September 18, 2020
Accenture plays a pivotal role in sparking change
By: Ben Ngobi

Ben Ngobi

Sustainable supply networks connect the dots so we can do good for both our planet and our communities, Global Procurement Sustainability Lead Ben Ngobi explains.

When Ben Ngobi graduated from university with a specialist degree in development, he saw the United Nations as the surest route for channeling his energy and knowledge into helping communities.

“When I left university, I just felt like I wanted to change the world,” Ben recalls.

He spent some time working for third-sector organizations, while at the same time applying to the UN family of organisations. He made it into the late stages of the UN selection process but did not land the role.

His path eventually led him instead to Accenture, where he’s now Global Procurement Sustainability Lead.

“This was really my destiny,” he says. “The beauty is I still get to work with the UN. in the Global Compact UK network,” he says, referring to the world’s largest voluntary corporate sustainability initiative, “along with other corporates taking action on sustainability.”

At Accenture, Ben sees perhaps even greater potential to change the world than he imagined.

“Accenture has such a pivotal role that it can play,” Ben says. “We are in over 50 countries and spend billions of dollars buying goods and services. So if you make a change here, you can impact so many people positively around the world.”

In his role leading how Accenture engages suppliers on the sustainability side, he was part of the Accenture team that participated in the COP 21 Paris Climate Conference.

“One of the phrases I left with on the day was: ‘Corporations are born global, governments are local’ – meaning corporations working together jointly have such leverage to make change everywhere, whereas governments often can only make change that is local – with some exceptions.”

For a networked company like Accenture, however, reducing emissions means you have to work with others – suppliers as well as clients – to be more accountable and better measure environmental impact. For every good and service, there’s an emission generated.

“We need to collectively report and be transparent on emissions so we know whether our partners are taking steps to make improvements,” Ben says. “By joining forces and all being transparent, you know who is doing well and who could do better. You learn from those who are doing well and help those who are not able to measure their emissions.”

This is where Accenture’s wider aspirations of finding value, creating value and doing good, intersect. Finding fresh solutions, means looking in new places and diversifying the pool of suppliers. To foster innovation, Accenture has a Diverse Supplier Development Programme to mentor companies, particularly female, LBGT and minority-owned businesses. Accenture helps these companies improve their environmental performance, but also raises awareness of key issues around human rights.

To help do this, Ben co-chairs MSDUK, or Minority Supplier Development UK, an organisation that champions ethnic minority-owned businesses. It also ensures Accenture is plugged into the UK network of firms advancing inclusion of underrepresented businesses.

It’s an additional platform for engaging entrepreneurs in global discussions on pressing issues such as eliminating modern slavery from the supply chain, the climate crisis, and sharing insights from social mobility programs such as Movement to Work.

“We have to be an ecosystem,” he says. “You cannot be an ecosystem by yourself, you need to find the right innovations to find the right sustainable business products, or responsible businesses and services. We need to go out and build an ecosystem that helps us.”

In addition to Ben’s work with MSDUK, Accenture is supporting similar NGOs around the world at board level to help prepare small businesses for the future.

“A lot of our clients are also helping these groups so there’s a lot of common interest to do good in our communities,” Ben says. “If you only focus on one group when you’re having a tender, or you’re not inclusive enough, then you’re leaving value on the table.”

Read how we are creating positive impact in the UK for our people, our communities and our planet.

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