Monday, April 5, 2010

Accenture Provides Roadmap for Consulting CSR

By advising the world’s most powerful firms in business practices, consultants have great opportunities to use their power for CSR-good. Although many consulting firms have not taken an introspective look at their own businesses’ CSR, Accenture’s 2008-2009 Corporate Citizenship report shows that the consulting industry has many chances to help propagate CSR practices. Their report provides a plethora of examples of ways a consulting firm can be socially responsible and set an example for their clients.

First steps towards sustainability

In its sustainability report, Accenture evaluates its own business and looks at how its advice influences its clients’ sustainability. Accenture’s own sustainability steps aer in their early stages, and involve a lot of promises about the future. They both reported its carbon footprint, and set targets to meet on carbon reduction. Of course, Accenture’s most important sustainability steps- meeting their targets- lie in the future.

CSR Strength in Numbers

Accenture, as is its business model, has surrounded itself with smart people. In 2008, it joined the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, and formed an environmental steering group. Relatedly, it also joined the U.N.’s Business Call to Action. Accenture also committed to the United Nations Global Compact, which describes ten basic principles supporting business’ obligation to protect global human rights. Joining coalitions of larger movements can be useful in encouraging companies to engage with CSR programs, and seems to have been a successful mode for Accenture.

Ethical rigor at the forefront

Accenture appears to be very strict on employee ethics. It is important that a firm with such a trusted role advising other large companies be ethically fastidious themselves. In 2009, they joined a global Anti-Corruption effort, but they also administer a rigorous compliance regime at the firm level, where most employees complete ethics training. Accenture emphasizes and frequently communicates its ethical code to employees, and fires on the first compliance offense as part of its zero-tolerance policy.

Two unique CSR programs

Two particularly cool aspects of Accenture’s program stand out. First, they adopted an offical Pro-Bono policy. Pro-bono work is a relatively untapped way that consultants can be socially responsible in measurable ways. Then, perhaps as part of the pro-bono effort, Accenture has launched a program called Skills to Succeed. Skills to Succeed lends out Accenture’s consultants to solve problems in microfinance, abroad, and in underserved communities domestically. Working together, these two programs have enormous power to help solve business problems in the interest of sustainability.

In total, Accenture’s sustainability report describes a large and established consultancy intent on doing good, and taking the first steps on a CSR journey.

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