This article first appeared in The Australian newspaper on Monday 8 March 2021.
From extra volunteering to the development of a new food delivery model, consulting firm Accenture reached out beyond its client base to assist local communities impacted by bushfires and COVID last year.
The firm helped call centres and banking services to continue through the crises along with offering staff more opportunities to volunteer during their regular working hours.
“We see responsible business in three dimensions: being a responsible business ourselves, being responsible citizens and being responsible with our clients,” chief executive Bob Easton said. “In response to the events of this extraordinary year, we have adapted and innovated to keep our communities running.”
Accenture’s work in 2020 has won it a finalist’s place in the Business Council of Australia’s awards, The Biggies, which recognise people and companies that made a significant contribution to civic life last year. Accenture is one of seven finalists in the Big Impact category.
In 2020, volunteering leave at Accenture was expanded from one to five days for any employees who supported the bushfires or the pandemic response. It also provided unlimited paid emergency services leave. A total of 14,438 volunteering hours and 9133 hours of pro-bono work were delivered over the year.
“We recognised pretty early on for both the bushfires and the COVID-19 pandemic that the majority of volunteering was done face-to-face,” Mr Easton said.
“We feared people would stop volunteering, because they were isolated at home. We wanted to give them every incentive to keep doing it. Employees should be able to continue helping their community without worrying about the security of their jobs.”
Accenture also raised $180,000 to support the bushfires, after it increased its donation matching to 100 per cent for bushfire and COVID-19 related causes.
In May 2020, in response to the impact COVID-19 was having on the company’s not-for-profit partners, Accenture launched its Social Innovation Challenge to develop solutions to rebuild livelihoods for vulnerable people, support virtual learning and assist with digitisation. It helped the Australian Business and Community Network (ABCN) digitise its programs to allow online delivery of material to students around the country. It also donated 140 laptops to ensure students from under-served communities were not disadvantaged by the digital divide. “We were delighted with the showcase and the team has been incredible,” said Amy Weaver, manager of digital projects at ABCN. “We have been extremely lucky to have this support.”
The team at Accenture also helped not-for-profit Eat Up — which provides lunches for vulnerable children in the community — to reinvent its delivery model as during lockdowns they delivered food to homes, not schools. By using a data dashboard developed by Accenture, the Eat Up team can calculate, optimise and communicate the social return on investment. In turn, they can collect data and insights to improve the effectiveness of their programs. “The amount of work (Accenture) has put in is quite astonishing,” Eat Up CEO Lyndon Galea said.
To learn more about The Biggies and see the finalists visit: www.thebiggies.com.au.