From left: Stephen Donnelly, Sarah Francis, Dan Shiels, David Mullane, Patricia Fitzgerald, Declan Buckley, Mark Ryan, Damien O’Neill, Allianz, Noel Sutton, Michael Connell Lisa Connell, Anna Rodgers, Dave Shaw, Peter White and Hilary Skuse

Accenture’s sponsorship of the Gaze Festival began in 2012 and was extended to a three year sponsorship in early 2013.  Their sponsorship of the Festival is a strong corporate statement that reflects the interests and diversity of Accenture staff and clients. The sponsorship has generated widespread media coverage for the partners, helping to increase festival audiences by over 30% in 2012 and increase awareness for Accenture’s Straight Allies’ Programme and diversity agenda.

Accenture’s sponsorship of the GAZE film festival has served to confirm its commitment to inclusivity in the workplace, while for festival organisers it provides a degree of certainty. For 21 years, GAZE Film Festival has been celebrating Irish and international lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) film, providing a platform for LGBT cinema and filmmakers.

However, the festival had never had a major sponsor and relied mostly on funding from the Arts Council and Dublin City Council. For its 20th anniversary it needed to create something bigger and better, but in order for that to happen, GAZE needed a sponsor. Enter Accenture.

The firm, which has featured in the Best Workplaces in Ireland list in the past, promotes an inclusive workplace and has made cultural engagement a feature of the workplace over the years. It was the perfect fit, but GAZE had to ensure that with any sponsorship deal it maintained its integrity.

Noel Sutton, festival manager, says because of the festival’s work in the LGBT community, it also had to be careful about its identity.

“We didn’t want to sell our brand and didn’t want to sell our name. It was a tough fit to find an organisation or sponsor, but Accenture wanted to sponsor it in a subtle way, and it really fit perfectly.”

Dan Sheils, People Advocacy lead with Accenture, says the firm recognised the importance of GAZE retaining that integrity.

“We were always very conscious that the brand, the Gaze logo and basic editorial of what’s shown in the festival, wasn’t taken over by Accenture,” he says.

Accenture’s initial sponsorship investment was integral to the production of the festival but the company offered a lot more, collaborating with festival organisers around social media, PR and marketing.

The success of the sponsorship bore itself out in the increased numbers attending. The festival increased its footfall by 40pc, with audience attendances increasing from 6,000 in 2011 to 8,500 in 2012. Ticket sales increased by 31pc, and importantly the attendance of the youth market, ages 18 to 24, increased by 10pc.

“Their collaboration with us was a much more important cog to the wheel than we imagined, and much more than financial support,” says Sutton.

On the back of the success of last year’s festival, Accenture has now extended its sponsorship deal with the festival for three years.

Sheils says the sponsorship of GAZE has helped the firm walk the walk when it comes to inclusivity in the workplace.

“At an overriding level, the general support of inclusivity and diversity in the workforce is very much a core value of Accenture’s. We’ve traditionally invested to try to ensure that people of all creeds and orientation feel comfortable. We like people to feel they can bring all of themselves to work,” he says.

“It’s one thing to say you support an inclusive workforce but there’s something very public about saying if you drive down the Liffey and see flags promoting the GAZE festival with the Accenture logo on them. That creates a very public statement that our clients, staff and our prospective employees can see.”

Sheils says the three-year extension of the deal highlights Accenture’s commitment to both the festival and diversity in the workplace.

“From our perspective, we wanted to partly demonstrate that this wasn’t something we did for just one year. From GAZE’s perspective, this gives them a degree of certainty that they have a long-running title sponsor going forward.

“I would like to see this become very much a mainstream sponsorship where we have greater number of clients and staff attend the festival. It’s a sponsorship that is mutually beneficial and I expect will continue to be successful.”

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