Impact and reporting in Responsible Business
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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.
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.
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.
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.
I was lucky enough to be invited to the panel session as part of a day-long Social Impact Workshop. It was hosted by Deloitte UK and attended by many of the Deloitte Social Innovation Pioneers—a programme that is working with 30 socially innovative businesses, providing them with a bespoke package of Deloitte support to help them mainstream and become investment-ready.
During the session, a significant part of the discussion revolved around how social businesses can demonstrate their impact in society with rigour and consistency. Someone from the floor made the very insightful remark that (to paraphrase) 'Surely this impact measurement stuff is only going to work and have real value if all businesses measure their performances in this way, not just ‘social businesses’. He took the words right out of my mouth.
I am part of a DTTL team that, along with clients and partners from other industries and sectors, is trying to ‘reimagine business’ and look again at the purpose of business. Can we recalibrate the contribution that our core business activities make to global society? At its most fundamental, isn’t business, hasn’t it always been, and shouldn’t it always be about building society?