Social innovation in Responsible Business
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When you become a parent, it changes you.
I was always aware of child poverty as I am half Brazilian. When I visited family in Rio, I remember seeing that there were children my age growing up on the streets. It had a profound effect on me.
I spent much of my career as an accountant doing pro bono work and when that did not feel like enough, I moved to the charity sector working in international development, which took me all over the world to some amazing places and enabled me to learn about many global issues and solutions.
However, it was only when I became a parent that I had my idea to help change the lives of orphaned and abandoned children.
A year ago, Deloitte embarked on an ambitious programme to change the futures of one million people. One year on and the impact of One Million Futures is truly impressive. However, for Fiona Walker, Responsible Business lead Partner, it is the individual stories that are truly inspirational.
The results are in. In the last year our professionals have volunteered 31,000 hours of their time and provided £700,000 of pro bono services to the 54 schools, charities and social enterprises we have partnered with through One Million Futures. Already more than 138,000 'futures' have been directly impacted and, now we are helping these amazing organisations to develop and grow, we are on target to reach one million.
While these figures are incredibly impressive (and if you are one of our volunteers, thank you), what really stands out as we look back at the first year of One Million Futures are the individual stories of lives transformed by education or training opportunities.
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.
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?