When former BP Chief Executive Lord Browne, one of the earliest proponents of corporate social responsibility (CSR), declared last year that the movement was “dead”, he was not alone in his cynicism. Such has been the worrying regularity of corporate scandals that the idea of business putting purpose or society before profit had for some time been attracting a large dose of suspicion. It is somewhat surprising, therefore, that it is the emergence of more controversy – this time in the charitable sector – that has prompted a reassessment of how important the contribution of business can be to society.
The string of scandals involving not-for-profit companies during 2015 - allegations of unethical fund-raising practices, misuse of donor data and the collapse of Kids Company - raised questions in both the media and political spectrums about transparency and accountability. In particular, there were concerns about the implications of any damage to the public’s trust, with recent data showing charities had slipped to 12th place from 8th in a listed of trusted public institutions – below television and radio stations. Consequently, there have been calls for increased governance, more regulation to guide behaviour and additional scrutiny of charity trustees.
Through Deloitte’s experience of social enterprise and charity partnerships, we have learned a lot about the various and complex challenges of these organisations, and how business can make a difference. Our work with our Social Innovation Pioneers and our National Charity Partners (NCPs) has demonstrated that by providing support that goes beyond just raising money, business can play a vital role in helping charities and social enterprise increase their scale and social impact. As well as supporting them to grow their organisations in a robust and durable way.
Over the past three years we have helped our NCPs - Alzheimer’s Society, Mind and Prostate Cancer UK - to improve efficiency and processes, while at the same time increasing their reach and supporting them to grow sustainably. This has ranged from strengthening the dementia research community in the UK, informing strategy by mapping prostate cancer across the country, to helping develop a Workplace Wellbeing Index to support employers look after the mental health of their staff. Our hope is that our resources can help provide a lasting legacy for these organisations as well as their beneficiaries.
The collaboration with these NCPs shows how business can help charities to become more effective and resilient. Such support can range from developing a successful and long-term strategy, decreasing reliance on external fundraising, to making sure charities can measure the impact of different policies. By implementing these elements of good governance, charities can provide the confidence around how they are using their funds, increasing transparency to help re-build trust.
But this collaboration is of as much value to our firm as we hope it has been to our NCPs. For example, we know millennials want to work for companies that share their personal values and that they measure success in terms of more than just financial performance. This means we need to give our people and our future talent the opportunity to use their skills and knowledge with a whole range of clients, in particular with those that focus on society. Providing this breadth of experience of working with a variety of charities and social enterprises is a critical part of how we will recruit, attract and retain the best talent. Clearly, there are advantages for business in working with charities, but ultimately I believe this collaboration can also bring wider benefits to society as a whole.
During responsible business week last year I asked whether the purpose of business could be both about profit and social responsibility. Some would argue that CSR has failed in its objective to build a stronger relationship between business and society and allowed companies to promote their virtues while ignoring the important issues. But I believe our work with charities and social enterprise has shown CSR is not a one-off or a nice-to-have. At its heart, it means business finding ways to use its resources to make a positive, enduring impact that matters for society. And, crucially, helping re-build trust in charities so they can continue the much-needed support they provide to our society’s most vulnerable.
There is a rich and fascinating history that stems from Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM); one that has been pioneered by some of the greatest and most creative minds, including Stephen Hawkins, Tim Berners-Lee and Ada Lovelace.
But despite the feats accomplished in these fields, we know that too few young people are pursuing an active interest in these subjects, with massive implications on their attainment and the opportunities available to them in the future. This is especially true amongst pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds, with fifty eight per cent of those eligible for free school meals in 2011 failing to achieve a maths GCSE grade at A*-C (Skills Commission, 2011).
Unsurprisingly, this is just as daunting for businesses and the wider economy. A report that was published in 2013 by the Social Market Foundation, titled: In the Balance: The STEM human capital crunch, revealed a significant mismatch between future employment requirements and the supply of skills in the STEM sector. The report goes on to suggest that the Government’s aim to rebalance the economy away from financial services is inconceivable due to a 40,000 per year shortage of STEM graduates.
Undoubtedly then, the need for more young people to recognise the value of the STEM subjects is crucial – both for themselves, businesses, and the wider economy.
At Teach First, we are therefore delighted to see the return of Deloitte’s annual Technology, Media & Telecommunications (TMT) Predictions Schools Challenge. By working with sixth form students from Deloitte Access partner schools as well as a wider network of schools, this event directly supports our vision for ensuring that all pupils have access to the opportunities in life that they deserve.
Continue reading "Technology, Media & Telecommunications Predictions Schools Challenge 2016: An exciting vision for the future!" »
Deloitte are long-standing supporters of disability sport. Since 2007, through our partnership with the British Paralympic Association (BPA), we have helped prepare hundreds of athletes for four Paralympic Games, each one inspiring young disabled people to find a sport that suits them through our Deloitte Parasport portal.
As we approach the 6 month countdown to the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, we are delighted to welcome ten of the Rio-bound GB Para-rowing squad to our London offices in New Street Square. These athletes are not here to row however, but to coach the 5 Deloitte teams entering the annual service-line ‘Row-Off’ – a 20km relay race that will test the endurance of our people on an ‘ergo’ rowing machine, which last year raised almost £30k.
As ever, the generosity of our people, our clients and the public in supporting this event will help those GB Para-rowers on their way to Rio, help support developing athletes who require extra financial support and, ultimately, inspire young disabled people who watch the Games to be more active.
Tom Aggar, AS Paralympic Champion in Beijing 2008, explains how important private funding is to the team and to the future of the sport in helping them excel on the global stage.
“It’s the time of year when, for a rare day, we rowers get to stand on the side-lines and spectate, whilst providing encouragement to what has become in recent years an annual sporting spectacle in the heart of London’s financial district. Deloitte has supported Paralympic sport at many levels, and this involvement has extended to an annual inter-department rowing race, directly outside the New Street Square office, in support of the GB Rowing Team's Para rowers as we head towards Rio this summer. Clearly there aren't any suitable stretches of water suitable for an actual on-water rowing race, however a number rowing ergometers will be linked-up and teams pushed to their limits in a marathon relay race.
Since Para-rowing first featured at Beijing 2008, the GB Rowing Team Paralympic squad has established itself as a strong nation on the international stage. Whilst a lot of this is due to the hard work and determination of the athletes, the truth is, it wouldn't be possible without the support, logistics, coaching and everything that goes into producing medal winning performances at a Paralympic games. I count myself very privileged to be part of such a setup and feel fully supported as an athlete, and as a result have confidence that I know I am able to get the most out of myself and my training day-to-day. For me, there are 6 months of training and 2 international races to help me prepare for Rio 2016. Deloitte's support makes a huge difference when it comes to ensuring the current team are ‘Rio ready’ but also for those athletes that no one knows about yet, training behind the scenes with aspirations of success at Tokyo 2020 and beyond.”
Visit New Street Square, London at 12.00 on 10 March to cheer on our rowers | To support GB Para-rowing on their way to Rio and beyond, please donate here
Hidden gems at the Home of Christmas Shopping
Early November saw Kensington Olympia come alive with all things magical and festive for the annual Spirit of Christmas fair. This ‘home of Christmas shopping’ in association with House & Gardens played host to hundreds of exhibitors selling everything from champagne and jewellery to holidays and garden design.
I was lucky enough to be able to join the ‘From Babies with Love’ stand, where Founder Cecilia Crossley had beautifully crafted a display of their new range of organic baby clothes. With all profits going to orphaned babies around the world, what better incentive did I need to roll up my sleeves and offer my support?
With so many exciting businesses under one roof, I took the opportunity to do a recce and see what other social enterprises I could find at the Fair. It didn’t take me long to stumble across Tea People, the speciality tea company that sends 50% of its profits to education projects in tea growing regions. Just a few stands along I found Jollie Goods, a sock business with a mission to support those facing issues of homelessness. My continued hunt led me to Bushbells, my eye caught by the vibrantly colourful kikoy cotton beachwear and clothing. Only when chatting to the team about my recent trips to Kenya did I discover that all their proceeds are supporting educational projects on the Kenyan coast.
The list grew as my explorations continued and I was pleasantly surprised to see so many businesses with a social mission exhibiting alongside the mainstream. Social Enterprise UK statistics have shown that entrepreneurs are choosing to start up social enterprises rather than mainstream businesses – 35% of social enterprises are start-ups, more than three times the proportion of SME start-ups.
This was certainly evident at the Fair and extremely encouraging, but it often took some digging to find those businesses creating social value in their communities. This begs the question - should the businesses be doing more to promote their social impact? Or is it only right that their products are more prominent than their stories? As a Marketer I would always argue that a desirable brand should be priority if a business is to be sustainable. However, in an environment where a captive audience is presented with significant choice, the rules should perhaps be bent and consumers should be given the opportunity to use their purchasing power to make a difference.
This debate could go on, but the fact that hidden gems are thriving alongside mainstream business is reason enough for celebration. I hope that Spirit of Christmas sees the trend continue for many years to come.
Continue reading "Social Mobility Week: It's not where you're from, it's where you're going" »
Last month I was lucky enough to be one of the 44 participants chosen to take part in a challenge of a lifetime climbing Mt. Cotopaxi, a 5,897m high ice capped active volcano in Ecuador all to raise funds and awareness for our 3 Charity Partners: Alzheimer’s Society, Mind, and Prostate Cancer UK.
The preparation was pretty intense – on day 2 we walked 9 hours at altitude into a driving wind and camped overnight at 4,000m in the wind and lashing rain. That was followed by climbing the 4,750m peak of Mt. Ruminahui on day 4, which involved a seriously scary final ascent to the summit rock on which only two could stand at once (to stare down at the 2,000m vertical drop the other side).
None of that prepared us for the final night’s ascent of Cotopaxi. This involved a 1,100m vertical ascent through the night in extreme cold due to the wind chill, climbing in crampons, ice pick in hand, up a glacier only to be greeted at the top by acid rain and sulphurous fumes!
As I reflect on the journey, here are 2 things I will take away from the experience forever:
- Everyone has a story to tell. I am inspired by the other participants who took part in the challenge. Hearing the stories of why we had all chosen to take part during the training walks was one of the most enjoyable things on the journey – particularly from those who had personal connections to the charitable causes. For me it highlighted how much we can learn from one another if we take the time to connect and share our stories with others.
- We are all capable of more than we first think. The challenge was equal parts physically and mentally draining, and there were many moments when I thought the exhaustion would get the better of me and I would throw in the towel. The important thing I learnt was to just take one small step at a time … small bits of progress soon and up to a big achievement, and before you know it a campsite is in sight, where a comforting cup of apple and cinnamon tea is waiting.
I’ll happily admit this was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done – but hands down one of the most rewarding too!
Becoming a parent heighted my concern for the welfare of children universally.
Of course the instinct to protect my children comes first, but the thought of any child, anywhere, living in a rubbish dump, sickens me. I believe everyone feels this way, parents especially. I was out shopping for my son’s baby clothes and thought to myself: if I could buy beautiful baby clothes and know the profit helps children in need, why would I buy anywhere else? Because I couldn’t find a way, I set up From Babies with Love.
From Babies with Love is the baby brand that donates 100% of its profit to orphaned and abandoned children.
We donate every penny of profit from our beautiful organic baby clothes to SOS Children, to build and run children’s villages around the world. In these safe, happy places, some of the world’s most vulnerable children can grow up in a loving family.
Earlier this year we launched our Maternity and Paternity Leave Gift Service with Deloitte as our first large client.
Continue reading "A pioneering new service" »
On 17 June, the first group of Deloitte staff set off on the challenge of a lifetime. Deloitte’s Charity Challenge 2015 sees 246 Deloitte staff, including 24 partners, undertake four challenges across four continents in an effort to raise £1 million for our charity partners Alzheimer’s Society, Mind and Prostate Cancer UK. They will be climbing Mt Kilimanjaro, Cotopaxi and Mulhacén in Spain as well as a triathlon style jungle trek, mountain bike and white water rafting activity in Borneo. This is largest fundraiser we have ever attempted!
I have been involved with this project from its inception over 2 years ago, alongside our partner sponsor and the Head of Corporate Responsibility, so I have mixed emotions now that it is all finally underway. As the Charitable Giving lead at Deloitte, I work directly with our charity partners and have developed a strong relationship with them all. I have a personal connection with two of the charities which means that my passion to raise awareness and funds is more than just about it being my job.
Continue reading "The challenge of a lifetime" »
There’s a quiet revolution taking place in our country - the way in which we think and talk about mental health. In homes, communities and workplaces, more and more people are being open about their experiences, and there is a growing level of awareness amongst employers, civil servants and politicians that this issue affects one in four of us.
At Mind, we have been playing a vital role in working with many organisations. With the support of Business in the Community, many businesses have now signed the Time to Change pledge and hundreds of thousands of people took part in the Time to Talk Day in February. We have ambitions to turn the growing awareness of mental health into action and it is through partnerships with highly effective businesses such as Deloitte that we believe we can make the most of this rare opportunity.
Continue reading "Building a legacy through a progressive partnership" »
There are 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK, over 40,000 of those are under the age of 65 and still of working age. With numbers set to rise, businesses have an increasing social responsibility to become more aware of dementia and help break its stigma.
Recently, Alzheimer’s Society was proud to announce that the Dementia Friends programme has reached one million people. The campaign has harnessed the energy of individuals, communities and organisations, allowing anyone to learn more about the condition, and making sure people with dementia are understood and included. As a Dementia Friends Champion myself, I have provided sessions to a range of people, including Deloitte’s Senior Leadership Team.
Continue reading "Corporate Partnerships can support with awareness of our causes" »