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Raising awareness of diversity through mentoring
REFLECTING on the importance of promoting inclusiveness at Accenture, one of the consulting firm's managing directors, Grant Spooner, mentored a student who is deaf over a 12-week period last year, helping to prepare him for the working world. Accenture ended up hiring the student, NUS chemical engineering student Lionel Tan, who will be joining the company as an IT consultant in August 2018.
"Accenture's goal is to help all our people be the best that they can, professionally and personally. In that sense, we don't see Lionel's integration into Accenture, or his journey with us as an employee, as being very different from any other new hire's. Lionel was hired for what we think he brings to the organisation - he's tech savvy, bright and business focused. That's the key," said Mr Spooner, who is the MD champion for Accenture Singapore's inclusion and diversity initiatives.
Mr Spooner's interaction with Mr Tan took place as part of SG Enable's RISE Mentorship programme, where students with disabilities from tertiary institutions are paired with executives from corporates. Students are exposed to activities such as mock job interviews, networking sessions and resume writing. Accenture has participated in three runs of the RISE initiative, mentoring seven students with disabilities in the process.
"The mentors have helped the mentees make other connections, and grow their personal networks. And the mentors have found it a hugely rewarding experience - helping the mentees however they can, but also learning a great deal from them," said Mr Spooner.
He noted that RISE has played a key part in helping some mentees find work or other opportunities, or helping them make choices about their next step in life, as some are still studying and not yet looking for work.
Accenture also hopes to raise awareness of the different types and impact of disabilities through programmes like RISE. "Through interactions via RISE we want to increase familiarity and awareness of disability and make the unknown, known. In turn that helps to reduce any perceived barriers there may be to the recruitment of persons with disabilities. We ultimately want to focus on the person and their abilities, not their disabilities," explained Mr Spooner.
Beyond mentoring, Accenture conducted a talk about pursuing a career in consulting at last year's SG Enable Training and Career Fair. The firm has also received a certificate of recognition for their efforts in inclusive hiring at the 4th Enabling Employers Awards in 2017.
These various efforts are part of Accenture's ambition to become no less than the most inclusive and diverse company in the world, revealed Mr Spooner.
"Creating an inclusive and diverse workplace not only makes us stronger and more innovative, it is also the right thing to do. We believe each person has unique skills, talent and strengths to contribute. Our ambition is to provide our clients with the best talent in the world and there should be no barrier to uncovering talent due to a disability - whether hidden or visible," he said.