Accenture: Driving a Culture of Diversity & Inclusion, Focusing on LGBT

Business in the Community Ireland

Accenture is a leading global professional services company, providing a broad range of services and solutions in Strategy, Consulting, Digital, Technology and Operations. Combining unmatched experience and specialized skills across more than 40 industries and all business functions, Accenture has approximately 384,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries.

Accenture Ireland employs approximately 2,000 people across three bases in Dublin – our Headquarters in Grand Canal Square, our Global Services Team in Grand Canal Plaza and our new Centre for Innovation at The Dock, 7 Hanover Quay.

Business Issue

Accenture’s LGBT network has been working over the last number of years to address three key challenges: a lack of education and a need to de-stigmatise the topic of LGBT; a need for a safe and secure community for our LGBT employees; and a difficulty in establishing a quorum for events and regular correspondence.

Solution Applied                                             

Accenture launched its LGBT network in 2008 and later partnered with the Gay & Lesbian Equality Network (GLEN) by signing up as a Diversity Champion. We re-launched our network in 2014 with a specific plan to educate employees, increase visibility and form a sense of community.

After establishing the internal network and initiating external relationships through GLEN professional networking events, we became primary sponsor of the GAZE Film Festival in 2012, which has since emerged into a longer-term partnership that is widely recognised across the LGBT community.

Through strong support from leadership, the number of ‘allies’ has more than doubled since 2014.  We are proud to have outspoken LGBT advocates and allies at all levels of the business, including at Managing Director level.  Events were held to educate employees on LGBT-specific challenges and on the role of an ally, and much traction was gained leading up to the Marriage Equality referendum.

The introduction of LGBT Ally lanyards in the office and specific statements of LGBT inclusion on email signatures, have served as subtle but effective signs of solidarity, making a strong statement in support of inclusion and diversity.

A number of ‘roles’ were created to manage day-to-day responsibilities, such as Communications Co-ordinators, Event Organisers, etc.  This became a working group, which has helped delegate much of the day-to-day responsibilities in running the network.

We further expanded our external footprint by assisting the Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI) to launch their first ever leadership summit in the Dublin office.

Stakeholder Impact

The presence of an Inclusion & Diversity agenda conveys to employees the company’s commitment to supporting our LGBT colleagues and providing a workplace of equality.

Having considered impact from a new-joiner perspective, our active engagement with individuals who are new to the company has affirmed that they feel accepted in the organisation, and gain a sense of belonging through regular social networking events with the LGBT and Ally networks.

Technology Consulting Analyst, Stephen Barry, who joined Accenture in 2016 had this to say:

Prior to joining Accenture, I had very limited exposure to the LGBT community, mainly due to never feeling the need to get involved but the vibrant network within the company was something I instantly gravitated towards. I can very honestly say that when I joined, I didn’t expect to be attending LGBT events, let alone marching in Dublin Pride alongside so many fantastic members of a community that I finally called my own.

Employees who sign up as LGBT Allies are recognised with a badge on their internal People page, and regular communications serve to educate and inform them about happenings in the LGBT community.

A review and update of company policies – including the introduction of a new Parenting Leave policy – has ensured that employees in same-sex relationships are given equal rights.

Business Benefits

One of our core values at Accenture is our People and we pride ourselves in encouraging employees to be themselves at work. By enabling people to be their very best, we ensure that we are serving our clients to the best of our ability.

Michelle Cullen, Head of Inclusion & Diversity at Accenture, says:

Inclusiveness is at the heart of everything we do at Accenture, both as a business and as an employer. We are so proud to be GLEN Diversity Champions and see every day, first-hand, that we all thrive when we can simply be our authentic selves at work, and the organization, culture and community is the better for it.”

In recognition of our best practices, Accenture won ‘LGBT Employer of the Year’ at the 2015 GALAs (Gay & Lesbian Awards) – a national event to celebrate people and organisations who devote themselves to supporting the LGBT community in Ireland.

In September 2016, we had the honour of accepting the GLEN Workplace Equality Index award for No.1 LGBT Employer.  These awards are a testament to the external recognition of our LGBT inclusion policies, and have been a positive factor in maintaining our client relationships.

Michelle Toner, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility, eir, speaks of Accenture’s role as one of influencing other organisations to follow suit:

“We were proud to be listed on the Workplace Equality Index in 2016 alongside Diversity and Inclusion leaders like Accenture. We’d like to congratulate Accenture on their leading position on the Workplace Equality Index and achieving Employer of the Year for LGBT people in Ireland.  Accenture’s programmes progress workplace diversity, setting a high benchmark for success. Their leading role motivates all of us to work harder to ensure equality for all.”

External sponsorships and partnerships have also resulted in promotion of our brand within numerous publications.

 Tips

Encourage diversity among network leads – i.e. mix of genders and sexual orientations – to ensure a healthy blend of perspectives.