Growing up in Belfast during the 1970s and 1980s, I was the first person in my family to pass the 11+, to go to grammar school and then onto university. I am now a Partner at Deloitte, one of the biggest management consultancies in the UK. I work hard and enjoy what I do and never really thought that my story was in any way unusual. Having three children of my own now and seeing how hard they have to work and the competition that exists for jobs, I imagine that my story would be less common today.
We know from research that socio-economics is a major determinant of educational outcomes. Another impact of this is that many young people find themselves in challenging schools without the support they need to make the best choices or compete for the best jobs. And this is often exacerbated by employers who want to recruit in the most cost-effective way possible – which often means going to just a select few universities where they can take their pick from a very talented and high performing student population. But increasingly this is not a diverse one.
Continue reading "Drawing from a wider pool" »
Ask most businesses these days if they have a CSR policy and they’ll almost always say ‘yes’. Which is fine, I guess.
There’s an acknowledgement that business does have a responsibility to contribute to broader society, whether through charitable donations, allowing staff days off to undertake volunteer work, or whatever. Again, all fine.
Categorising corporate social responsibility as some kind of policy – a box to be ticked – for me undersells the importance of organisations with resource, talent, expertise, contacts, networks and funding being able to genuinely do some good.
One strand of Deloitte’s approach to this is the Social Innovation Pioneers programme. This invites applications from social enterprises, i.e. businesses which have social good as the key metric on their balance sheets, for a year’s worth of mentoring and business support from some of Deloitte’s senior people. The idea is that we can help them take a great idea and turn it into a great business, so they can amplify their intended benefit to society.
Continue reading "Why businesses can rarely, if ever, do enough for charity" »
In recent years there has been a distinct move towards strategic corporate charity partnerships. Although there has been some debate as to exactly what this term means, it is essentially a partnership which engages both parties in more than simply employee fundraising. Strategic partnerships are about engaging different areas of both organisations to reach shared objectives.
The traditional view of corporate charity partnerships has long gone, and although we are of course grateful to those who fill our buckets and collection tins with much-needed funds, we are equally delighted to be diversifying our ways of working.
The Deloitte and Alzheimer’s Society partnership, as well as Deloitte’s relationships with MIND and Prostate Cancer UK, are embodiments of this new way of working. As the Account Manager from Alzheimer’s Society, I am delighted to be part of what is shaping up to be a true strategic partnership.
Continue reading "Just think what we can achieve" »
Our vision at Tong High School is to be the heartbeat of a powerful network in which everyone involved thrives on the challenge to improve and get better every day. Quality, organic, influential networks and partnerships can be the route to the success of schools and students.
At Tong we have been building our powerful network for the past few years. Our local, national and international partnerships are mutually beneficial and positively influence the achievement of all students, staff and our wider community.
There have been many benefits for children and young people arisen through our networks, but the poignant moment for me is when a child realises their aspirations and has the confidence to know that it can become a reality.
As a school we play a vital role in building and creating a powerful network. Not all children and young people are fortunate enough to come from families who have personal networks which allow doors to open.
Continue reading "Successfully bridging the gap between aspiration and reality" »
Recent positive news about the UK economy has been incredibly welcome. Britain is back growing and working. And the positive news on our education system, announced in last month’s school leagues tables, proves that Britain is learning too. More schools are meeting government targets and our country’s talented and dedicated teachers are creating a brighter future for many young people. But we are failing the next generation until all young people have the opportunity to secure a successful future for themselves and our country. The business community can change all this.
Last month after 35 years in industry I was delighted to become Chair of the charity Teach First. And I’ve joined at an exciting time, with the fortunes of six Teach First teachers being the subject of the acclaimed BBC Three documentary Tough Young Teachers.
Continue reading "Giving every young person a chance" »
Not long after Brett Wigdortz established Teach First, Deloitte engaged in doing what we do best. We used our skills and capabilities to support the organisation’s growth and established a relationship that is now over 10 years old and which in my view sets the standard for the many charity partners we have established since.
In the early days we provided accountancy support to help get the charity up and running and one of our audit partners, Sarah Shillingford, remains a Trustee today. Our initial relationship was through graduate recruitment and we worked with Teach First to interview potential graduates who would teach for two years and then join Deloitte’s graduate programme. Over time the relationship has grown and evolved.
Continue reading "Ten years of partnering with Teach First" »
When I joined Deloitte in 2010 as an Analyst in the Strategy Consulting team, it was fairly early days for corporate social innovation. Corporate Responsibility (CR) was still very much focused on fundraising and charity days at Deloitte. Three years later social innovation is a key part of Deloitte’s CR programme and even, dare I say, its firm-wide strategy. CEO David Sproul is a vocal supporter of social enterprise and often recounts stories of Deloitte’s projects and involvement in the sector.
What I found most exciting at Deloitte is the number of people who believe in the potential of corporate social innovation and spend their own time developing initiatives and raising awareness. For these committed individuals across the firm, social innovation is a highly valued way to support scalable social businesses.
Continue reading "On the inside of Corporate Social Innovation" »
For me, some good has come from having depression. I'm more compassionate, more motivated and I know more about how my brain works. I try to understand other people better: that colleague who seems blunt probably doesn’t dislike me but is just having a bad day. But in spite of these benefits, having depression wasn’t exactly a walk in the park.
Awareness of mental illness is rising, with the realisation that depression isn’t the emotion of sadness and an anxiety disorder isn’t the same as feeling anxious. For me, depression feels like the day before you get a horrible cold: you’re not sneezing and don't look ill yet; but you feel like you can't think and that all your five senses are smothered in cotton wool. Turning the wrong way out of the lift or spelling your own name wrong feels like the worst thing you’ve ever done. Depression can cause you to feel very sad, hopeless or guilty, to have no interest in anything and to find it difficult to make decisions.
Continue reading "Breaking the silence surrounding mental health" »
Investing in skills and talents remains a key priority for Deloitte. This doesn’t just benefit us and our clients and employees, it also benefits the wider UK economy.
All companies, large and small, across the breadth of the economy need to invest in the skills and talents of their staff. This is not just a matter of keeping up appearances and being able to boast about having the most qualified workforce in the land, but good societal sense. From the perspective of a company, investing to create a highly skilled workforce means having a workforce that is more productive, motivated and can improve the quality of the service or product in question. From the perspective of employees, increased skills can improve their earning potential and expand their career horizons.
Added to that, employees moving between organisations will bring new perspectives to old problems, share their skills and experiences with others to spread good practices and help develop the nation’s overall skills base.
As part of our own Deloitte Impact Report we undertook some analysis to understand our own talent impact.
Continue reading "Investing in skills and talents" »
To achieve parity for women in decision-making roles, men must beware of unconscious bias
Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg jolted the gender debate when she invited more men to talk about gender, arguing that's what it will take to make change at the top.
In an attempt to discuss the issue as a male and as global chairman of an organisation that employs about a hundred thousand women, I recently attended a session at the United Nations Global Compact Leaders' Summit on Women's Empowerment Principles (WEP). The room was bursting at the seams, but with the wrong audience – more than 90% were women. The speakers must have felt they were preaching to the choir.
Sandberg is right. In order for real change to occur, men need to step up and take the issue seriously. As an accountant, you might expect me to start with the numbers. Women perform 66% of the world's work, produce 50% of the food, and own approximately 40% of all private businesses in the formal economy. Women are expected to control approximately $28tn in consumer spending by next year yet remain gravely underrepresented at the helm of business organisations.
Continue reading "Gender diversity in leadership is key to business success" »