an online platform that uses algorithms to match refugee talents to employers, as well as identifying potential skills gaps that can then both be addressed by the individuals to make themselves even more employable and by Dutch employers to facilitate potential talent the resources and tools to fully match open vacancies.
By the time the Refugee Talent Hub was launched, there were more than 70 organisations involved, looking to develop and employ refugees. This includes corporates, non-profits, government departments and academic organisations. As many flee conflict at home, they want to create a new life for themselves and to contribute to the societies that have taken them in, and so this is one way the process can be sped up.
Accenture has also benefited from this and various talented individuals have joined us from this initiative and more than 120 of our own employees are helping coach refugees. We also see our own people with refugee backgrounds being extremely motivated to be part of this refugee solution to also help others, causing a multiplier effect for Accenture in terms of employee engagement.
In Italy, we have created a new way of working with people with disabilities to help them be part of the workplace, providing them with support in the best environment needed to help them succeed. Job Stations are smart working locations, aimed at helping people who have been impacted by mental illness. They are run in partnership by Accenture and the Accenture Italian Foundation – in partnership with local Foundations like Associazione Progetto Itaca and Fondazione Bertini Malgarini – and include tutoring and support from mental health professionals.
One of the people who has successfully returned to work is Cristiano Bianchini. He was frequently hospitalised as a result of his mental illness and his life was radically changed as a result. He believes that Job Stations has been the solution to help him with what he sees as the heavy burden of mental illness.
This system has already supported more than 50 people across 10 companies as each individual seeks to become a valued part of the workforce and contribute to each business. It is helping them overcome many of the issues of their illness that has previously prevented them from working. It encourages inclusion, with the help of additional support infrastructure for those using the scheme. It celebrates abilities.
Whether it be Job Stations in Italy, the refugee Hub, or InclusionStartsWithI, there is a common theme. Business, like the wider society needs to recognise that differences should be embraced as strengths, while inclusion promotes belonging, purpose and wellbeing. Accenture has always believed that diversity ignites creativity, problem solving and innovation. By being good citizens, businesses can help society improve but it has to start somewhere. For Accenture, this year #InclusionStartsWithI.
What is your commitment?
Sander van ‘t Noordende is a member of Accenture’s Global Management Committee. He is a Board member at Avanade, a joint venture between Microsoft and Accenture.