Why businesses can be changemakers

Growing inequality and climate change are big and complex challenges that affect almost every economic activity. Partnering with stakeholders from all sectors is therefore key to co-creating innovative and sustainable solutions.

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Businesses can play an important role in contributing to solutions for the pressing societal and environmental challenges. Creating a sustainable environment that is favorable for doing business is imperative. In order to find opportunities for societal change and growth, ideas must come from a broad and diffuse network. This requires new forms of innovation such as digital, collaborative, low tech, frugal, open or social.

Having a positive impact goes to the heart of Accenture’s strategy: bringing the skills of our people around the world to solve complex problems and deliver innovation, regardless of where these problems arise. Our Accenture Way is very clear:

We are passionate about improving the way the world works and lives

Our journey as a changemaker started many years ago. It has culminated in programs such as Skills to Succeed, through which together with our partners and people, we are helping to close skills and employment gaps for vulnerable and marginalized people. Today, social innovation is an integral part of how we do business. And with each new generation joining Accenture, the desire to measure business success beyond financial performance increases. Millennials are looking for meaningful work they can be proud of and for responsible employers that take the environment and local communities into account when doing business.

Changemaking in Belgium

Seeking innovative and impactful ways to create positive change and new market opportunities is a characteristic Accenture is proud to share with social entrepreneurs. They are ambitious and persistent in the way they tackle major societal issues, offering new ideas for systems-level change. They are driven first and foremost by a sense of purpose and a desire to have a social impact. Nevertheless, they create financially viable and sustainable organizations. Ashoka has been leading the social entrepreneurship scene for many years and has the world’s largest network of more than 3,600 such entrepreneurs spanning 90 countries.

Since 2013, Ashoka and Accenture have co-created several initiatives in Belgium to support social entrepreneurs working on employment and integration solutions. One of the leading initiatives is the Impact Programme, an accelerator program for high-potential social entrepreneurs. Selected entrepreneurs receive four months of personal coaching and participate in several seminars given by experts in the field. This is an intensive journey through which they are exposed to notions of scaling their impact and becoming more professionalized and sustainable social businesses. By translating our experience and assets into strategic frameworks that benefit these social entrepreneurs, Accenture brings a new and valuable perspective to their work.

Expanding the experiences of our people

For the fourth consecutive year, 13 highly motivated Accenture employees were involved as coaches in the Impact Programme. Sharing their knowledge in this context is not only personally rewarding, they also develop new skills and have new experiences. By working in smaller and less hierarchical organizations and in lean and agile teams, they are given more responsibilities, quickly gain confidence and add value at the heart of the organization’s strategy. Social entrepreneurs and their coaches also learn from each other, so it becomes a win-win experience. As a result, our coaches are all eager to continue supporting social entrepreneurs in the future.

Anil (coach MWFund):

“I am grateful for this opportunity because it allowed me to use my skills in a startup organization that would otherwise not be able to receive professional support in this way. The possibility to work with a social purpose and see the immediate impact on the way these entrepreneurs see their organization made me proud.”

Marcin (coach The Good Lobby - winner 2018 edition):

“Collaborating with Ashoka to support The Good Lobby was a unique experience that allowed me to grow both professionally and personally. I was challenged to refine and revisit my own skillset and knowledge to support my counterpart in his unique context, making the experience a two-way learning exchange.”

The story of DiversiCom : making disability work

At the end of each Impact Programme, the most promising social enterprise, which proves itself ready for scaling, is awarded 100 pro bono consulting days from Accenture to work on a specific project that will allow it to increase its impact.

In 2016, the winner was DiversiCom, whose objective is to integrate more people with disabilities in the marketplace. The Impact Programme helped DiversiCom to structure its organization and make it more efficient, thus enabling them to fully focus on growing its core business. In the past two years, DiversiCom has helped more than 300 disabled people to find a job in Belgium and the team continues to grow.

Marie-Laure (founder of DiversiCom):

“The Impact Programme benefited Diversicom in three main ways: firstly, Accenture built our CRM platform so we could share information about candidates more efficiently. The time we saved by doing this allowed us to focus on solving other concerns and expand the company’s reach. Secondly, we obtained a Salesforce license for free, based on Accenture’s recommendation, which benefited the company’s finances. This freed up budget we can now invest in helping more people. And last but not least, collaboration was great with the Accenture consultants, who were all very committed and believed in the cause. Their enthusiasm was an added value!”

Authors: Magali Frankl Serge Lhoste