Can the ‘Ripples’ effect change the world?

By

Abdulaziz Al-Sowailim

EY MENA Chairman and CEO

Passionate about innovation, digital transformation and diversity and inclusiveness. Father.

4 minute read 9 Dec 2019

The EY Ripples corporate responsibility program aims to address some of the biggest social challenges of our time, using our skills, knowledge and experience.

For almost a century, EY has played a vital role in our region in driving sustainable, inclusive growth, but I feel strongly that we can and must do more to support the next generation. This is why we’ve developed a new global corporate responsibility program called EY Ripples that gives all our people the opportunity to make a positive impact on the lives of millions of individuals, both in the region and across the rest of the world. I really like the name we’ve given this program, for a region where water is such a precious resource.

By participating in a range of initiatives, I believe EY will create a powerful ripple effect to build a better working world for our communities and economies. When these ripples are combined, I’m confident they’ll generate huge waves of positive change that’ll last for decades to come.

There’s an obvious need: the MENA region faces broad societal challenges, such as joblessness, inequality, environmental issues and a lack of economic opportunities for young people. The world faces similar problems, too. They demand a response, which is why I feel we must use our knowledge, skills, experience and convening power to find better, more powerful answers to these issues. We have a corporate responsibility not just to our clients and employees, but to the wider community, to build a better working world as a legacy for future generations.

Just how big could the effects be? I think our targets are very ambitious: by 2022 we aim to mobilize 1 million people worldwide who can have a direct, positive effect on the futures of 10 million lives. These changes will, in turn, indirectly affect 100 million people, their families and communities. At that rate, we believe that as many as 1 billion lives could be affected positively by 2030. That’s a tidal wave of social change for the better.

Our aims are far-reaching, yet the means of achieving them are practical and I’m confident we can meet these targets if we pull together. The way we plan to do this use falls into three categories:

Supporting the next generation of workers

We’ll help develop the transferable skills and work attitudes young people and others will need to find and sustain valuable forms of work in an era of rapid digital transformation. This social support includes helping students and underserved groups entering or re-entering the workforce. We’ll conduct face-to-face or virtual mentoring with students, and work with education organizations to prepare data analysis, process documents or create presentation decks.

Assisting impact entrepreneurs

I strongly believe we must do more to help the next generation of impact entrepreneurs—they differ from other small-business owners in the positive social change they generate and the tremendous potential to expand the scale of their effects. Experienced EY professionals will provide support by helping impact entrepreneurs tackle their biggest strategic challenges, enabling them to increase their impact further. We’ll coach groups of impact entrepreneurs on strategy and business planning, accounting basics and talent management.

Operating responsibly

In my view, we must lead by example by operating our business responsibly if we’re to engage credibly with others. This entails implementing more deeply the principles of environmental sustainability and inclusive growth, while improving our ability to demonstrate that we meet the highest standards of ethical business practices. On the environmental side, individual EY member firms have set ambitious targets, such as becoming carbon and water neutral, while addressing specific environmental issues in their area. We’re also working on a new, global environmental statement and country action plan to help accelerate leading practices across our entire global organization.

Our commitment to MENA

Each region of EY’s worldwide operations will play their part. In MENA, our Ripples initiatives in FY2020 will take the following forms:

  • Offer each of our 6,000 MENA people a minimum of one day a year for corporate responsibility work.
  • Identify local initiatives that empower women and children.
  • Build local partnerships with trusted regional organizations that will help us to implement our CR plans.
  • Select local projects that support the next generation of workers and the region’s impact entrepreneurs.

These initiatives are part of a long-term plan to help fulfill our purpose of building a better working world. We owe it to the communities in which we operate to continue to improve and support our region which we joined almost a century ago. We’ll use our enthusiasm, skills and experience to make sure everybody in MENA can share in the benefits of sustainable, inclusive economic growth. I’m strongly committed to these goals and will strive with all my power to create many ripples and a more sustainable future for our entrepreneurs, our workers and our communities.

We have a corporate responsibility not just to our clients and employees, but to the wider community, to build a better working world as a legacy for future generations.
Abdulaziz Al-Sowailim
EY MENA Chairman and CEO

Summary

For nearly a century, EY has played a vital role in driving sustainable, inclusive growth in the MENA region.

The EY Ripples program will continue with our values of giving back to the communities we operate in, while we help the next generation entrepreneurs to ideate and overcome societal challenges faced by millions around the world.

About this article

By

Abdulaziz Al-Sowailim

EY MENA Chairman and CEO

Passionate about innovation, digital transformation and diversity and inclusiveness. Father.