For Consortium corporate partner Accenture, diversity is about more than numbers.
“We can’t just say we want to be diverse; we have to actually have things in place and spend our money in places where we show up and say, ‘We stand against racism. We don’t tolerate this,’” says Melissa Davis, Strategy campus inclusion & diversity lead at Accenture. “We want to make sure we have a more diverse workforce to lead that effort, because then people will know that we actually do what we say we’re going to do. We don’t just talk about it.”
Part of walking the talk, Accenture has supported The Consortium as a premiere partner for 10-plus years — a partnership that’s included serving as a career track lead sponsor of The Consortium’s annual Orientation Program & Career Forum (OP) for several years.
Accenture actively recruits and embraces team members who bring a different perspective and a different approach to problem solving. Davis says this goes beyond ethnic and racial diversity to include people of different faiths, educational levels and backgrounds (single parents, caregivers for elderly parents, first-generation college students and more, she notes).
“We’re a big melting pot, but that’s what differentiates us from other consulting firms,” says Davis. “I think our people are really what make us so unique.”
While COVID-19 has challenged the company in new ways — striving to attract diverse talent and be more inclusive while also being flexible with candidates, Davis says — Accenture has been developing new approaches to recruiting diverse employees. With hiring goals in place to bring in more Black and Hispanic associates, the company has created initiatives like its Diversity Referral Bonus Program to drive these efforts.
Understanding that money is a big motivator, Accenture now rewards employees for referring diverse candidates. “There is a monetary bonus tied to a diverse referral that gets paid out to employees once their referral joins full time,” says Davis. “It’s a great way to find great talent and provide an incentive for current employees to think about who they know in their network that could be a fit at Accenture.”
Another way Accenture is working to expand access to its ranks is through a two-pronged initiative, the first piece of which is designed to reduce the number of qualifications for jobs.
“We’ve all seen the job descriptions that are a mile long, and I’m thinking, ‘No one’s going to meet those — nobody,’” says Davis. “We felt like we were really limiting the number of people who could qualify to even be selected to interview.”
The second piece of the initiative, which is still in development, will provide training to prospective employees around what consulting is and how to be a consultant. It is similar to the company’s Junior Military Officer Program, which helps ex-military pivot into civilian careers.
“The plan is for a 16- to 20-week boot camp, and from there, that person graduates into a full-time role,” Davis says. “A lot of times, our hiring managers want someone who has consulting experience, and that is usually a barrier for a lot of people, a barrier to entry, because they may not have worked in the industry. That keeps them out of the pool, but they have great experience. So, this meets those people who are in the middle and who would fall through that gap if we didn’t have a program like this.”
When it comes to MBAs specifically, Accenture provides a clear path and plenty of support. Through its Accenture Strategy Consultant Development Program (ASCDP), the company offers MBA summer consultants 10 weeks of professional development and training, as well as some additional perks such as tuition reimbursement should they receive and accept a full-time offer. Those MBAs then remain in ASCDP for 15 months before moving up in the company.
“It’s a very clear pathway to move up in the firm through that program,” says Davis.
Despite its size — Accenture has 537,000 employees worldwide — the company looks at everyone from an individual perspective in order to help each person achieve his or her version of success, because, as Davis notes, “our culture is about our people.
“Not everyone has the same goals,” she says. “But I think it’s important that we support people who want to progress through their career and who want to continue learning.”
Although attracting a diverse workforce — and ensuring an environment in which its members are able to succeed — is not always easy, Accenture is putting in the effort. More than words, the company is proving what’s possible with a little hard work.
“You have to constantly be putting in the effort,” says Davis. “None of us are perfect. We have a long way to go, but I feel like we’re honest and transparent about the work we need to do and how we’re trying to make these things happen.”