Accenture: Supporting female employees to advance to leadership positions

Business in the Community Ireland

Company Description:
Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, with more than 223,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries. Combining unparalleled experience, comprehensive capabilities across all industries and business functions, and extensive research on the world’s most successful companies, Accenture collaborates with clients to help them become high-performance businesses and governments. The company generated net revenues of US$21.6 billion for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2010.

Business Issue:
In Accenture, we employ a highly skilled and motivated workforce and we invest a lot in developing and training our people. Like many organisations, we struggle to retain a large proportion of our female employees and to advance our women to leadership positions.

Solution Applied:
Accent on Women (AoW) is a community and support network for women in Accenture and is focused on the retention and advancement of women in the firm. We provide mentoring, networking and training opportunities focused on the needs of our female employees. AoW includes a strong Maternity programme, which provides guidance to women preparing for maternity leave, support for women on maternity leave and assistance transitioning back into the workplace.The highlight in the calendar is our annual celebration of International Women’s Day (IWD).

Company Benefits:
The years between 2007 and 2010 saw an increase in the numbers of women at management levels rise from 35% to 42%. In 2010, 29% of employees at Senior Executive level were women. Accenture has also received positive feedback from clients who have sought advice with this issue for their own companies. There has also been the opportunity to participate with external panels and networks through this initiative.

Stakeholder Benefits:
There is a supportive working environment for women who choose a career in Accenture, with strong mentoring support provided, in addition to valuable training opportunities. Our Leadership team works with high performing women to ensure alignment to the right roles and clients for their continued success and advancement. The Maternity programme has provided support for expectant mothers and families at all stages, including flexible working arrangements. There are specific networking opportunities for women in Accenture, including our International Women’s Day celebrations.

When launching the Accent of Women programme, one of the key challenges was to secure buy in on the importance of the initiative, in particular, from the male population of Accenture. It was important for us to raise awareness amongst everyone in Accenture that ensuring a diverse workforce at all levels, including senior leadership, would be valuable for our business and that, unless, we targeted action at our women, this would not be achievable.

Engage male sponsors in the Accent on Women initiative to ensure that it is not seen as a women’s issue but rather as a business issue, which affects us all.

Solution Champion:
Gillian Cooney Human Capital & Diversity Lead: