Could what you do today change someone’s life forever?

By EY Global

Ernst & Young Global Ltd.

7 minute read 17 Dec 2019
Related topics Global review

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When we look at the world today, we see a huge opportunity to use our skills, knowledge and experience to address some of the toughest social challenges of our time – from inequality to climate change to tech-led job displacement – and drive sustainable, inclusive growth.

We believe that through small actions – made by every EY person, every day – we can create ripples that grow and join with others to create huge waves of change. This year we launched EY Ripples – our global corporate responsibility program to scale our efforts to drive positive change.

EY Ripples brings together our social impact initiatives across the world under one shared vision: to mobilize more than a million people across EY and wider networks to positively impact the lives of 250 million people by 2025, and 1 billion people by 2030. Our 2030 goal aligns with the timeline for achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

EY Ripples focuses on three areas where we believe we can use our skills, knowledge and experience to make the biggest difference:

  1. Supporting the next generation workforce: supporting young and underserved people to develop the mindsets and skills they’ll need to find and sustain meaningful work.
  2. Working with impact entrepreneurs: helping scale small and growing businesses that purposefully drive progress toward the SDGs.
  3. Accelerating environmental sustainability: driving adoption of behaviors, technologies and business models that protect and regenerate the environment while unlocking economic opportunity.

We know that achieving impact on the scale set out by the SDGs and by EY Ripples requires rapid innovation, as well as long-term, collaborative effort across the public, private and non-profit sectors. That’s why our approach emphasizes building relationships with clients and other like-minded organizations. Our goal also acts as a push for continued innovation within EY as we look to:

  • Offer more exceptional social impact experiences that help EY people develop as inclusive leaders
  • Harness the power of digital technology to expand EY’s reach and impact
  • Share insights and perspectives that can accelerate systemic change

As a first step to innovation, we launched a platform designed to make it easier than ever for EY people to find EY Ripples opportunities that match their passions, skills and availability. Already hosting opportunities for 80% of our people, it will reach global coverage by mid-2020. These are the early stages of an exciting, multi-year journey – not only to transform our impact on the communities where we live and work, but also to embed positive social and environmental value more deeply in everything we do.

EY Ripples aims to mobilize more than 1 million people across EY and wider networks to positively impact the lives of 250 million people by 2025, and 1 billion people by 2030.

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Chapter 1

Supporting the next generation workforce

Enabling mindsets and skills for the future of work.

In a future defined by careers that don’t yet exist, the greatest gift we can give young and underserved people is to help them be resilient, adaptable and life-long learners.

This includes focusing on distinctly human capabilities such as initiative and self-reliance, creativity and innovation, and critical thinking and problem-solving. Beyond established EY member firm initiatives, such as College MAP in the US and NextGen in South Africa, we continue to expand our work in support of some of the world’s leading youth-focused NGOs.

For example, we’ve expanded our relationship with Junior Achievement (JA), who serve more than 10 million students in over 100 countries annually, helping them prepare for the future of employment and entrepreneurship. This year, we built on our existing collaboration with JA in 9 countries, and signed a global agreement to pilot additional mentoring programs in 18 more countries.

Woman easy solar device Sierra Leone
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Chapter 2

Working with impact entrepreneurs

Helping scale businesses that drive progress toward the UN SDGs.

Image above courtesy of Easy Solar - bringing clean, affordable energy to off-grid families in Sierra Leone.

Billions of people around the world are still excluded from opportunities, goods and services that many of us take for granted – clean water, safe and affordable energy to power homes, quality jobs and healthcare, or access to credit. Impact entrepreneurs are coming up with some of the best ideas and boldest actions for tackling inequality via business models that purposefully drive progress toward the SDGs. EY has long committed to helping improve impact enterprises’ resilience, productivity and capacity for sustainable growth.

Every year, EY people dedicate thousands of hours of not-for-profit consulting support to impact entrepreneurs. These diverse projects are supported around the world and help scale some of the most effective approaches for driving sustainable, inclusive growth. In FY19, EY expertise and guidance helped boost agricultural livelihoods across Africa, enhance sanitation in India and scale access to affordable solar energy in Sierra Leone.

We also continue to share insights from these projects to help accelerate the development of entire sectors – for example our joint report with Unilever, How can a trickle become a torrent? which offers guidance for building sustainable enterprises that could bring safe drinking water to millions of people. In the past decade we have built strong relationships with leading impact investors and entrepreneurship networks. Now, as with the safe water report with Unilever, we are increasingly collaborating with clients to activate shared purpose.

For example, this year the World Bank joined EY in committing to positively affect the lives of 10 million people by 2022. Based on our ongoing support of impact entrepreneurs in its network, EY has also been invited to join TRANSFORM - a cross-sector collaboration with Unilever and the UK Department for Development (DFID) - which aims to help 100 million low-income people in Africa and Asia gain access to life-enhancing goods and services by 2025.

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Chapter 3

Accelerating environmental sustainability

Minimizing environmental impact while unlocking economic opportunity.

Tackling social inequality also requires working to avert the worst effects of climate change. Wherever they occur around the world, climate shocks hit the poorest in society hardest. The World Bank has estimated that, if global temperature rises continue unabated, it could result in 100 million more people living in extreme poverty by 2030.

EY remains committed to driving purposeful action that minimizes the negative impacts of businesses’ activities on the environment. EY Climate Change and Sustainability Services teams help clients understand and act on the risks and opportunities arising from climate change, innovating in areas such as climate resilience, the circular economy, renewable energy, water accounting and alternative waste treatment. Working with clients to understand the sustainability issues that matter most to their businesses, we evaluate supply chains, conduct materiality assessments, create sustainability strategies, and more – ultimately helping clients reduce costs while unlock sustainable business opportunities.

We also challenge ourselves to operate the EY organization in a more environmentally sustainable way. We’ve made positive strides in reducing our environment impacts, for example through the award-winning efforts of the UK member firm to reduce consumption of single-use plastics. In April, the US member firm entered into a renewable energy Virtual Power Purchase Agreement (VPPA) to initiate the construction of two large-scale Texas-based wind farms. These wind farms will generate enough zero-carbon electricity to offset the absolute greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of the US firm, setting it up to be powered by 100% renewable energy from 2020.

While we have succeeded in continuing to reduce our direct emissions from office energy consumption by 15% over the last three years, our indirect emissions from business travel have increased. We are committed to bringing the best of EY from around the world to our clients, and we recognize the need to meet this commitment in innovative ways that can reduce travel and decouple our growth from environmental impact.

Following announcement of a new global environmental statement (pdf) last year, we’ve developed and are implementing detailed member firm plans to prioritize action around business travel, office energy consumption, waste and water use, and sustainable procurement. In 2020, EY will finalize and announce environmental commitments that will move us another step toward being a more sustainable and responsible business.

We understand the importance of committing to actions that will tackle the interconnected challenges of climate change and inequality. By adding an environmental sustainability focus to the EY Ripples program, we are bringing the power of the collective knowledge and experience of EY, as well as the breadth and depth of the EY network, to this critical task. Together, we can work toward a more sustainable future and the achievement of the UN SDGs.


Through EY services, wider influence and approach to corporate responsibility, EY is committed to supporting a better working world where everyone can contribute to and share in the benefits of sustainable economic growth.

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By EY Global

Ernst & Young Global Ltd.

Related topics Global review