Benjamin Mays, mentor to Martin Luther King, once said: “He who starts behind in the great race of life, must forever remain behind, or run faster than the man in front.” Mays’ comments were made in the context of the 1960s civil rights movement in America, but could just as easily apply to inequalities today—and with regard to our digital future.
We innovate every day at Accenture to build more inclusive societies and to create a positive, meaningful impact. To support our efforts, our Chairman & CEO Pierre Nanterme recently announced that Accenture is committing more than $200 million over the next three years to help equip people around the world with job skills for the digital age.
I’m proud to lead Corporate Citizenship for an organization that truly “walks the walk” and know this investment comes at a critical time for those who are facing disruption and change in many societies and economies.
Accenture research shows that vulnerable and marginalized populations could face a “double disadvantage” in the future, due to an inability to adapt as the world economy puts greater emphasis on digital skills. For example, while 40 percent of workers with lower secondary degrees are in jobs with a high risk of automation, less than 5 percent of workers with a university-level degree face the same challenge.
I’ve seen this kind of double disadvantage firsthand while working with underserved populations in places such as rural Tanzania, and through Accenture’s nonprofit partnerships around the world. And I’ve also witnessed the immediate benefit of providing people with education and skills to support themselves in this new digital era.
When I met Sarwari during my travels in India, she shared her dream of becoming economically independent, but lacked the skills to get a job. With the help of the Anudip Foundation, one of our Skills to Succeed partners, she gained workplace, digital and English skills, as well as financial literacy.
Sarwari now works at a technology company on crowdsourced digital tasks such as image tagging and annotation work for applications like making machine-vision safer for driverless cars. “Training changed the way I think,” she told me. “It gave me a feeling of pride and freedom.”
Equipping the world with Skills to Succeed
Since launching our Skills to Succeed corporate citizenship initiative nearly 10 years ago, we have equipped more than 2.2 million people with the skills to get a job or build a business, and have set an aggressive goal to reach a total of more than 3 million people by 2020.
As a global employer, we are committed to doing our part—not just as a funder and strategic partner, but also as an enthusiastic employer of individuals who have overcome disadvantages and are now equipped with job readiness and market-relevant skills through Skills to Succeed.
I am always inspired to hear stories of how our efforts are helping change the lives of our beneficiaries.
In the U.K., for example, we are a founding partner of Movement to Work and are teaming across sectors to provide unemployed young people from disadvantaged backgrounds with job opportunities in technology. Through our partnership, Michelle Taylor secured an apprenticeship at Accenture, ultimately resulting in a full-time role as a Software Engineering Associate.
And in India, we’ve developed an AI-powered, 24/7 interview practice aid that uses emotions analytics, voice and facial recognition to help Her Second Innings prepare women to reenter the workforce after a career break.
Technology for good
We’re also working with our clients to improve how the world works and lives. Accenture Labs’ Tech4Good projects use advanced technologies to help solve critical challenges facing business and society, and Accenture Development Partnerships apply business and technology solutions to build capacity and strengthen programs in the International Development sector around the globe.
With expertise across more than 40 industries and all business functions, the people of Accenture are turning their ideas into innovations that put people first—to help them succeed and grow. Our focus is finding new ways to apply technology and invention to create a positive and lasting impact for people and communities.
I’m honored to work with our people worldwide and with an ecosystem of diverse partners, helping us live our vision to improve the way the world works and lives. Together, we look forward to the possibilities ahead as we help improve millions of lives around the world, now and for the future.
Put people first and do work that is truly improving the way the world works and lives. Find an opportunity with Accenture.
KEYWORDS: Accenture, Corporate Citizenship, job skilling, reskilling, digital, Social Impact, Education, NYSE:ACN