ACCENTURE:  Moving The Needle on Supplier Diversity 


Accenture Moving Needle on Supplier Diversity

Accenture: Moving the Needle on Supplier Diversity – By Sesley Brown, North America Supplier Inclusion & Diversity Senior Manager, Accenture. Originally published in WBE Canada Magazine; Issue 11. Read our full magazine HERE.

 

At Accenture, we strongly believe that incorporating inclusive procurement practices not only benefits our clients and communities but also ensures responsible business conduct. By promoting supplier inclusion, we aim to help our suppliers thrive in their markets, fostering shared success among all stakeholders.

Our Supplier Inclusion & Sustainability Program operates on a global scale, reaching 22 countries in fiscal year 2023, with plans to expand to more countries in fiscal year 2024 and beyond. We collaborate closely with our Accessibility Center of Excellence to establish accessibility roadmaps for our web-based technology. We define diverse suppliers based on categories such as minority, women, small- and medium-sized, service-disabled veterans, historically underutilized, people with disabilities, and LGBTI-owned enterprises.

Also, we regularly track our diverse spend within the United States and Canada. In fiscal year 2022, our U.S. diverse spend increased from 32% in fiscal year 2021 to 47%. Our Canadian spend rose from 25% to 34% during the same period. Notably, Accenture’s diverse spending in North America (U.S. and Canada) reached approximately 1 billion for the first time.

Since 2006, our commitment to supplier inclusion and diversity has been translated into action through the Global Diverse Supplier Development Program (DSDP). This program provides intensive 18-month mentoring to diverse suppliers, connecting them with senior Accenture executives and client mentors. To graduate from the DSDP, mentees must attend monthly meetings, participate in training sessions, complete business health assessments, and provide quarterly progress reports.
Recently, we introduced the DSDP Sustainability pilot program. It focuses on sustainability principles outlined by the United Nations Global Compact and the Sustainable Development Goals. This initiative helps suppliers transition towards building responsible business models, contributing to climate action and human rights.

Our objective is to foster a culture of sharing knowledge, experiences, and resources to achieve collaborative success.

Each year, we continuously enhance our Diverse Supplier Development Program (DSDP). In fiscal year 2021, we successfully introduced a digital tool aimed at providing small- and medium-sized enterprises with easier access to information and opportunities for diverse partnerships. This digital ecosystem, developed by a DSDP graduate in South Africa, streamlines interactions between diverse suppliers and businesses, promoting growth and sustainability through development, commercial opportunities, and adaptation to the digital era. During the pandemic, the tool has enabled us to conduct all DSDP programming virtually.

Our program continues to evolve through digitization efforts, utilizing technology tools like the Sustainable Procurement Hub (The Hub) to streamline supplier environmental, social, and governance assessments.
We are actively working on increasing the number of suppliers who report their sustainability performance. For instance, we encourage suppliers to disclose emissions reduction targets, actions, and regularly assess their supply chains.

To promote awareness of procurement’s positive impact on sustainability, Accenture has partnered with the Sustainable Procurement Pledge (SPP). The SPP is a global, nonprofit community empowering procurement professionals with knowledge, tools, and behaviour to embed sustainability into their daily activities. We actively support the SPP, participating in leadership and advisory panels.

Investments in new technology and processes enable us to gain greater visibility into our suppliers’ environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance. The Hub, introduced in fiscal 2021 and now expanding globally, enhances transparency by allowing suppliers to share their human rights policies and sustainability practices. Moreover, it facilitates due diligence for buyer selection, onboarding, and ad hoc ESG assessments. Currently operational in several countries, we plan further deployments and program enhancements in fiscal 2024. To date, The Hub has conducted numerous sustainability assessments, providing valuable insights into our suppliers’ ESG performance.

As we strive to create more sustainable and inclusive supply chains, we acknowledge the importance of an ethical procurement strategy that aligns with our core values and Code of Business Ethics (COBE).

This strategy is a fundamental aspect of our business practices, influencing Accenture employee training, supplier selection criteria, and the development of our business conduct standards.

To promote greater transparency within our supply chains, we require suppliers to adhere to our Supplier Standards of Conduct (SSoC), which complement our COBE, or to make an equivalent commitment. We communicate these standards through various means, such as contractual terms, the Supplier’s Guide to Doing Business with Accenture, and the purchase order process. We continuously emphasize our commitment to these standards when communicating with the suppliers registered in our supplier portal. Moreover, for suppliers who agree to an equivalent commitment, we have invested in enhancing our governance framework, aligning it with the new Sustainable Procurement Hub operating model.

Our SSoC reflects our endorsement of the Ten Principles of the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), and we have consistently upheld these principles since joining the UNGC. These standards are available in multiple languages, outlining labour standards, human rights principles, and other legal and ethical requirements that our SSoC expects in all business dealings.

Furthermore, we expect our suppliers to extend these standards to their own suppliers, thereby cascading the impact of our ethical procurement strategy. Our commitment to responsible business compels us to continuously evolve our global SSoC. For instance, in fiscal year 2022, we updated our trade control requirements.
Additionally, on an annual basis, we review our supply chain strategy through the lens of our COBE and the UNGC Ten Principles, aiming to set industry standards for maintaining an ethical supply chain. This effort is particularly crucial as we continually encourage our suppliers to pay fair wages, reflecting our dedication to making a positive impact in the industry.

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Sesley BrownSesley Brown

Sesley Brown is the North America Supplier Inclusion & Diversity Lead at Accenture. She manages the workstream of Accenture’s award-winning Global Diverse Supplier Development Program (DSDP) in seven geographies. Sesley considers the buildup of Accenture’s award-winning mentoring program, DSDP, as her biggest accomplishment, growing small and medium-sized diverse businesses through innovation. Sesley possesses over 20+ years of Procurement, Category Management, Supply Chain and Supplier Inclusion & Diversity experience. She is honored with multiple recognition awards, such as Top Women in Power Impacting Diversity by Diversity Plus Magazine, Greater Women’s Business Council (GWBC) Advocate of the Year and Georgia Minority Supplier Development Council (GMSDC) Buyer of the Year- Staffing Services. She sits on the board of the Greater Women’s Business Council (GWBC). Sesley is a native of Atlanta and holds a Master of Public Administration from Clark Atlanta University and a Bachelor of Science degree from Savannah State University.