Johannesburg; December 06, 2018 – Following stringent amendments to the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) ICT Sector codes, Accenture South Africa has regained the Level 1 rating it first achieved in 2016 due largely to the impact of the company's significant skills development, preferential procurement, enterprise and supplier development, and socio-economic development initiatives.
In keeping with Accenture South Africa's broad impact empowerment approach, which includes a unique 30 percent equity shareholding by the broad-based fully black-owned Akha Trust, the company focused on initiatives that offer the greatest downstream benefits to both the country's previously disadvantaged citizens and the economy at large to achieve its 2018 B-BBEE objectives.
“Corporate citizenship is central to our vision to improve the way the world works and how people live, and it reflects our core values,” explains Vukani Mngxati, CEO for Accenture Africa. “We believe that no one should be discriminated against, and that government laws, regulations and business practices should uphold the principles of diversity, inclusion and equality. We have therefore worked deliberately and persistently over the past financial year to regain our Level 1 B-BBEE status.”
Accenture South Africa's empowerment strategy has focused on driving skills development, socio-economic development and preferential procurement programmes that have a broad impact on both the ICT sector and society as a whole.
“We believe empowerment efforts around skills development must underpin all other programmes if they are to be sustainable. This is needed to cultivate the skills needed to sustain Accenture’s success as a high-performance business, as well as that of our clients, partners and suppliers,” continues Mngxati.
In this regard, Accenture has invested over R200 million in leadership and skills development for black learners and employees between 2011 and 2018. In the 2018 financial year alone, Accenture spent more than R38 million on skills development for black employees to develop leaders and management.
“Our internal skills development programmes aims to support the career progression of our diverse talent. These programmes include Driving Stronger Performance, Leading Extraordinary Teams, an interactive learning programme called Excelling in High Performance and the Accenture Future Leaders apprenticeship programme,” elaborates Mngxati.
Outside of the organisation, Accenture has focused predominantly on three flagship socio-economic development programmes. These drive sustainable economic growth by helping graduates to secure gainful employment or to start their own business.
One such initiative is the Skills to Succeed Academy. “This interactive, digital learning program develops work readiness skills for the ICT and technical workforce and opens doors to employment opportunities,” explains Khethiwe Nkuna, Head of Corporate Citizenship and Inclusion and Diversity Lead for Accenture in Africa.
In South Africa, Accenture has focused efforts on programmes run by the Accenture Education Trust and the Accenture Foundation, which have proved to be extremely successful. “We work with five NGOs to identify and evaluate young previously disadvantaged individuals who exhibit significant potential. We recruit them in their respective locations and provide grants to enrol them in programmes that offer market-relevant and in-demand ICT technical skills, such as software development and programming.”
These programmes also expose candidates to the working world in a supported environment, which often leads to successful internships and, consequently, full-time employment. Between 2015 and 2018, 7,500 young people have been trained and placed into jobs, which represents a 90 percent success rate.
The Accenture Education Trust also provides scholarships to 30 financially disadvantaged school-leavers who are high academic performers and wish to study for a degree in computer science, information systems, information technology, informatics, or electronic or industrial engineering at any of six universities across the country.
This multi-year mentorship and career development program covers tuition and accommodation costs and provide students with a laptop. “We also assign each student to an Accenture mentor who exposes them to the corporate environment and a chance at a successful career after graduation” says Nkuna. This has proven to be an effective means to identify talent, with 72 percent of graduates joining the Accenture internship programme.
Accenture's Connectivity, Electricity and Education for Entrepreneurship (CE3) programme is another skills development initiative which serves as a catalyst for local economic development in rural communities.
The CE3 project, developed as a collaborative partnership between Accenture, the University of Notre Dame, and the Rural Development Company, strengthens existing businesses, creates employment and builds new businesses through the provision of clean affordable electricity, internet connectivity and ICT infrastructure.
“It also trains local residents in basic computing, entrepreneurship and workplace readiness skills to accelerate entrepreneurial outcomes in rural areas. Graduates are then able to serve local communities with the skills they acquire,” adds Nkuna.
Through this initiative, member farmers and local business now operate more efficiently as input costs are reduced.
Opportunities to access the market are also unlocked and the entire agricultural value chain is enhanced, which boosts economic activity in the area and benefits the entire community. To date, 2,500 young South Africans have benefited from the CE3 program.
And the benefits of another Skills Development initiative, the Accenture Employability Cadet Programme will soon be realised as the first intake of learners are set to graduate in 2019. This three-year program benefits 10 learners who live with a disability.
The participating candidates, who only require a matric certificate to qualify, receive a formal education and practical experience and mentoring in a real work environment. This empowers beneficiaries, producing motivated and skilled artisans who are capable of various job functions, in any working environment.
At the end of the training, candidates obtain three nationally recognised NQF5 qualifications in project management and IT development, in addition to three years of work experience in high-demand ICT skills, which will significantly improve their employability. Based on the success of the first intake, Accenture plans to expand the 2019 program to 15 cadets.
In terms of enterprise and supplier development, Accenture exceeds the B-BBEE requirements through its preferential procurement policies and its Enterprise Supplier Development Programme (ESDP).
In the 2017 financial year, Accenture’s total B-BBEE measured procurement from companies that are B-BBEE compliant exceeded 90 percent of total measured spend, and its enterprise and supplier development investment target of 5 percent of net profit after tax was also surpassed.
“Accenture is committed to supporting companies that are B-BBEE compliant over those that aren't. Our procurement processes also promote the use of black and black women-owned suppliers and business partners,” continues Mngxati.
The Accenture ESDP also includes executive training and mentoring for SME business owners, to assist them in building innovative, agile and sustainable businesses. It also provides business development support via opportunities within Accenture's supply chain, or those of its clients. “We are also committed to paying invoices less than 10 days after their submission to assist SMEs with cash flow,” adds Mngxati.
Despite the unquestionable success of these empowerment programs, Accenture plans to make further improvements in 2019. “We are committed to doing more to create greater opportunities and impact on even more lives. Despite achieving the highest B-BBEE rating possible we are not content to simply maintain the status quo. We will continue our efforts to exceed the minimum requirements to drive meaningful and sustainable change within South Africa,” concludes Mngxati.
Accenture is a leading global professional services company, providing a broad range of services and solutions in strategy, consulting, digital, technology and operations. Combining unmatched experience and specialised skills across more than 40 industries and all business functions – underpinned by the world’s largest delivery network – Accenture works at the intersection of business and technology to help clients improve their performance and create sustainable value for their stakeholders. With 459,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries, Accenture drives innovation to improve the way the world works and lives. Visit us at www.accenture.com.
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