14 minute read 7 Sep 2020
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Amplifying our social impact through EY Ripples

By EY Global

Ernst & Young Global Ltd.

14 minute read 7 Sep 2020

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EY people help create long-term value by using our experience, services and influence to help solve some of the world’s toughest challenges, which have been particularly heightened this year.

In brief
  • COVID-19 threatens to push more than one billion people into poverty, and millions of people have had their education, or their careers put on hold.
  • We are committed to harnessing EY knowledge and convening power to help people everywhere rebuild and reset.
  • EY’s global corporate responsibility program, EY Ripples, is a key way that every EY person can take part in this endeavor.

COVID-19 threatens to push more than one billion people into poverty, and millions of people have had their education, or their careers put on hold. We are committed to harnessing EY’s knowledge and convening power to help people everywhere rebuild and reset.

EY’s corporate responsibility program, EY Ripples, is anchored in a long-term goal to positively impact one billion lives by 2030, by focusing the skills and experience of thousands of EY employees in three areas:

  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 Sustainable Development Goals.
  3. Accelerating environmental sustainability: driving adoption of behaviors, technologies and business models that protect and regenerate the environment while unlocking economic opportunity.

EY Ripples is anchored in a long-term goal to positively impact one billion lives by 2030, by focusing the skills and experience of thousands of EY employees.

Child walking on footpath

Chapter 1: Supporting the next generation workforce

Developing the mindsets and skills to thrive in the future of work

With education systems disrupted by COVID-19, supporting the next generation has never been more important. While our focus has remained constant – helping young and underserved groups to develop the mindsets and skills needed to adapt and thrive in the future of work – the emphasis this year shifted toward scaling virtual learning.

This year this included:

  • Supporting almost 5,000 students across 10 countries through in-person and virtual provision of EY Future Skills workshops spanning topics such as environmental literacy, emerging technology, financial literacy and entrepreneurship.
  • Providing virtual workshops on technology skills to support Junior Achievement (JA) students in Italy, as well helping JA Central Ontario to develop a suite of free digital programs on financial literacy, work readiness and entrepreneurship that young people can access from home.
  • Entering into a new collaboration with 100mentors, whereby EY mentors enhance students’ learning by providing 100-second personalized video answers to their questions on economics, business management and the future of work via a mobile app.
  • EY leadership in South Africa taking a compensation reduction to help fund laptops and tuition in maths, accounting, science and English for EY NextGen learners so they don’t fall behind.
  • Helping Australian students turn challenges into opportunities

    The Australian Business and Community Network (ABCN) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to working collaboratively with businesses and schools to improve the educational and career outcomes of underserved young Australians. As one of more than 40 member businesses, the EY member firm in Australia supports multiple mentoring programs, designed to help students develop critical skills.

    Among them is Future Thinkers – one of ABCN’s newest programs, developed with EY support. Based around the principles of design thinking, the program focuses on fostering students’ innovation and problem-solving skills as they work with mentors to practice turning challenges into opportunities.

    Following a successful pilot in 2018, the program has since been rolled out across the country and has proven a hit with students. With COVID lockdowns potentially denying students the opportunity to benefit from this interactive, collaborative and fun approach, an EY team worked with ABCN to virtualize the program.

    Rose Downie, Rey Takeshima and Tamarin Carter – all Consulting Seniors from EY Australia – drew on their experience of running human-centered design sessions virtually to advise ABCN on how they could do it effectively, particularly managing participant engagement and input. Tamarin and Rose then ran a specialized coaching session for ABCN’s Digital Transformation team to demonstrate the interactive collaborative tool, Mural, and share how this could be employed to build engagement.

    “I am always drawn to the opportunity to work with ABCN, as their work has such an immediate and obvious benefits for young people, especially those experiencing disadvantage,” says Rose. “Future thinking” skills are needed now more than ever and it’s been great to help ABCN continue to provide such an impactful program.”

    “EY was instrumental in supporting us to develop and deliver our face-to-face design thinking workshop, so it was fantastic to tap into their expertise again when it came to reimagining the program in a digital format,” says ABCN’s Program Development Manager, Peta Magick. “Rose, Rey and Tamarin were all very generous with their time and talent. We’re so grateful to able to call on EY’s digital experts to support us with our ambitious program transformation!”

    Learn more about how EY supports the next generation workforce

A woman poses in front of a 3S Toilet Integration (TI) Bus

As featured in our joint report with the Toilet Board Coalition, Make way for the future of sanitation (pdf), 3S is repurposing old city buses as sanitation kiosks, complete with toilets, shower cubicles, diaper changing stations and sanitary pad vending machines. These provide a safe, clean and familiar sanitation experience for low-income urban women in Pune, India. Photo courtesy of 3S.

Chapter 2: Working with impact entrepreneurs

Tailored skills, development and coaching

Impact entrepreneurs deliver essential services to communities. In our work with them this year we continue to provide wide-ranging support, whether that’s tackling the challenges of business resiliency and continuity, market changes, cash and risk management, or tailored skills development and coaching.

This year we pivoted to virtual support where necessary and improving access to digital tools specifically designed to help these impact enterprises not just survive the pandemic but emerge stronger. This year this included:

  • Supporting Jeeon – an impact enterprise whose efforts to digitally connect pharmacies to training, technology, products and services has been pivotal to the COVID-19 response in Bangladesh – with financial modeling and business planning.
  • Providing virtual group and one-to-one sessions on the EY 7 Drivers of Growth for entrepreneurs on the Social Impact Hub’s “Scaling impact” accelerator program in Australia.
  • Publishing a joint study with the Toilet Board Coalition on the potential for innovative business models to accelerate development of a multi-billion-dollar sanitation economy – one that safely captures, treats and transforms waste into valuable resources.
  • Making the EY Finance Navigator tool available to small and growing enterprises free of charge, to help them better manage their finances and cash flow.
  • Developing and sharing toolkits to support COVID-19 enterprise resilience, including through collaboration with Unilever and the UK Department for International Development on the TRANSFORM “Survive and Thrive” platform.
  • Helping Jeeon improve access to quality health care in Bangladesh

    Pharmacies account for two-thirds of healthcare visits and expenditures in Bangladesh yet access to a reliable pharmacy remains a huge challenge for more than 100m people in rural communities.

    Through its JeeonConnect digital platform, Jeeon already connects a network of more than 2,000 micro-pharmacies to training, technologies, products and services to help grow their businesses and support quality health care provision for 4m underserved patients.

    With a vision of extending digital connectivity to every pharmacy and informal drug store in Bangladesh by 2021, Benjamin Rojsuontikul, an EY manager from the US, was engaged to help Jeeon strengthen its financial and operational modeling, and develop a business plan for scale – a project that only gained in significance, as COVID-19 struck.

    Recognizing the risk of pharmacies becoming transmission super-nodes, Jeeon swiftly repurposed half its team to COVID-19 response efforts, including helping the government to build a symptom checker and national case surveillance system, as well as embedding the symptom checker in its e-commerce app to help and encourage pharmacists to test risk of exposure before physically interacting with patients.

    While the pandemic may have curtailed immediate plans to expand its pharmacy network, Jeeon CEO, Rubayat Khan, remains optimistic about the future. “The way we’ve risen to meet the needs of the moment, I feel we’re fulfilling the promises we made to ourselves and our supporters,” he says. “I’ve no doubt the strong bonds and camaraderie we’ve forged during this time will persist and yield long-term results for our business.”

    “This good karma won’t go to waste and nor will Benjamin’s work,” he adds. “It’s given us a better understanding of what we need to do to achieve profitability, a more compelling value proposition to share with our supporters, and a clear plan for scaling our services and impact.”

    Benjamin is equally appreciative of the opportunity to have worked with Rubayat and Jeeon, albeit only having the chance to spend two weeks on the ground in Bangladesh before returning home to complete the project virtually.

    “Working virtually on a project like this isn’t without its challenges, but the rewards of helping a business like Jeeon are so much greater,” he says. “It’s an honor and a privilege to work with someone like Rubayat. Not only is he incredibly smart, his optimism is infectious, and the experience has left me with a renewed sense of hope that business can be part of helping solve some of the world’s toughest challenges.”

    Learn more about how EY supports impact entrepreneurs

Green garden among business buildings

Chapter 3: Accelerating environmental sustainability

Protecting and regenerating the environment

In addition to EY’s own sustainability efforts, through EY Ripples we continue to develop new ways to empower EY people to make more sustainable choices, and, channel their skills and knowledge towards projects that not only protect and regenerate the environment, but also unlock the economic opportunities inherent in a net positive, circular economy. This year this included:

  • Supporting Earthwatch with virtual secondments centered on financial and cash flow forecasting, and human resources strategy and planning. These projects have helped Earthwatch improve resilience: not only helping it weather disruption to operations and revenue, but also to prepare to rebound strongly from the pandemic.
  • Helping Engineers Without Borders (Norway) to optimize an innovative approach to winterizing refugee camps in Turkey, using “Polyfloss” technology – refugees can manufacture their own insulation materials from waste thermoplastics, thereby tackling the “triple threat” of poor protection against harsh winters, poor opportunities for productive employment, and a living environment rife with plastic waste.
  • Continuing to expand the “eco-innovator” network – a grassroots network of EY people dedicated to sharing ideas and leading practices for tackling the climate crisis. This includes running regular events to educate, inform and inspire EY people with practical tips for sustainable living.
  • Launching an EY Badge on climate change and sustainability to further all EY people’s understanding of the climate crisis, the impact of climate change on EY clients and sectors, and how individual and collective action can make a difference.
  • Greenhouse gas emissions - explanatory notes

    This carbon footprint is calculated in line with the EY global carbon footprint methodology. This is based on the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol developed by the World Resources Institute (WRI) and World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), using its “location-based” approach to reporting.

    Emissions calculations use 2020 conversion factors published by the UK Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy or locally published factors where appropriate. Conversion factors used to calculate emissions from air travel include the impact of “radiative forcing.”

    In 2019, the methodology for calculating air travel emissions was updated to provide more accurate classification of domestic, short and long-haul flights, based on distance travelled. As different emissions factors apply to different haul types, the reclassification of flights has contributed to a decrease in Scope 3 emissions. For year-on-year comparison purposes, FY18 figures have been restated using the same methodology.

    Emissions from air travel are estimated using distance data that represents 90% of global spend on air travel. Emissions from office energy consumption are estimated using activity data representing 70% of the global office portfolio.

  • Helping Earthwatch remain resilient during the pandemic

    Since its founding in 1971, Earthwatch has been taking action to address climate change through citizen science and community engagement. By pairing volunteers from all sectors of society with researchers around the world, Earthwatch teams have helped to safeguard critical habitats, conserve biodiversity and promote the sustainable use of natural resources.

    EY has been collaborating with Earthwatch for more than a decade through EY-Earthwatch Ambassadors, a program in the US that sends high-performing, early-career professionals on week-long expeditions to Mexico or Peru to engage in field research and provide pro-bono services to local entrepreneurs.

    With those expeditions on hold because of the COVID-19 pandemic, EY pivoted its support to help Earthwatch respond to its own challenges. With operations and revenues severely disrupted by the pandemic, two projects have helped Earthwatch work through multiple scenarios and strategies, not only to weather the immediate storm, but also to rebound strongly on the other side.

    One, undertaken by Ruby Zhou, an Advisory Manager from the US, was to help develop a COVID-19 cash flow forecasting model, including three economy reopening scenarios to assist Earthwatch executives in understanding the liquidity constraints from COVID-19 travel restrictions and relief from federal financial aid packages. The other, carried out by Christine Sciarrino, an Executive Recruiter from the Americas Talent team, was to help the organization navigate complex decisions around HR strategy and planning.

    “Ruby provided us with a flexible tool, which we will use on an ongoing basis to manage cash through the COVID-19 crisis,” says Larry Staub, Controller at Earthwatch. “She quickly assessed our needs and I was really impressed by how easy she was to work with, especially considering our office was closed and we were working entirely via Zoom and email.”

    “It's hard to see how I would have made it through these challenging times without Christine's help,” adds Director of Operations, Stacey Monty. “We’ve been able to make better decisions, thanks to her help in researching different staffing options, and she’s also provided great support in updating our HR policies, and creating educational resources and tools for our people.”

    "The urge to make myself useful during this challenging time was absolutely what drew me to this project," says Christine. "To be part of coming up with creative solutions that help Earthwatch take the least painful path feels incredibly rewarding.”

    Learn more about EY-Earthwatch Ambassadors

Elevated view of shanghai at dusk

Chapter 4: Impacting a billion lives for the better

Measuring our impact

Last year EY announced the bold ambition to positively impact the lives of 250m people by 2025 and 1b people by 2030. In keeping with that goal, and the ability to reliably measure progress toward it, we are moving from input-based metrics to an outcomes-based measure of social impact initiatives.

While we will continue to report community investment figures using metrics such as hours invested in community volunteering, and the monetary value of those contributions, these metrics don’t speak to the impact those endeavors create. Therefore, we are now reporting on “lives impacted” based on a rigorous methodology developed over the past year.

“Lives impacted” figures encompass evaluation of both direct and indirect beneficiaries of EY Ripples initiatives – for example, both the leaders of impact enterprises and the customer base they serve – and are weighted according to the depth and breadth of impact that can be attributed to EY support. The impact of each initiative is also mapped to the most relevant SDG, based on ultimate impact.

Since the inception of our social impact programs working with impact entrepreneurs and supporting the next generation, EY has positively impacted more than 34 million people, including over 15 million people in FY20.

Achieving our ambition requires innovation and collaboration at scale across the public, private and non-profit sectors. While we recognize we still have a long way to go to achieve the 2025 and 2030 impact targets, we have made strong progress over a short period of time and these figures show that we are on track.


Lives Impacted

SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth


SDG 5: Gender Equality


SDG 7: Affordable and Clean Energy


SDG 17: Partnerships for the Goals


SDG 1: No Poverty







EY Ripples, our corporate responsibility program, is anchored in a long-term goal to positively impact one billion lives by 2030, by focusing the skills and experience of thousands of EY employees.

About this article

By EY Global

Ernst & Young Global Ltd.