Raising aspirations in Responsible Business
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Do you remember your first job? You were probably nervous but also excited about what the future might hold. Too many young people miss out on this experience because of the barriers to finding employment. That is why Deloitte in Birmingham teamed up with Action for Children to help disadvantaged young people fulfil their potential. Clare King, who is leading the partnership, shares one truly inspirational story.
Chris was very quiet. He made little eye contact, did not speak much and appeared to have poor self-esteem.
Being referred to the STEPs Programme, one of the Action for Children initiatives supported by Deloitte, changed that.
When Deloitte launched One Million Futures in 2016 with the aim of helping one million people to get where they want to be, it was the start of an ambitious initiative to transform lives. Solomon Arouna, a student at one of the One Million Futures Partner Schools, St Mary Magdalene Academy in Islington, is just one of them.
I admit that I was not the best-behaved pupil when I started at St Mary Magdalene Academy.
I wasn’t particularly academic. I struggled to apply myself. And my main ambition back then was to be a footballer.
Today, I am head boy, much more confident, hope to achieve three A Levels in English Lit, Politics and Sociology and then study Law and Anthropology at university. And instead of being a footballer I now want to be a lawyer.
How did this transformation come about?
Catherine Stewart, Head of Business Change - ITS, at Deloitte UK, has been volunteering to talk in Deloitte Access schools as part of our social impact strategy, One Million Futures. So far, she has reached out to more than 350 girls to help change their futures.
When I left school there were few role models to inspire me to become a woman in technology. But I was lucky. I had a natural aptitude and, along with my passion to learn, have enjoyed an amazing career that has taken me all over the world.
Adam Watts, Assistant Manager in Restructuring Services in Bristol, and a group of colleagues slept rough for the night to raise awareness of homelessness and raise funding for 1625 Independent People. The charity is just one of those helped by the firm’s social impact strategy, One Million Futures.
Have you ever walked past a homeless person huddled in a doorway or cocooned in a sleeping bag on a bench? How did that make you feel?
It is difficult to see people living on the streets, particularly at this time of year when it is bitterly cold. Believe me, it is nothing like camping. It is also hard when you see young people who are the same age as you, without anywhere to live.
That is why I - along with seven colleagues from Deloitte in Bristol - recently volunteered to experience homelessness. Our aim was to raise awareness, as well as vital funds, for the charity 1625 Independent People which helps young people in and around Bristol, typically aged from 16 to 25, who are currently homeless or at risk.
Committed to making an impact on the refugee crisis, Deloitte has launched an initiative to help uncover Syrian refugee economic potential in Europe. As part of this, senior consultant, Gaya Sarin, 28, volunteered to be one of the researchers conducting interviews with Syrian refugees – alongside a team from Deloitte UK, Austria, and the Netherlands. The data they collected into the skills and ambitions of these refugees – as well as the barriers they face in accessing employment - forms part of a report just published by Deloitte and the Refugee Studies Centre at the University of Oxford. It is just one of the ways Deloitte is making a difference as part of its UK social impact strategy, One Million Futures.
The Syrian refugee sitting across the table was the same age as me. We had both left our homelands in search of opportunity – me as an economic migrant, he after fleeing from a terrible conflict that has claimed so many lives.
However, as we talked I discovered that our lives had little else in common.
As a passionate supporter of Teach First, the charity set up to tackle inequality in education, Nick Owen, Chairman of Deloitte NWE, recently went back to school. He talked to pupils at Cantell School in Southampton as part of The Big Class Challenge, and is calling on others to follow in his footsteps, delivering special classroom activities that will encourage and inspire children from low-income communities to ‘dream big’.
Standing in front of a class of 14-year-olds, I did wonder if they would connect with me. After all, I am a 50 something white bloke who lives in London and here I was in a school where half the pupils’ first language is not English and more than one in five qualify for free school meals.
The ace up my sleeve to grab their attention was my local connection.
I don’t know where they expected the Chairman of Deloitte to have been educated. It probably wasn’t the sixth form college not that far away in Chichester. Yes, I left school at 16 to do my A levels at sixth form college. I doubt they were anticipating that.
The start of the new academic year is an exciting time for pupils, and those that support them. As part of our education programme, Deloitte Access, volunteers are helping students from all backgrounds to prepare for success. Runa Khanom-Bakshi is a consultant in our Cardiff office, and her son, Yousuf, attends one of the schools benefiting from Access. After he achieved 13 A*s in his GCSEs, Runa shares her own experience of the difference that employers can make.
This time last year I was launching my online maths tutorial business…from the spare bedroom at the top of my house.
One year on and Hegarty Maths is now being used in over 10 per cent of secondary schools and by 5,700 teachers to plan classes, assess pupils and set and track homework.
More than one million hours of learning have already been completed and an astounding 60 million questions have been answered.
Going forward the figures are even more ambitious and we are on track to be in 1,000 schools helping one million children.
Impressed? Well, I haven’t done it on my own.
Every year, hundreds of thousands of young people all across the UK walk with some trepidation into their first interviews. Every year, the same demographics tend to get chosen: university educated, attendees of selective schools, articulate and well presented. But does this mean that the best candidates are getting the jobs? Or are we failing to spot a huge pool of talent that hasn’t had a chance to hone their interpersonal skills?
The charity City Gateway thinks so. They run courses offering young people aged 16-25 skills workshops, work experience, CV and interview skills preparation. Last year the charity was selected to be a Deloitte society partner as part of One Million Futures. Their aim is to bring hope to communities by developing the skills and confidence needed to secure long-term education and employment outcomes that will transform futures.