5 minute read 17 Dec 2019
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How to impact a billion lives for the better

5 minute read 17 Dec 2019

EY aims to positively impact 250 million lives by 2025, and 1 billion lives by 2030.

At EY, one of the ways we build a better working world is through EY Ripples, a program that mobilizes EY people and networks, tapping into their unique skills and knowledge to achieve a long-term vision: to positively impact one billion lives by 2030. We aim to start ripples that will join with others, ultimately creating huge waves of change over the next decade.

At first glance, the EY Ripples targets may seem like a stretch. However, given the magnitude of expected change in the Transformative Age and the growing corporate appetite to unite around the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we firmly believe it’s possible to achieve impact on this scale. And it’s time to do so. We only have a decade to achieve the SDGs. As a planet, we must learn how to accomplish systemic change. This is why the EY Ripples program is guided by three principles, which we encourage all businesses everywhere to adopt so that, together, we can achieve positive change and inclusive growth.

1. Working with others to achieve impact at scale

We believe that SDG #17, “Partnerships for the Goals,” is the key to unlocking all the Sustainable Development Goals. By working with like-minded organizations across the public, private and non-profit sectors, and fostering systemic approaches, we can achieve together what EY cannot achieve alone: we can positively impact one billion lives by 2030.

We are already laying the foundation to achieve the bold EY Ripples ambition by building on deep relationships with NGOs and impact investors, such as Junior Achievement Worldwide and Acumen.

Likewise, we are forging collaborations with EY clients. In April 2019, the World Bank joined EY in committing to positively affecting the lives of 10 million people by 2022. In October, EY joined the executive committee of TRANSFORM, an initiative founded by Unilever and the UK Department for International Development (DFID). This unique collaboration offers the opportunity to scale EY support for impact entrepreneurs and to help 100 million low-income people in Africa and Asia gain access to vital goods and services by 2025.

As we continue to align with SDG #17, we will seek out collaborators who are ready to drive systemic change – who recognize that, ultimately, sustainable businesses will be those who work with others to bring about inclusive growth that benefits us all.

By working with like-minded organizations across the public, private and non-profit sectors, and fostering systemic approaches, we can achieve together what EY cannot achieve alone: we can positively impact one billion lives by 2030.

2. Using core business capabilities to make a difference

The most compelling and effective corporate responsibility (CR) strategies lie at the intersection of what the world needs and what an organization is distinctly positioned to provide. As a global leader in professional services, being a catalyst for social impact doesn’t mean altering what we do. Oftentimes, it just means extending EY skills, knowledge and experience to people and places we might not otherwise reach.

Therefore, EY Ripples is focused on supporting the next generation workforce, working with impact entrepreneurs, and accelerating environmental sustainability. We believe these are the best ways to use skills to help overcome the biggest challenges facing our planet – as framed by the SDGs.

For example, many of EY Ripples’ mentoring initiatives for the next generation workforce are a broad-based extension of the learning and development opportunities available to EY people. Every year, EY invests millions in EY workforce development, training on future-focused skills in areas such as artificial intelligence, design thinking, and analytics, as well as bolstering the distinctively human capabilities needed for the future of work – such as our capacity for creativity, collaboration and critical thinking. Now, we aim to bestow these skills on young and underserved people around the world, preparing them to find and sustain meaningful work in an age of increasing human-machine collaboration.

At the same time, we are working on a not-for-profit basis with impact entrepreneurs driving progress toward the SDGs, using the same methodologies and rigorous oversight as any commercial client engagement. By applying EY skills, knowledge and experience to helping impact entrepreneurs overcome barriers to scale, we can help millions of people gain equitable access to decent work, opportunities, and vital goods and services.

3. Making long-term value integral to business

Ultimately, corporate responsibility isn’t a discrete program or function. It’s a fundamental belief and way of thinking that encourages business to consider the long-term implications of its actions, and to use its resources, global footprint and market power to help tackle the big social and environmental challenges of our time. Of course, that’s precisely what makes CR essential to the fulfilment of any organization’s higher purpose, including the EY purpose of building a better working world.

The ripple effect of using EY skills, knowledge and experience to make a difference won’t only be felt in the communities where we work. It will be felt throughout the global EY organization too. Beyond giving EY professionals the “feel-good factor” for having used their skills for good, EY Ripples social impact work also offers exceptional opportunities for personal and professional development.

Corporate responsibility isn’t a discrete program or function. It’s a fundamental belief and way of thinking that encourages business to consider the long-term implications of its actions, and to use its resources, global footprint and market power to help tackle the big social and environmental challenges of our time.

EY professionals can apply their skills in new contexts, take on stretch assignments, and practice broader competencies than might typically be required in their day-to-day roles. In serving people from underserved communities around the world — many of whom face serious barriers to a better quality of life — they also have the chance to become more inclusive and globally-minded leaders.

As Interface founder and sustainable business pioneer, Ray C. Anderson, once said, “Once you see, you can’t unsee.” With sincere hope, we believe that the EY Ripples program in its current form is just the first step in a much wider cultural transformation — one that will coalesce with other areas of impetus, such as long-term value reporting, to make the creation of long-term value integral to everything we do.

Summary

Through EY Ripples, EY aims to positively impact 1 billion lives by 2030. For companies interested in setting their own bold visions for positive change, we recommend following three principles:

  1. Work with others to achieve impact at scale
  2. Use core business capabilities to make a difference
  3. Make long-term value integral to business

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