Published:The National LGBT Chamber of Commerce New York   Wednesday, June 7, 2017

From the right thing to do, to becoming an imperative. This is how Accenture, a leading global professional services company driving innovation in strategy, consulting, digital, technology and operations, began to realize it made business sense to utilize diverse suppliers. Committed to leveraging the right diverse suppliers across all categories, today Accenture’s US diverse spend is approximately 30% of the Procurement spend.
“My personal commitment to supplier diversity is to help diverse businesses grow,” said Nedra L. Dickson, Accenture’s Global Supplier Inclusion & Sustainability Lead.
Dickson has been with Accenture for over 16 year and started her career in the consulting practice, in NYC. She has worked in many of the practice areas including CIO (Computer Information Organization) and Procurement’s Sourcing and Category Management. Prior to her Supplier Inclusion & Sustainability role based in Atlanta, she led the NA Sourcing and Category Management team. Dickson was responsible for approximately $1B in subcontractor spend across all categories. This role allowed her to work closely with the Supplier Inclusion team and it was then that she learned about the amazing world of Supplier Diversity and Inclusion. Shortly then she began attending the conferences we all frequent today – NMSDCWBENC and NGLCC, to meet diverse suppliers that could help Accenture and its clients.

When first introduced to a diverse business, Dickson was simply amazed. “Even though they were small, they did not lack in skills and ability to deliver key technology,” she said. She became determined to showcase the innovative work these diverse suppliers brought to the table. Soon as she noticed that many of the diverse suppliers were also community leaders and led efforts into helping others, Dickson made it a personal commitment to champion on their behalves and pay it forward.

One of Accenture’s greatest successes is their mentoring program called DSDP – Diverse Supplier Development Program, which is launched in 4 different geographies (US, Canada, UK, and South Africa). Dickson’s team gets the chance to partner handpicked diverse suppliers with key Accenture executives and mentor them on helping grow their business. Her team brings in key Accenture executives as presenters with many different topics (HR, Capital, RFP responses, Web-design, Branding) just to name a few. To date, there have been 125 diverse suppliers who have graduated the DSDP and half of them are currently doing work with Accenture.

When asked how she manages a global role from Atlanta, she says, “the time zones do present a bigger challenge as I’ve had to take calls at 4am and at midnight.” Managing 17 countries (US, Canada, UK, South Africa, Netherlands, Germany, France, India, China, Mexico, Australia, Spain, Turkey, Brazil, Argentina, Nigeria, Costa Rica), Dickson is fortunate to have and thankful to her team of seven that are fully dedicated to Supplier Inclusion and Sustainability. She also has the support of Supplier Inclusion Champions in each of the countries who are aligned to Accenture’s Global Procurement Sourcing team. “We made it a formal role to have 25% of their time dedicated to Supplier Inclusion,” she said.

Strongly believing supplier diversity must continue to bring innovation, Dickson, committed to paying it forward, sought out a diverse supplier and prior DSDP graduate to partner with – (an LGBTBE) Socio, a creative, comms and customer experience agency shaping how companies do business. Together, through Accenture executive sponsorship and Dickson’s leadership, they have created a graduate program called Hire Performance. You’ll hear more about Hire Performance as it continues to excel, however, here is its mission statement:

  • Hire Performance creates long-term value for Accenture, its clients, and our communities. We put DSDP graduates to work by aligning pipeline, innovation, and culture, which positions Hire Performance as the interface between Accenture’s business growth and our commitment to help Clients increase their diverse spend.

Accenture has been committed to inclusion and diversity for many years. They have a very successful LGBTQ ERG (Employee Resource Group). Wanting to know how to get involved on a more national level they sought out NGLCC to begin a national corporate partnership. Accenture recently announced that all US employees now have an opportunity to voluntarily identify their sexual orientation and gender. This information helps them better understand their workforce, informs their policies, and ensures they develop meaningful and relevant programs to support the engagement, career advancement and retention of their US employees. Currently, Accenture offers the opportunity to self-identify across several dimensions of diversity including ethnicity, disability and military experience.

“We believe the addition of LGBTQ Self-Identification—which is fully supported by our LGBTQ Employee Resource Group leaders—will further help us attract, grow and support our diverse workforce,” said Dickson.

Here are some thoughts to consider if you seek to engage with Accenture:

  1. The model is to staff every client engagement with an Accenture personnel. However, if they must augment staff, the goal is to ensure qualified suppliers are leveraged.
  2. Must invest time to understand the culture and dynamics of a global company; they are huge and complex.
  3. Understand what they do. Their website ( has a lot of information about what they are doing in the market.
  4. Do not expect an immediate contract; it takes time.
  5. Professional services and technology focused businesses work best for Accenture but not limited to those areas.
  6. Highly focused on digital, big data and artificial intelligence.
  7. By 2020, they will open 10 innovation hubs in key cities and will expand their regional network of technology delivery centers across the US.
  8. Creating jobs across all their businesses – Strategy, Consulting, Digital, Technology and Operations.
  9. Will be looking for talent with a broad range of disciplines, including engineering, computer science, analytics, digital, design, security and other new economy skills at all career levels.
  10. Continue to network with personnel on a regular basis and remember, it does take time to build that right relationship.