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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It provided us with a lifelong network of other successful people. Most of us had never been in a room with people who had high career aspirations like ourselves, had already started successful businesses or simply shared the same interests that some of our friends at home failed to understand. I think it helped to form a transition in our mind-set from leaders of our societies at University, in our local communities, to leaders of the world, leaders of the now.
Taking up the role of Relationship Manager for the Social Innovation Pioneers programme has been one of the most inspirational and developmental activities I have ever undertaken at Deloitte.
In this role, my goal was to support my Pioneer to go to scale. This involved working closely for a year with The Brightside Trust, a social enterprise which provides a unique e-mentoring portal to universities, businesses and other charities, helping young people achieve their full potential through education, employment and self-employment.
I am an experienced management consultant and a certified Executive Coach. Executive coaching is a facilitative one-to-one, mutually designed relationship between a professional coach and a key contributor who has a powerful position in an organisation. My skills and knowledge came together perfectly and over the course of the year, I was able to provide sustained guidance, support and challenge that allowed Brightside to put in place strategies to develop and grow their business. On reflection, I believe the role empowered me to become a Business Coach to my Pioneer.
Over the last six months the Deloitte National Charity Partnership has been at the forefront of every mind in our Corporate Responsibility Team. In January 2013 we launched the employee led process to select three new national charity partners from 1 June 2013 – 31 May 2016. The process resulted in 120 hugely worthy causes being nominated by our staff, over 50 volunteers from across the business taking part in the selection process, and more than 5,000 of our staff voting on a shortlist of charity nominations to select the final three charity partners.
So it is with mixed emotions that we say goodbye to Help for Heroes, Children with Cancer UK and Cancer Research UK. Over the last three years our staff have raised more than £2m, provided 3,000 hours of pro-bono support and over 5,000 volunteers have supported the charities through a number of skills based opportunities, corporate challenges and fundraising activities.
It is extremely difficult to pick out highlights from such a successful and rewarding partnership, which I hope has left a truly sustainable legacy. I’m sure every individual across the firm who has supported the partnership in some way has their own personal stories to tell. For me, a particular highlight was a short secondment to Help for Heroes in 2012, where I supported the Communications team and had the opportunity to see first-hand the impact of our work. Tedworth house, Help for Heroes’ flagship Personnel Recovery Centre, was converted in less than four months, on time and to budget with the direct support of our people. Deloitte worked at the heart of the project, utilising the full resources of the firm to support, develop and build at a strategic and operational level. The most tangible success of Tedworth House is the legacy it will leave. The House has, to date, supported over 400 wounded soldiers and will remain in operation for at least the next 99 years.
The Deloitte Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (DIIE) is an exclusive ten year partnership with the London Business School, which through its research, teaching and outreach activities, will enable our clients, people and wider society to access the latest Insights and tools needed to lead innovation within complex environments.The Deloitte Institute holds an annual programme of executive roundtable events in order to showcase the research arising from the Institute and to disseminate that research and its findings to a high level corporate audience.
An executive roundtable was held on January 30th led by Prof. Ioannis Ioannou and featuring Heather Hancock, Deloitte Managing Partner for Talent and Brand. The event was hosted by Sir Andrew Likierman and was attended by senior executives from major corporations and non-profits. In the video below, Ioannis and Heather summarise the roundtable discussion with Ioannis sharing some of his latest research on the drivers of corporate social innovation.
“In this project we explore which organizations engage in social innovation and why they do so. Social innovation refers to those product, process or business model innovations that are specifically designed to synergistically generate economic as well as environmental and social good. Social innovation is powerful because it harnesses the full power of profit-seeking businesses to invest in opportunities that tackle the world’s most acute challenges (e.g. climate change and global warming). We hope to provide a better understanding of how social and environmental issues are increasingly becoming embedded in the firms’ business models and the drivers for this trend. We also examine whether, when and how such embeddedness creates economic, social and environmental impact.” Ioannis Ioannou, Assistant Professor, Strategy and Entrepreneurship
Claire Bench Claire is Head of Community Investment at Deloitte, leading the firm’s major community and volunteering initiatives including our Skills and Education programmes and our support to social enterprise.