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19,000 laid off as tech consulting firm cuts jobs

By Sarah May
|
March 24, 2023

In another blow to the already hard-hit tech industry, Dublin, Ireland-based consulting firm Accenture has announced that it will lay off approximately 19,000 members of its workforce, as The Hill reports.

According to the company, the move is necessary to slash costs, make for more streamlined operations, and navigate what continues to be a volatile set of economic conditions across the globe.

Details of cuts emerge

Specifics of the layoffs were included in an Accenture filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in which the company indicated that the cuts would occur over the next 18 months.

More than half of those slated to lose their jobs will come from the non-billable, corporate areas of the company, and the reductions in total will amount to roughly 2.5% of the firm's headcount.

Explaining the rationale for its decisions, the company wrote in the filing, “Our results of operations are affected by economic conditions, including macroeconomic conditions, the overall inflationary environment, and levels of business confidence,” according to The Hill.

The filing continued, “There continues to be significant economic and geopolitical uncertainty in many markets around the world, which has impacted and may continue to impact our business, particularly with regard to wage inflation and volatility in foreign currency exchange rates. In some cases, these conditions have slowed the pace and level of client spending.”

Layoff wave spreads

Significant on its own accord, news of the Accenture layoffs also adds to the growing trend of job cuts in a host of industry sectors, with technology among the most impacted, as the Wall Street Journal notes.

Though large companies such as Meta, Amazon, and Alphabet have been among the entities slashing their ranks in recent months, strictly information technology-focused roles had largely been safe, but it now appears that the difficult conditions may not continue to spare such workers.

Another notable IT consulting and services provider, Cognizant Technology Solutions Corp. revealed a slowing in its growth back in February, and its CFO, Jan Siegmund, noted that the company is “monitoring changes in the tech sector” amid struggles facing its larger clients, as the WSJ noted.

Consulting juggernaut McKinsey & Co. announced last month that it was on the cusp of cutting upwards of 2,000 if its employee count, and Capital One Financial Corp. slashed 1,100 workers from one of its technology-focused groups, adding to the sense of unease in the sector.

Volatility persists

News of Accenture's difficulties only bolsters the tech sector anxiety that has been brewing since late 2022 and the early months of this year, with tech behemoth Google having announced 12,000 cuts in January and Meta slashing 11,000 jobs in one round followed by another 10,000 earlier this month.

Google CEO Sunda Pichai informed his workforce of the cuts in a company-wide email in which he referenced market changes and challenges as the primary driver of the move.

“As an almost 25-year-old company, we're bound to go through difficult economic cycles,” Pichai began.

Though it was likely cold comfort to those who faced termination, the CEO optimistically added that “these are important moments to sharpen our focus, reengineer our cost base, and direct our talent and capital to our highest priorities,” perhaps in the hopes of coming out of the market downturn stronger than before.

Zuckerberg echoes challenges

With the staggering number of job cuts at Meta, it is not surprising that CEO Mark Zuckerberg has had to field some difficult questions from remaining employees about their own futures, something he did during a company-wide video call earlier this month, as the Daily Mail noted.

Zuckerberg gave voice to many of the same considerations cited by other job-cutting leaders within his industry, saying, “Higher interest rates lead to the economy running leaner, more geopolitical instability leads to more volatility, and increased regulation leads to slower growth and increased costs of innovation.”

Suggesting that things may remain difficult for quite some time, Zuckerberg added, “My guess is that we're not the only company that's going through multiple rounds of restructuring or things like that. I'm sure there are going to be a lot more as well over the long term.”

As The Hill noted earlier this year, “economic headwinds are posing a challenge to President Biden as he readies a possible reelection bid during which jobs and the economy are likely to take center stage,” and the substantial layoffs that are making headlines with increased frequency may bring to voters' minds prior predictions from declared 2024 candidate and former President Donald Trump who long ago warned that his successor's policies would yield the very problems cited by the aforementioned CEOs.