Accenture on How the Company Is Driving Inclusive Change and Sustainability Through Technology and Accessibility

Originally published at accenture.com. Accenture ranked No. 2 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2021.

 

From the metaverse and NFTs (non-fungible tokens in blockchain) to considering sustainability in everything we do, being at the forefront of change means thinking about the world differently.

Not for what is, but for what it can be.

Ask someone who’s ever tried to use a computer without their hands. Or someone who can’t hear or see a presentation in a business meeting.

Eric, Liliane, Naomi and Everett can tell you exactly what it’s like when products are designed for some but not for all. They are leaders who are helping to drive a culture of change.

And they are visible, vocal advocates for inclusivity on every level.

 

Eric Dalmasso
Client Innovation Senior Manager, France

Eric knows a thing or two about customer experiences.

If not for wearing the “mini-bionic ear helpers,” as Eric calls them, (hearing aids, to others), the world would sound quite different to him. It’s a perspective that helps him think differently about the solutions he provides to clients in the online and offline worlds, from considering the audio configuration of a physical space accommodating the hearing impaired in live meetings to how this will factor into extended realities within the future virtual spaces of the metaverse.

In Eric’s 21 years at Accenture, he’s tackled many ambitious international front- and back-end projects. From being a client liaison to delivery lead, he’s now a Research and Development Lead at Accenture Interactive in France. Eric is responsible for uncovering innovative solutions and technologies to address client needs.

And while Eric’s hearing aids help him overcome day-to-day challenges, he often relies on video captions or transcripts so he can absorb information at once without having to rewind. It’s accommodations like these that should be ever-present, but unfortunately, they are not always.

“Being open with my colleagues allows me to focus on my work rather than the perceived obstacles,” he says. “It’s simple: Accenture enables me to thrive with continuous learning opportunities while evaluating me solely based on my performance.”

 

Liliane Claudia
Visual Design Senior Analyst, Brazil

Inclusivity isn’t just a buzzword for Liliane Claudia, who knows what it’s like to see the world differently after a medical accident left her a quadriplegic at age 14. Creating inclusive experiences is the heart of her work at Accenture Interactive in the Fjord design studio in Brazil, overseeing accessibility and process-centered design.

As a Visual Design Senior Analytics and Accessibility Controller, her role is to know how people with disabilities interact and consume so that our deliveries are assertive in terms of accessibility.

Without the use of her hands to design, she has the unique ability to develop projects that are inclusive every step of the way. It’s the reason she worked with Adobe XD to create a successful plug-in that solves a major workflow issue for her and other designers with physical disabilities. It’s even named in her honor—the Liliane Canvas Control.

It’s also why she created a workshop for leaders and executives in the telecom market using a tool called Usability-WCAG, which aims to learn about the accessible usability of the product through disabled proto-personas.

“Accessibility is the result of inclusive actions. I try to take exactly this knowledge to customers, and everyone expresses curiosity about the daily lives of people with disabilities,” she says.

“The proficiency of assistive technologies, guidelines and regulations for digital products are critical. However, getting to know the daily lives of people with disabilities up close is a necessary differential.”

 

Naomi Rajendram
Head of Salesforce ASEAN, Singapore

Naomi Rajendram helps clients achieve double-digit growth in her work as Head of the Salesforce Business Group in Southeast Asia. She’s one of Singapore’s 100 Women in Tech driving change as a powerful leader for inclusivity. And she’s often greeted by colleagues in sign language.

Naomi is 70% deaf and will lose all her hearing — “or gain all of her deafness,” as she says — in the next few years. It’s the “small acts of consideration” that help make her successful and alleviates her worry about needing a “plan B” career.

Among our “boomerang” alumni, Naomi returned to Accenture after three years at another organization and four with Accenture in Melbourne, Australia. A champion for disability rights, she has spearheaded programs like DeafTember, a month-long campaign to spread awareness around Deaf Culture, the importance of Sign Language, and is working on a Deaf Program to identify d/Deaf and HoH professionals who want to become developers, partnering with Salesforce for specialized training.

“I feel included when people turn their videos on in meetings, when closed captions are enabled, and people greet me in sign language,” she says. “Work feels free from barriers when colleagues offer to join me in one-on-one meetings as a note-taker so I don’t feel there’s any context that I might have missed.”

 

Everett Burkett
Senior Technology Architect, United States

As a Senior Technology Architect, Everett Burkett hasn’t let anything get in the way of climbing the ranks at Accenture over the past 16 years. Not even the development of an unexpected condition that would change the course of his life.

Joining as an SAP technology consultant in 2005, Everett leads state-of-the-art SAP technology projects for clients that require staying on top of the latest hardware and cloud technology specifications and managing the teams responsible for installing, configuring, developing and securing these applications.

Yet, most people Everett works with don’t know that he has Parkinson’s Disease, a degenerative condition that causes tremors, severe muscle pain, difficulty walking, inability to control speaking volume and other discomforts that may not be visible unless very closely observed.

After cycling through neurologists, being placed on the wrong medication and dealing with the stressful uncertainty of tremendous physical changes without a proper diagnosis all during the global impact of COVID, he says it was his colleagues at Accenture that helped him get through this time of need.

“I started with a small tribe of associates and detailed my challenges,” he says. “My Accenture colleagues were wonderfully candid in letting me know that they had noticed or not noticed, which to me was very important. I now discreetly introduce myself to individuals and inform them of my ‘unique ability’ early on in a project, so that everyone is aware that I have certain challenges, but it doesn’t affect overall delivery to our clients.”

Spending more time on the computer while being homebound during the pandemic, he encountered certain difficulties with typing that made it a challenge to respond to virtual conversations in a timely manner.

To help enable his workflow, Everett uses an external keyboard and voice-to-text accommodations that provide some relief, though he notes that there’s plenty of room for improvement in these technologies. Still, he says that work is an essential benchmark of stability for him, which is important.

“I want to reframe my disability as a ‘unique ability.’ I find that my colleagues have a better understanding.” he says. “The positive impact is that it has helped me in my SAP work by understanding the challenges people face when they’re met with new technology and capabilities. I now more readily understand the struggles that end-users face.”

More than 1 billion people around the world have a disability.

We know it’s important to have everyone at the table — including persons with disabilities — to design more inclusively and unleash innovation and appreciate the contributions they make.

With 36,000 Persons with Disabilities Champions at Accenture across 52 countries, our people are rethinking inclusion as an everyday mindset, creating a culture of equality that enables everyone to be their authentic selves, thrive and progress their careers to new heights.

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