What if business were society’s greatest problem solver?

By EY Global

Ernst & Young Global Ltd.

15 minute read 15 Feb 2019

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As a proud participant in the United Nations Global Compact, the EY organization is committed to helping solve society’s toughest challenges

The world today is changing faster than it ever has. Rapidly advancing technology, shifting demographics and increasing globalization bring with them many benefits – people everywhere are living longer, healthier lives and fewer live in poverty than ever before. But these changes also exacerbate societal challenges, such as climate change and inequality, which demand innovative solutions. 

At EY, we believe that business has a responsibility to use its talents and vast resources to address these challenges. We feel a responsibility to demonstrate how, in this time of rapid change, we are fulfilling our purpose of building a better working world for everyone. EY’s efforts are guided by the United Nations Global Compact’s (UNGC) Ten Principles and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

In this report, you will discover the ways in which EY is fulfilling our purpose and upholding the UNGC principles. You will see how we’re amplifying our social impact through our new corporate responsibility platform, EY Ripples. This platform is designed to engage all EY people in projects focused on two areas where we believe we can make the biggest difference: supporting the next generation, helping young people to develop the mindsets and transferable skills they need most to find and sustain meaningful work in this transformative age; and working with impact entrepreneurs, helping scale small and growing businesses that are purposefully driving progress toward the SDGs.

We also provide an update on the Embankment Project for Inclusive Capitalism (EPIC), which sought to identify a market-driven standard of what contributes to long-term value creation for all stakeholders and how to measure it. The project brought together business leaders and companies, representing US$30t of assets under management and almost 2m employees worldwide, and focused on the contribution of intangible assets - such as talent, innovation and corporate governance - and societal and environmental impact, on a firm’s long-term value.

We continue to be energized by our engagement with the UNGC and are proud of what we have achieved over the past year. We know we have more work to do, but we look forward to building on this with our stakeholders, to build a more sustainable, socially responsible and inclusive future.

Mark A. Weinberger
EY Global Chairman and CEO

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Chapter 1

Supporting the Ten Principles and Sustainable Development Goals

Supporting human and labor rights, anti-corruption and the environment.

United Nations Global Compact

Learn how EY is supporting the UNGC Ten Principles and the Sustainable Development Goals

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Chapter 2

Supporting our people and communities

Reducing social inequality is at the heart of driving sustainable inclusive growth.

Reducing social inequality is at the heart of driving sustainable inclusive growth. This captures the essence of our commitment to human rights and labor and to building a culture of respect and inclusion — not only inside our own organization, but also throughout our supply chain and across the communities where we live and work.

Inside EY

At EY, we believe high-performing teams, which utilize the power of diversity and inclusiveness including different opinions, perspectives and cultural backgrounds, will experience greater success in the global marketplace. That’s why we strive to create an environment where all EY people feel, and are, valued; where they can bring their differences to work each day; and where they contribute their personal best to each other, businesses, government and communities around the world.

Developing purpose-driven leaders

Our promise to EY people remains: whenever you join, however long you stay, the exceptional EY experience lasts a lifetime. Everything we do for EY people is a vital part of building a better working world — not only for them, but also for EY clients and communities. EY aims to provide our people interesting, challenging work that enables them to continuously develop their skills and knowledge; and to do so in an ethical and safe environment that strongly supports their personal integrity. 

Growing employment

In FY18, employment at EY grew by almost 6% to more than 260,000 people globally. Nearly two million people applied for roles with EY member firms and more than 65,000 joined the EY organization. This equates to one new hire every eight minutes, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Of all experienced new hires, 26% came to EY via referral and more than 15% of all our hires were alumni, or previous EY employees known as “boomerangs,” that returned to EY.



At EY, we continue to accelerate our commitment to gender diversity across the global organization, with women representing nearly 30% of newly promoted partners over the past three years.

Strengthening diversity and inclusiveness

Reinforced by a new inclusion and anti-discrimination global policy, the EY global organization continues to strengthen its commitment to diversity and inclusiveness (D&I), creating an environment where all differences are valued and the richness of EY talent is reflected in promotions and leadership appointments. For example, 32% of new partners in FY18 were from emerging markets and nearly 30% were women. Gender diversity on the Global Executive, the highest governing body in EY, also increased to more than 26%.

Being recognized as a great place to work

EY continues to be the world’s most attractive professional services employer for business students in Universum’s annual “World’s Most Attractive Employer” ranking. We are fourth overall behind Apple, Google and Goldman Sachs. In the US, EY was recognized in Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For®” annual list for a record 20 consecutive years. EY was also inducted into DiversityInc's first-ever “Top 50 Hall of Fame” recognizing our corporate values, culture and longstanding commitment to D&I.

Investing in EY people

Recognizing our responsibility to equip EY people with the right tools and skills, and anticipating the skills they will need in the future to achieve their career aspirations, we invested US$500m in 13m hours of training in FY18 — up 1m hours from the previous year. We also introduced EY Badges — a program that allows our people to earn digital credentials and capabilities in future-focused skills such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, innovation, and analytics.

Supporting flexible working

Recognizing people’s desires for greater flexibility, we launched GigNow in FY17 — a new global talent marketplace matching contract workers with relevant opportunities at EY member firms. In FY18, GigNow has expanded from the US, the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand to Canada, China, India, the Netherlands and Singapore. At the end of FY18, 16,000 contractors had registered for short-term “gigs” and filled more than 1,300 positions for EY projects around the world.

Listening to and recognizing EY people

We invest considerable time and effort in listening to EY people, for example through our Global People Survey. LEAD, our integrated approach to career, development and performance, provides EY people with ongoing feedback and enables them to have regular, future-focused conversations about their career aspirations. We also seek to build a culture of recognition, where EY people actively recognize others who do extraordinary work every day. Our global award program, Better begins with you, continues to recognize and celebrate EY people who have found inspiring and impactful ways to bring EY’s purpose — building a better working world — to life.

In the EY supply chain

EY’s commitment to promoting the principles of inclusiveness, sustainability and responsibility — including in relation to human and labor rights — extends beyond our own organization. It also includes our continued efforts to promote high ethical standards within the EY supply chain, and to maintain and grow a diverse supplier base that reflects the markets, clients and communities we serve.

Supplier diversity


As well as setting a stretch target to double global procurement spend with diverse suppliers in FY18, EY has committed to sourcing US$100m of services from women-owned businesses by 2020, the majority of which are based in low- and middle-income countries.

Encouraging suppliers to operate responsibly

Just as EY’s Global Code of Conduct sets out the standards of ethical behavior expected of every EY person, our Supplier Code of Conduct does the same for EY suppliers. We view their performance as an integral part of the EY value chain and expect all suppliers to meet high legal, ethical, environmental and employment-related standards.

Increasing supplier diversity

Identifying, developing and doing business with diverse suppliers is a key component of our strategic sourcing and procurement activities. Through our D&I procurement initiative, we actively encourage small and minority-owned businesses to become registered suppliers and help them to achieve their full potential.

In our communities

We believe business can and must do more to foster the kind of economic growth to which everyone can contribute, and from which everyone can benefit. Through our new global corporate responsibility platform, EY Ripples, we are bringing greater scale and sharper focus to our efforts to drive sustainable inclusive growth in our communities. Above all, that means mobilizing the collective skills, knowledge and experience of our people and wider networks to support the next generation and life-changing entrepreneurial enterprises. 



With support from our Corporate Responsibility Governance Council, which includes nine members of the EY Global Executive, we are bringing greater scale, focus and cohesion to our efforts to drive sustainable inclusive growth in our communities.

Supporting the next generation

Through EY Ripples, we are sharpening the focus of our support for the next generation, helping young people to develop the mindset and transferable skills they will need most to find and sustain meaningful work in a transformative age. In addition to continued collaboration with organizations such as JA Worldwide (Junior Achievement) and the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship, “future skills” remain a key focus of member firms’ career advice; also of Future Work Now, a program developed to help individuals, teams, and organizations thrive in the digital age.

Working with impact entrepreneurs

EY is also expanding our support for impact entrepreneurs whose small and growing businesses are purposefully driving progress toward the SDGs. As well as scaling the number of longer-term projects EY has with these life-changing businesses, we are piloting business clinics that help them tackle common barriers to growth. In this way, we not only hope to extend our support to more impact entrepreneurs, but also to broaden the range of opportunities for EY people to work with and be inspired by some of the most purposeful enterprises on the planet.

Engaging EY people in creating social impact

In FY18, there has been EY investment of US$112m in projects dedicated to strengthening our communities and our people contributed over 739,000 hours of service — up nearly 6% on FY17. We aim to significantly increase EY people’s participation in social impact projects, mobilizing at scale through EY Ripples. As we expand the number and range of opportunities to support the next generation and impact entrepreneurs, a new global EY Ripples portal will make it easier than ever for our people to find and get involved in initiatives that suit their skills, knowledge, experience and passion.

Using our insights to drive social impact at scale

Beyond individual projects and initiatives, we are also joining forces with like-minded organizations to influence development of entire sectors. For example, building on similar previous reports on container-based sanitation and last-mile distribution, we published a joint report with Unilever exploring the business model dynamics of entrepreneurial Safe Water Enterprises (SWEs). Aiming to encourage heavier investment in SWEs, the insights in this report may help accelerate access to affordable safe drinking water for tens of millions more people.

Working with others for positive change

Inclusive growth requires long-term, collective effort to drive systemic change. Examples of EY leading and participating in such efforts include the global Women. Fast forward platform to help accelerate gender parity in the workplace and the Embankment Project for Inclusive Capitalism (EPIC) to identify a market-driven standard of what contributes to long-term value creation and how to measure it. EY also actively participates in the World Economic Forum’s efforts to create a global dialogue and action agenda around more inclusive and sustainable growth in a transformative age.

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Chapter 3

Supporting our clients and profession

Building trust and confidence in the capital markets.

Serving the public interest

As a global professional services organization, EY recognizes its pivotal role in serving the public interest and positively influencing business behavior, including working against corruption in all its forms. Through EY services, we help to build trust and confidence in the capital markets, guided by the belief that every audit, every tax return, every advisory opportunity, every interaction with a client or colleague can help make the working world better than it was before.

Strengthening trust and confidence in capital markets

Our Sustainable Audit Quality (SAQ) program represents EY’s commitment to conducting globally consistent, high-quality audits, sustained over time. To this end, EY has invested more than US$500m in audit technology. We have also created the EY Audit Academy, which helps our auditors develop the deep critical thinking skills essential to conducting high-quality audits. We now have a global network of 500 Quality Enablement Leaders — senior Assurance professionals who provide on-the-ground quality support and guidance to EY engagement teams.

Through the Embankment Project for Inclusive Capitalism (EPIC), we aim to advance a new framework that helps businesses focus on the true sources of long-term value for all their stakeholders.

Building trust through more transparent corporate reporting

Among other efforts, we have continued our work on the Embankment Project for Inclusive Capitalism, which aims to produce a common framework for measuring foundational elements of long-term value creation for a full range of stakeholders. Aiming to lead by example, we have included a broader range of financial and non-financial metrics on key business value drivers in our own Global review with a three-year reporting time horizon to better show trends.

Helping business innovate with purpose

Working with academic leaders, such as the Oxford Saïd Business School and Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, our research examines how embedding purpose into the core of business models drives innovation and sustainable growth, customer loyalty and talent retention, and the positive impact of business on society. Through the EY Beacon Institute, our Purpose-led TransformationTM service offering and our EY-Sinek Performance Practice, we continue to provide insights and advice to our global clients to inspire and amplify the growing movement of purpose-led business.

EY professionals are harnessing the latest developments in machine learning, natural language processing and robotic process automation to help clients detect and investigate instances of fraud, misuse, corruption and other forms of non-compliance.

Helping tackle corruption in all its forms

EY’s steadfast commitment to tackling corruption is not only enshrined in globally consistent policies and practices, including mandatory training on anti-bribery and corruption; it is also embodied by our Forensics & Integrity Services. These proactive and reactive services include harnessing the latest developments in machine learning, natural language processing and robotic process automation to help clients detect and investigate instances of fraud, misuse, corruption and other forms of non-compliance. Additionally, our ongoing EY Fraud Survey series continues to provide valued perspectives and insights on key risks relating to business ethics and how to tackle them.

Operating responsibly

Anchoring our actions in our values and Global Code of Conduct

Every day, EY people make choices and decisions that directly affect colleagues, EY clients, our communities and our other stakeholders. EY’s values and Global Code of Conduct, which all EY people affirm annually, provide confidence that we are using common principles to help us make the right decisions throughout our global organization.

Managing risk and the quality of all EY services

We continue to invest in strong Quality and Professional Practice functions that evaluate client service for quality as well as compliance with EY policies and professional standards. Additionally, our Risk Management function teams with all parts of our organization to provide coordinated advice and assistance to client-serving teams to help identify and manage risk and support responsible growth.

Engaging with external stakeholders

Believing the best answers are found when many people contribute to the discussion, we continue our regular dialogue with stakeholders. Our aim is to deepen understanding of the policy environment and the evolving social contract between business and society. This includes increasing our engagement with investors and regulators around the world to make sure we understand their perspectives on auditing, financial reporting, corporate governance and other capital market issues.

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Chapter 4

Supporting environmental sustainability

Minimizing the negative impact of business on the environment.

Wherever they occur around the world, climate shocks hit the poorest in society hardest, putting inclusive growth at risk. EY remains committed to driving purposeful action that minimizes the negative impacts of businesses’ activities on the environment. We continue to make a valuable contribution as a leading provider of climate change and sustainability services, while challenging ourselves to work in a more environmentally sustainable manner.



Rollout of a new EY global environment statement — and resulting action plans, starting with more than 30 of our largest markets — will drive efforts to minimize environmental impacts right across our global organization.

Helping EY clients become more sustainable

Our Climate Change and Sustainability Services (CCaSS) teams help organizations to assess and respond to, and measure and report on, some of the world’s most significant resource and environmental challenges. In particular, CCaSS teams have innovated in areas such as climate resilience, the circular economy, renewable energy, water accounting and alternative waste treatment.

Positively influencing change

We continue to contribute to the broader sustainability dialogue, sharing global viewpoints on some of the key issues our clients are facing — such as addressing environmental, health and safety risks — and shining a light on the increasing importance of environmental, social and governance (ESG) analysis for institutional investors.

Managing EY’s own impacts

EY investment continues to be structured in ways that address our biggest environmental impacts of office energy use and business travel, and to improve the way we measure our progress. With a number of EY member firms already pursuing bold targets, including becoming carbon and water neutral by 2020, we have developed a new global environment statement to galvanize further efforts to minimize environmental impacts right across the EY global organization.


Learn more about our efforts to drive sustainable, inclusive growth and support the Sustainable Development Goals, in our latest United Nations Global Compact communication on progress.