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‘We Put a Tremendous Focus on Reskilling’ | How Accenture Empowers Employment

Accenture recently committed to equipping 250,000 people worldwide with the skills they need to find a job or build a business. But that’s only one of the ways this company is doing its part to empower employment. Learn more about how this company is reaching out to address the skills gap and help more Americans get back to work in the following Q&A with Jill Smart, Accenture’s Chief Human Resources Officer.

Many leaders are saying companies need to do their parts to bridge the skill gap.  Does Accenture have any initiatives to reskill current or potential employees to ensure future growth? Yes, on all fronts. We put a tremendous focus on reskilling – deeper skilling, new skilling – every word you could use around building skills – with our people, and we do it throughout their careers. In addition to the focus on our people, I am working with several leading companies as well as the administration [on many initiatives] to help close the skills gap.  In fact, Accenture played a key role in creating and launching an online course called Job Start 101, available to students at no cost. Also, we’re sending Accenture executives to community colleges to share their knowledge and experiences with students. Additionally, through our global corporate citizenship focus, Skills to Succeed, we have committed to equipping 250,000 people around the world by 2015 with the skills to get a job or build a business. And our people are very involved with more than 200 active initiatives around the world.

Accenture is particularly focused on building a diverse workforce.  What does having a diverse workforce means to Accenture? There are multiple dimensions to it. Although there is traditional diversity in terms of gender diversity, ethnic diversity, sexual orientation diversity – to us, diversity means much more than that – we take the widest possible view.  In particular, it means geographic diversity at all levels and generations. The other aspect of diversity we really need is about the skills and experiences our people have. That is a key focus for us to continue developing.

Accenture is one of many companies focused on helping veterans get back into the workforce. Why do you believe this is an important initiative? One, because with what they do for us, we need to do something for them. And by us, I don’t just mean Accenture, but our country. The other reason this is important is their great experience and skills. Being able to think on their feet, make quick decisions, take care of their people – it’s what we look for [in an employee].

Does Accenture have any initiatives in place to attract diverse workers or military veterans specifically? Absolutely. We have a range of programs, with a focus on mentoring individual veterans to help them find a job. For example, we recently hired one of the program’s mentees, and she’s helping me recruit veterans. As far as diversity, we’ve been doing some of these things for a while, such as developing long-term relationships with colleges and universities with diverse student bodies. We continue to stay focused on ensuring potential hires know about the inclusive and diverse environment we offer our more than 240,000 employees around the world.

What strategies do you believe are important for businesses to implement to help move the economy forward? One of the biggest things is making sure our government and educational systems know the skills we need in the future. Additionally, we need to help our people stay on top of their skill development. Accenture invested more than $800 million in training and developing our employees last year.

Speaking of skills, what skills do you see as most valuable in today’s businesses? One thing I’m really vocal about is the need to communicate. Workers need to be able to write, present, collaborate and really listen. They need those interpersonal and communication skills, and it’s a core skill our global workforce must continue to develop.

How do you describe the culture of Accenture? Great question. I was actually with a client today talking about our culture, and I asked someone we had recently hired, “What’s different about Accenture?”  The answer he gave was exactly what I believe about our culture. He said, “Three things stand out: One, we really live our core values. Second, there is no negative competition. Third, it is so collaborative. When you ask for help, you get it.”  It was almost like I’d told him what to say.

What advice do you have for your peers as they seek to empower employment at their organizations? Know what you need, where you need it, when you need it, and how to position your resources for success. You have to know that in advance, that’s often the hardest equation to solve. And, once you know that, then you have to know where the talent is. Although we receive more than 2 million resumes a year – it’s not a case of looking in all the normal places to get the best people. Of course, you need a compelling value proposition that’s real…not just on a recruiting brochure.

Mary Lorenz

About Mary Lorenz

Mary is a copywriter for CareerBuilder, specializing in B2B marketing and corporate recruiting best practices and social media. In addition to creating copy for corporate advertising and marketing campaigns, she researches and writes about employee attraction, engagement and retention. Whenever possible, she makes references to pop culture. Sometimes, those references are even relevant. A New Orleans native, Mary now lives in Chicago, right down the street from the best sushi place in the city. It's awesome.
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