Building a better working world
For our communities
Our efforts to support our communities reflect our expertise and where we can have the greatest impact. We believe the most significant impact we can have on society is by supporting global and local economic stability and growth, which in turn provides opportunities to address some of the major issues that the world is facing.
We support organizations and activities that contribute to building a better working world at the global, regional and local level. We are proud to be part of the largest voluntary corporate responsibility initiative in the world, the UN Global Compact. We have pledged to uphold its 10 universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labor, the environment and anticorruption. Each year we report on our progress to that end.
Corporate Sustainability Leader, Ernst & Young Japan
A long-term commitment
In March 2011, the Tohoku earthquake and subsequent tsunami left widespread damage across much of Japan, with many communities reduced to rubble. The emergency response was immediate and well organized. Two years later, while many of the physical signs of the destruction have been repaired, the region is still recovering.
In the aftermath of the disaster, educational support in the region was fragmented. In response, Ernst & Young conducted an in-depth survey of educational needs across the region. With those needs indentified, we then linked businesses that could provide financial support with non-profit organizations that could address the needs.
“Traditionally, the private sector had not been involved in disaster response in Japan. However, the scale of the destruction in 2011 meant new solutions were needed. Ernst & Young, and other businesses, came forward to supplement the government’s efforts around reconstruction,” says Kazutaka Okubo, Ernst & Young’s Corporate Sustainability Leader in Japan.
“Today, there is greater recognition of the part that the private sector can play in reconstruction efforts such as this, and Ernst & Young has been recognized by government for our role. We remain fully committed to supporting the community in Northeastern Japan and, in particular, developing local leaders who will drive growth and prosperity in the region long into the future,” says Okubo.
Ernst & Young and Keio University’s Global Security Research Institute have also developed a leadership training program that brings together young leaders from government, the media, academia and community organizations.
“We are bringing in experienced leaders to share insights, creating a forum for networking and providing the opportunity to participate in hands-on projects,” continues Okubo. “This program is about equipping the next generation of leaders to help create long-term solutions.”
The continuing aftershocks of the global financial crisis highlight the importance of public confidence in the capital markets. We are acutely aware of our important role in promoting transparency and supporting investor confidence and economic growth. This is one way in which we are working to build a better working world.
Clients, regulators and our stakeholders count on us to deliver quality and excellence in everything we do. Regular dialogue with our stakeholders is a priority for us and what we hear helps inform our views and actions. We support policy reforms that contribute to increased investor confidence in reporting and audit and strengthening corporate governance.
We promote economic and social prosperity by contributing to the debate taking place around the world on sound governance policies and transparency across both financial and increasingly non-financial information. To this effect, we have regular communication with standard setters such as the Financial Accounting Standards Board and the International Accounting Standards Board. We are known for our expertise in these areas and can bring together regulators, business leaders, non-governmental organizations and academics to convene and stimulate the debate on what should be done to improve the working world for the benefit of all.
For example, over the past 15 years, we have been a Strategic Partner of the World Economic Forum (WEF), working to shape future economic development and share our insights with the world’s most influential business leaders, politicians and academics. And we are a signatory to WEF’s Partnering Against Corruption Initiative (PACI). PACI’s mission is to develop multi-industry principles and practices that will result in a competitive and level playing field based on integrity, fairness and ethical conduct. We are also a member of the International Integrated Reporting Committee, which is working to create a globally accepted integrated-reporting framework that brings together financial, environmental, social and governance information in a clear, concise, consistent and comparable format.
As strong advocates of transparency in business, we lead by example by publishing an annual global transparency report, which provides an overview of our global governance and quality standards. With the growing importance that investors place on transparency, since 2006 we have sponsored some of Transparency International’s most widely distributed studies to support them in their mission to stop corruption and promote transparency, accountability and integrity at all levels and across all sectors of society.
We are also active members of the International Corporate Governance Network, participating in a number of investor groups in different countries, to raise the standards of corporate governance worldwide.
Recognizing that entrepreneurs are one of the greatest sources of sustainable economic growth, we are focused on working with entrepreneurs at all stages of development. This includes our suite of specialized services and tailored programs for entrepreneurs, as well as our people donating their time and skills to support start-up entrepreneurs across the world.
Each year, we recognize some of the most successful entrepreneurs from around the globe through the Entrepreneur Of the Year program. At our annual World Entrepreneur Of The Year event, we bring together entrepreneurs representing 50 different countries from a wide range of industries and backgrounds, and they have often built some of the world’s leading companies.
Our Entrepreneurial Winning Women program specifically targets women entrepreneurs with medium-sized businesses who have the potential for significant growth. This is a leadership program that connects a select group of high-potential women entrepreneurs with the advisors, resources and insights they need to become market leaders. Once selected, the entrepreneurs participate in an ongoing, customized program to catalyze their companies’ growth by building and fostering critical relationships, enhancing leadership skills, expanding business know-how and providing increased visibility.
We also work with entrepreneurs who are just starting out. We encourage our people to donate their skills to smaller ventures that otherwise could not access such sophisticated advice – but that still have the potential to contribute significantly to the economy of a household, a village or an entire nation. In the process, we are improving the lives of an ever-widening circle of people who work for, sell to and are served by their businesses.
We also believe it is important to reach the next generation of entrepreneurs who will play a role in building future sustainable growth long into the future. For the past several years, Ernst & Young has collaborated with the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE), a global not-for-profit organization focused solely on bringing entrepreneurship education to low-income teenagers at risk of dropping out of school. Many of our people volunteer as NFTE coaches, judges and mentors.
Global Markets Leader, Strategic Growth Markets, Ernst & Young
Connecting with entrepreneurs
“Many of the entrepreneurs we work with through our relationship with Endeavor are potential market leaders,” says Randall Tavierne, Global Markets Leader, Strategic Growth Markets and coordinating partner for our sponsorship of the not-for-profit organization.
“One of the entrepreneurs we recently met is a Uruguayan who’s developed an inexpensive point-of-sale system specifically for small retailers. It helps them better manage their inventories and pricing, and benefits the large consumer-products companies that supply them, too. It’s got potential to spread across Latin America and is a great example of taking developed-market technology and processes and adapting them for emerging markets.”
Founded in 1997, Endeavor connects potential high-impact entrepreneurs with a network of seasoned business leaders, who provide mentoring, strategic advice and inspiration. It screens thousands of entrepreneurs in emerging markets each year to find those with the highest potential to improve their local economies. It is currently working with more than 700 entrepreneurs who have created 200,000 jobs and generate more than US$5 billion in annual revenue.
Selected Ernst & Young volunteers spend up to eight weeks working in the field, helping Endeavor-backed entrepreneurs while also building their professional skills in areas such as financial management and operational efficiency. To date, our people have worked with entrepreneurs in 12 countries, including Brazil, Egypt, South Africa and Turkey.
“Our work with Endeavor is building a better working world in a number of ways,” explains Randall. “Most importantly, Endeavor entrepreneurs are really driving economic growth in their communities. Our people have the opportunity to build their skills while making a difference in the community. Lastly, it helps Ernst & Young identify and build relationships with some of tomorrow’s market leaders, a key goal of our Strategic Growth Markets practice.”
Education is vital to the long-term health of any society. It allows young people to live up to their full potential and contribute to their families and communities both socially and economically. We invest in the education of tomorrow’s workforce to ensure that the skills and characteristics required to enable businesses and societies to thrive are available.
Our educational efforts are focused on ensuring that the full range of talent in our local communities have the opportunity to be included in the working world. While this is a global focus, by necessity our initiatives must be tailored to local requirements. Educational systems and access vary greatly from country to country. Poverty, cultural barriers and many other factors keep children out of school, cut short their educational careers or fail to equip them with the necessary skills and aspirations. We participate in a number of locally based programs to address specific barriers and reach young people in their communities.
In some cases, our participation involves our people volunteering their time to coach, mentor or teach young and underserved students. For example, volunteers who participate in our US-based initiative College MAP (Mentoring for Access and Persistence) help underprivileged students manage the process of pursuing and funding a university education, encouraging students who might not have considered this an option. The volunteers help the students build the skills they need to complete their degrees.
In other cases, we have developed programs such as NextGen. Launched in South Africa, the program empowers the next generation of women leaders in Africa, with the goal of helping high-potential, disadvantaged female students access opportunities and tools to succeed and focus their talents on Africa. Participants complete an innovative course in leadership, entrepreneurship and African studies.
Advisory Partner, Ernst & Young India
“When you live in Mumbai, the fast pace and increasing wealth is all around you. And then you do a bit of traveling and go around the country; the disparity really hits you,” says Ashish Pherwani, an Ernst & Young advisory partner in India.
Rural India remains cripplingly poor. The transient nature of agricultural workers’ lives often means their children don’t stay anywhere long enough to get an education.
To combat the cycle of poverty, and on top of working in Risk Advisory at Ernst & Young, Ashish supports Bal Nandanvan Nisargashala, a free residential school in a tiny tribal village in interior Maharashtra. More than 360 children, ages 5–16, live at the school, where they are fed, clothed and educated.
“One day I got an email from the Ernst & Young Foundation to all employees in India saying that if there is any community project that you’re really passionate about, tell us about it, and we’d like to get involved and help you as well. And I thought: this is awesome. Now all contributions made by any Ernst & Young employee to my school project, the EY Foundation matches,” says Ashish.
The Ernst & Young Foundation seeks to provide financial and management support to community projects to benefit the underprivileged, like the school that Ashish supports.
“The school is having a tangible benefit on the students. The literacy rate has improved by about 40% in the surrounding villages and so has the health of the students. The area is also known to have a high crime rate because of no education, no employment and that has also come down,” continues Ashish.
“I just love the fact that Ernst & Young cares about a community initiative that I care about. It’s my dream to see every child who attends the school breaks out of the poverty cycle and reach their full potential. We want these children to be successful in any profession they take up.”
Addressing climate change
Climate change has become a topic of increasing importance in communities and boardrooms across the globe. Business leaders worldwide understand that there are risks and opportunities presented by the changing climate, both to their operations directly and to the products and services they provide.
Our Climate Change and Sustainability Services (CCaSS) practice guides our clients through both the challenges and the opportunities related to climate change, whether it’s by transforming business processes, changing purchasing patterns, recognizing incentives for greater responsibility or responding to policy risk. And our Global Cleantech Center brings together a network of experts who understand the business dynamics of the clean technology marketplace to help clients find new sources of growth, efficiency, sustainability and competitive advantage.
We minimize our own environmental impact wherever we can. We are taking measurable actions to reduce our carbon footprint by improving energy efficiency in our offices and eliminating unnecessary business travel – our two main sources of emissions. And we are making sure that our people understand the implications of climate change. Our network of volunteer environmental champions is made up of individuals who are passionate about taking steps to make our organization greener and building a more sustainable environment. The network has organized locally based initiatives such as recycling drives and educational programs to engage our people in making behavioral changes.
In addition, through our relationship with the Earthwatch Institute, our people travel to fragile ecosystems to conduct field research on the impact of climate change, while also using their professional skills to support local businesses. Our people return with a greater understanding of climate change and often join our network of volunteer environmental champions.