I’ve been an advocate for diversity and inclusion in all its forms for a long time now, because I believe that when we work together and have multiple voices with differing perspectives coming to the table, we collectively become more powerful and produce better innovation, value and business outcomes.

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Making a point of including people whose viewpoints are different to our own helps augment that collective voice. And it’s not just about bringing those voices to the table, but encouraging and supporting active participation, too. As noted diversity advocate Vernā Myers puts it, “Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance.”

Rethinking I&D agenda

About six months ago, I was asked to take on the role of championing our community of women in Accenture Finance. When I stepped back and looked at our Finance organization’s efforts from an inclusion and diversity perspective, we have so much to be proud of.

I also felt like we could do more. We could be more inclusive by definition and focus on a broader I&D agenda. And, so, a small team and I started to think about what might be important—which became a journey of Reimagining Equality in Accenture Finance.

We started with rethinking and rearticulating the business case. It might seem blindingly obvious, but we asked, what is the business case for I&D? Why is it important?

We did a lot of research about I&D, both internally and externally, to build our business case. Accenture’s own research done over decades in this domain has been amazing and insightful. I also invested in my own personal learning, achieving a Certificate in Gender Diversity from INSEAD university.

All the research points to companies performing better financially when they have a diverse organization. In addition, it’s simply the right thing to do. We should show up in a way that reflects society, our clients and our ecosystem partners. And, thirdly, in the “war for talent,” we face the real need to tap into all available talent sources.

Inclusion is also absolutely critical—our people identify in different ways—through gender identity and expression, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, disability, family roles and many other aspects that make each individual unique. We need to not just have a diverse employee set, but celebrate our differences and create an environment where everyone feels a sense of belonging.

Four areas of focus

This research and our rearticulated business case is helping us to reimagine our culture of inclusion and diversity in Accenture Finance—to one where everyone feels part of the conversation and is valued for their differences and unique strengths.

To create inclusive ways of working that enable everyone to thrive and give their best, we landed on four strategic focus areas and a vision in each:

  • Gender – Create a gender-balanced workforce at all levels, where everyone feels they can belong, thrive and grow.
  • Ethnicity/Cross-cultural Diversity – Establish a culture where all ethnicities feel valued, heard, represented, and have an equal opportunity for progression.
  • Pride – Foster an environment where our LGBTI community feels safe and are able to bring their authentic selves to work.
  • Disability Inclusion and Mental Health – Be the industry role model for disability inclusion.

These four areas are where Accenture Finance is committing to in order to help our people work at their full potential. We are also reconsidering our policies, practices and processes in light of these areas to create a level playing field of opportunities and benefits.

Our I&D framework

Refreshing our I&D thinking and approach is setting the stage for more things we need to do in Accenture Finance to move forward. To enable our people to make inclusion and diversity part of their jobs—in every decision, every day—we are driving actions through a holistic I&D framework that includes bold leadership, an empowering environment and comprehensive actions.

In the short time we’ve reset our foundation, our leaders are actively and visibly demonstrating their personal commitments. Our people across communities are sharing their personal stories that resonate with others. We are having conversations we were never having before. We’re reframing questions. And we’re setting bold goals, among many other actions.

Step by step, we’re moving our Accenture I&D agenda of equality reimagined forward.

Julie Spillane

Managing Director – Finance, Commercial Management

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