A positive pledge
Climate change is one of the greatest environmental challenges facing the world and will require significant collaborative action. Business has a vital role to play in Ireland's response to climate change and transition to a low carbon society. With this in mind, the first action taken by the Leaders' Group on Sustainability, which was formed by Business in the Community Ireland in 2018, was The Low Carbon Pledge. This saw Deloitte and 46 other companies commit to a 50 per cent reduction in scope one and two emissions by intensity by 2030. The commitment to this pledge was something that the CEO at the time, Brendan Jennings, was happy to undertake. In fact, Deloitte Ireland has been working to reduce our carbon footprint for many years and welcomed the opportunity to share our experience and progress with our customers, employees and the wider community. Some recent projects undertaken include the upgrade of mechanical and electrical plant machinery in our head office such as pump replacement, more energy efficient calorifiers and the installation of mains filtered boiling & chilled water systems throughout our offices. These are just a few of the measures we have taken that have culminated in significant progress towards meeting our commitment under the pledge. As of the end of 2018, we have achieved a 25 per cent reduction in scope 1 and 2 emissions per square meter against our baseline year of 2009.In June 2019, Business in the Community Ireland published a report providing an update on the group's progress with the pledge. The good news is that this stated that the companies are making significant progress towards achieving the target, as the average emissions intensity reductions was 36 per cent in the past year.Harry Goddard, who succeeded Brendan Jennings as CEO of Deloitte Ireland on 1 June 2019, commented: "Progress has been made, and we're ambitious to do more to ensure we can sustain our carbon reduction goals."
A winning agenda
Deloitte Ireland's Green Agenda Programme has delivered a large number of environmental improvements since its inception in 2008. It has enabled us to embed sustainability in our operations, while also raising awareness of environmental topics among our people. The programme spans a number of operational areas to address a range of environmental concerns including climate change, air pollution, water consumption, waste production, biodiversity and habitat loss, and resource consumption. As part of the programme, we've developed specific action plans for each of these areas, and implemented a number of initiatives to drive progress in them. For example, we held interactive Grow-It-Yourself workshops throughout 2018. These workshops highlighted the health, wellbeing and environmental benefits of growing your own food. Positively, these action plans have delivered results. Following our successful transition and recertification to ISO14001:2015 in 2017, we felt that it was time to see how we measured up against other companies and their efforts to be more environmentally friendly. Entering the Green Awards and The Chambers Ireland CSR awards offered us the opportunity to benchmark just how we were performing. It turns out we are not doing too badly! In fact, we are honoured to have been selected as winners of both the Green Professional Services Award at the Green Awards and the Excellence in Environment Award at the Chambers Ireland CSR Awards in 2018. Our success has given us further impetus to continue our efforts in this regard, and we are committed to the long term development of our Green Agenda Programme. We will continue to undertake new projects, engage with our stakeholders and challenge ourselves to make an impact that matters for our environment every day.
Everybody needs good neighbours
Located in the city centre, Deloitte's Dublin office is in the heart of the business district. And yet right beside us are the people and communities that call this part of the city home. With our goal of not just making an impact on our people and our clients, but on the societies in which we operate too, we wanted to support our neighbouring communities on the issues that matter most to them. A number of key initiatives demonstrate our commitment to doing just that, with education at their heart. We have partnered with the following charities and schools to support our work in this area: Age Action, CBS James Street Secondary School, Junior Achievement, Solas Project and Suas. Partnerships Our partnership with CBS James Street Secondary School provides scholarships to enable students to progress on to third level education. To complement this, we also host annual mock interviews and career talks to the students as well as providing Transition Year work experience placements. Our collaboration with Solas Project allows us to take part in schools, business and university programmes enabling us to support even more students and schools in the Dublin 8 area, in addition to its Compass Prison Programme. Our longstanding partnership with Junior Achievement Ireland, and its schools programme, has helped us support a further nine schools in Dublin 8 since the beginning of our partnership in 1996. It is to people of all age profiles that we try to be good neighbours too. Through our collaboration with Age Action, we facilitate computer literacy classes for the elderly in our offices once a week, every week. In FY19, we completed our seventeenth block of six-week classes in a row. Our work in Dublin 8 matters to us, as an organisation, but also to our people as individuals. Our goal is to help break down perceived barriers, whatever they may be, for the people we work with through these initiatives, while also providing our people with the meaningful volunteering experience they want. Through our collaboration with Age Action, we work to address the digital divide by supporting over 160 elderly people to date to increase their IT skills by empowering them to use these new skills to remain independent in a digital world. The computer literacy programme is growing year-on-year with 60 of these learners being part of the programmes in our most recent financial year; FY19. In collaboration with Junior Achievement Ireland, we've engaged with over 700 students in Dublin 8 since 2010 as well as 30 students in CBS James Street secondary school. These students have received support through CV workshops, mock interviews, work experience opportunities and in addition scholarships to progress to third level education without which they wouldn't be able to afford. A further 287 young people received support and mentoring from our volunteers in FY19 through the business, sport and prison programmes provided in collaboration with Solas Project. We're really proud of these numbers. But sometimes it is one moment that can be the most powerful. This year, the first student from CBS James Street in Dublin 8 will join Deloitte, in our Consulting department. We've delivered that opportunity. And that is why it is so important for us to be good neighbours. "The mock interview at the Deloitte offices was the first interview they ever had. It was a real eye opener for them. The feedback they received from the Deloitte volunteers was of great use. An aspect that also stood out for the students was meeting the volunteers and hearing about their backgrounds and journeys to working with Deloitte. The impact on the students is significant, and positive, as I hope it is for those in the Deloitte offices." "My meetings with my mentor were a big eye-opener for me. I learned a lot of skills such as how to express yourself in the interview scenario, how to polish up my CV, how to present myself in an interview in terms of how I dressed, and to assert myself in terms of looking and sounding professional. The programme definitely helped me get a sales assistant job last summer - I don't think I would have had the confidence or the skill to assert myself to an interviewer if I hadn't done this course. I feel the programme really gave me a good foundation to build on in terms of managing job interviews. My mentor also gave me great tips on how to manage myself in the workplace and assert myself in terms of colleagues. It was very useful."
Never too old to learn
At Deloitte Ireland, we're always asking ourselves what we can do better and how we can make an impact on our clients, people and society. Our volunteers always want to go above and beyond, to make a real difference. One such volunteer, Niall Kelly, a senior consultant within the Consulting team, was already very passionate about making a difference in the local community and wanted to know how he could bring that difference to Deloitte. Niall's keen eye observed that there was a gap in the type of volunteering programmes on offer in Deloitte Ireland, and that there were no initiatives in place with a focus on elderly people, whom he thinks are often overlooked, especially when it comes to advances in technology. He wanted to close that gap, and make a difference in the lives of the elderly. Niall took (age) action! He realised that today's technology, something that Deloitte people are very comfortable and acquainted with, can often prove an obstacle to older people, causing them to become excluded from daily habits and tasks that come naturally to others. In 2016, Niall suggested to the Corporate Responsibility team that Deloitte should partner with the charity Age Action, and match our experienced employees with older learners to teach them basic computer and technology skills. Building confidence to embrace technology With the support of the CR team, he implemented the first six-week programme, consisting of weekly one-on-one lunchtime sessions between our volunteers and the learners. From day one, the informal sessions provided a comfortable environment to allow the learners, who often lack confidence when it comes to using computers, tablets and mobile phones, to embrace technology at their own pace. In FY19, we completed our seventeenth block of six-week classes since its introduction in 2016. The Deloitte Age Action programme is now fully embedded in Ireland's WorldClass initiative, our global ambition to have an impact on 50 million futures by 2030 and provide access to opportunity and education. What's more, it is currently the most popular volunteering programme at Deloitte Ireland. Over 160 elderly learners have come through our doors and an equal amount of Deloitte volunteers have been involved in the programme to date. Feedback from participants and volunteers alike has told us that the programme benefits both the learner and the volunteer. Teaching older people new skills positively enriches their lives and provides them with increased confidence when using technology. Day-to-day activities like keeping in contact with friends and family, banking or online shopping are now that little bit easier for the participants. Without this programme they might never have had the opportunity to improve their computer literacy skills in a supportive environment. The experience gives our volunteers the opportunity to have meaningful conversations with an older generation. While they are making a tangible impact on people in our community, the life stories and experiences that the participants share throughout the sessions are hugely interesting and informative for our volunteers. In addition, the sessions are an important reminder that we really are never too old to learn. Niall's actions have definitely made a difference, and in making that difference, he has encouraged many more of us to get on board and do so too! Feedback from volunteers: "My Tuesday sessions with Age Action were definitely the highlight of my week for the duration of the course. I could see immediately how much this programme was benefitting my student. His confidence with computers grew each time we met and that had an impact on so many other things in his life. The new skills were really making so many tasks easier for him and he was so appreciative of it! I too learnt so much from him - how to be patient, how to be a better listener and how to be company to an older person. I would never have thought that we would share similar interests and have so much to talk about. It was a very enjoyable and hugely positive experience." Feedback from a learner: "Dear members of Deloitte, From top echelon, to most humble, I wish to say how grateful I am for the accommodation and assistance you afforded Age Action and its "Golden Oldies" to enable us to upgrade our technological skills. In my case, it was the iPhone, the 'i' representing 'idiot'. I will be ever grateful to Jessie, the girl who helped me…"
Photography project reduces feelings of isolation
They say a picture is worth more than a thousand words. For colleagues at Deloitte Ireland who are originally from other countries, photographs can help tell powerful stories about what it feels like to be far from home. Our Dublin office wanted to improve the sense of belonging of colleagues from outside of Ireland. The team adopted an innovative research approach called Photovoice, which focuses on photography for social change. Using images, captions and group discussion, the initiative helped unlock personal perspectives around cultural diversity. "We wanted to explore their thoughts, feelings and experiences of diversity, respect and inclusion," explained Torunn Dahl, a senior manager in HR. "We also wanted to find out what challenges they faced in a way that surveys and focus groups would not have achieved." Breaking down barriers In April 2018, Torunn set up the photo project with help from sociologist and researcher Dr Maria Quinlan. She ran three workshops with 11 volunteers from nine countries including Moldova, Zimbabwe, India, Brazil and Malaysia. Each volunteer was given a camera for four weeks and was asked to take photos to illustrate a range of themes that they collectively agreed on, around the opportunities and adversity they faced. Some of those themes related to how they were adapting and settling in, and how they were dealing with language barriers and the need to prove themselves. The images, shared at an art exhibition at our Dublin office three months later, brought the volunteers' experiences to life. "The stories were so powerful; you were left with a real sense of the individual," commented Torunn. She believes the initiative and exhibition have helped them think about ways to attract and retain global talent. It has also strengthened the dialogue around inclusion among leaders. "We've seen a change in their desire to increase awareness, drive different conversations within their teams and look for support in building inclusion," she added. Its success also paved the way for a new Photovoice project, which focused on the experiences of working parents and was launched on International Women's Day 2019. "At Deloitte Ireland, we employ people from over 60 different countries. This wealth of diverse backgrounds, perspectives and knowledge are hugely important in serving our clients. But even more critical is that everyone in our business understands the experiences of our international colleagues, and that not everybody’s time at work, or hopes and challenges are the same. This is an important element in ensuring we create a sense of belonging for all of our colleagues within our business. The Photovoice project really highlighted this." Picture perfect "I decided to take this picture of the moon because it does definitely remind me of home. Actually, I don't know if it specifically reminds me of home – I've lived in about 15 different countries already, so I don't know where home is, but I spent most of my time in the Middle East. In the Islamic faith the moon is an important symbol, so this reminded me of home a lot." "Deloitte is like a platform for people from different cultures to meet up because ever since I've worked at Deloitte I've met so many people from so many different nationalities. It's really interesting because if it wasn't for Deloitte I wouldn't have known so many different cultures, met so many people. I believe it's like a bridge between people, different kinds of people, and we should take advantage of that." "This picture represents Deloitte and Ireland in my view. Just like the cranes are constantly working on building something, I feel that Ireland gave me the opportunity to construct my career and build a future for myself. To me, Deloitte is an opportunity to develop the person I am, to advance into something better every day. It is a place where I constantly improve, because there's always something new to learn here. In some way, Deloitte is the crane that helps me to reach new heights." "This is one of the walls in the office in Whitaker Court – it's the back wall, loads of doors. I guess what I've tried to say with this picture is that I was nervous coming to Ireland, not sure what to expect and what kind of walls I might come across trying to get a job or [if I could] be myself and not encounter any of that... and it's actually quite a positive message in that, at Deloitte, I've felt that the door is always open for me, and that I can always walk straight through and do what I'm here to do and what I want to do."
Revenue deploys robots to save precious time
In 2016, Ireland's Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan T.D., announced the modernisation of how tax was to be collected from employees in Ireland. The Pay As You Earn (PAYE) Modernisation programme was the most significant reform of PAYE since its inception in the 1960s, and is one of the biggest business developments Revenue in Ireland has ever undertaken. We've worked as a strategic information technology partner of Revenue since August 2010, supporting them in collecting taxes from individuals and businesses, which fund and support vital public services. From hours to minutes We supported the Revenue information and communication technologies team across all streams of the project. This included areas like software development and testing, system architecture and design, change and programme management, and robotic process automation (RPA). Revenue undertook a range of initiatives to make sure that both Revenue and employer records were accurate and up to date. This ensures that PAYE taxpayers pay the right amount of tax at the right time, a key objective of PAYE Modernisation. We identified over 20,000 PAYE taxpayer records that needed to be updated following a change in marital status. The normal update process can take as many as 200 steps, depending on the circumstances and complexity of a case. We piloted RPA technology to automate the process, reducing the execution time for each case from hours to minutes. Time better spent The pilot not only improved transaction processing, it allowed Revenue to better allocate resources. As John Barron, CIO Revenue, noted, "The RPA pilot has proven the potential of the technology and provides significant benefits." "It delivers a more accurate, consistent and efficient service to our PAYE taxpayers. In addition, it frees our skilled staff to focus on higher-value work and more strategic projects. This is hugely positive from our perspective and allows us to better deploy our staff and optimise our performance, productivity and output." What's more, the RPA solution has developed a library of reusable components that can be reconfigured and deployed to work on other areas of the tax system. "In addition to saving time, one of the most exciting elements of this pilot is the potential to re-use technology across other areas of the tax system," said Ruairí Allen, Consulting Partner at Deloitte Ireland. "One of the major advantages of implementing robotics solutions is freeing up time, to ensure that people's expertise is used in the best way possible." This overall programme represents a huge step forward for Revenue, maintaining its position as one of the most progressive tax authorities in the world.
Supporting indigenous businesses with the Best Managed Companies Awards Programme
The Deloitte Best Managed Companies Awards Programme, in association with Bank of Ireland, recognises excellence in Irish and Northern Irish owned and managed companies and is a symbol of organisational success and achievement. Since 2008, the awards programme has been celebrating companies across the island of Ireland that demonstrate superior business performance. In 2019, 12 new winning companies joined a network of 136 companies that were awarded the status of Best Managed. As a result, the Best Managed Companies network in Ireland now has total revenues of almost €11 billion, export sales of almost €3 billion and total employment of approximately 44,000 people. Beyond recognition The Best Managed Companies Awards Programme provides winning companies with the recognition and profile that they deserve, not least through the media partner of the programme, the Sunday Business Post. But the programme offers so much more than recognition alone. The independent judging process that companies go through considers a holistic view of organisations that includes strategy, capability, commitment and financial performance in relation to their peers and industry sectors. In fact, we consistently receive feedback from all companies, not just winners, that this coaching process allows them to really review, evaluate and benchmark their business strategies. "The mentoring and coaching we received has encouraged us to think more strategically, and this will be invaluable as we map out a plan for the next phase of our development." The programme provides abundant networking opportunities throughout the year through a series of events that focus on the issues that are pertinent to the current marketplace - be it changing talent requirements or leadership development. The annual symposium, run in conjunction with the Irish Management Institute, provides an excellent opportunity for professional development for attendees who hear from internationally renowned experts on topics such as strategy, innovation and leadership, and team development. And lest we forget the importance of celebrating the achievements of the winning companies, the awards programme culminates with a glittering black tie awards ceremony. What's more, this year, the awards ceremony received an award itself! It was deemed the Best Awards Ceremony at the 2019 Event Industry Awards - so safe to say it is a great night of celebration! The Best Managed Companies Awards Programme is really important to Deloitte. Successful Irish businesses that can grow, scale, and provide employment are critical to the economy, and the society in which live. Our view at Deloitte is that all of us with a vested interest in building successful Irish businesses have a role to play in supporting these businesses. We are proud to support the companies which are responsible for the livelihoods of 44,000 people on the island of Ireland. The impact they make is truly on another level. "As I leafed through the Sunday Business Post one morning in 2013, I came across a supplement that grabbed my attention. By the time I'd finished it, I was left with one overriding thought; "We need to be in that club." "The spread of companies, right around the country and across a number of industries, underlines the importance of Irish and Northern Irish companies to the economy and in the midst of economic uncertainty, technology disruption, an open competitive market and full employment, the continued strong performance of these businesses is admirable. In the current environment, it is important for this contribution to be recognised, supported and showcased."
Tackling online harassment with Zipit: our pioneering social media chatbot
In April 2018, we asked the attendees of a Deloitte GovLab training course in Amsterdam to solve a complex problem - helping people feel safe in the modern world. Seventeen-year-old Anna said she feels safer outside than online. Enter Zipit: our pioneering social media chatbot. Taking to the streets Julieanne Fleming from Technology Consulting in Ireland, Victoria Mulreany from Financial Advisory in the UK and Harm Erbé from Deloitte Digital in the Netherlands teamed up to find out more about the safety issues affecting us today. They spoke to people they knew before taking to the streets of Rotterdam to ask further questions. Their findings, including Anna's comment, were shocking and made clear that online sexual harrassment can be a very real problem for those leading increasingly connected lives. Of the young women questioned in Rotterdam, 76 per cent said they'd experienced online sexual harassment, while 70 per cent had recently received unsolicited explicit images. Even more worryingly, 40 per cent of those interviewed had felt their physical safety to be under threat while online, while six in ten felt there were no consequences for online sexual harassment. The team's response was to develop Zipit. Appropriate responses to online harassment Its aim is to improve online safety by giving users advice on appropriate responses to online harrassment, from keeping personal profiles secure to escalating issues to the police if the situation requires it. Victoria said, "We have a massive opportunity to educate people. When you go out, people talk about having your keys and your phone in your hand, staying in busy areas... online, Zipit is your safety toolkit. The ultimate goal is to have an impact on the toxic behaviours happening in the online world." User testing for the bot is proving extremely positive and the team continues to develop Zipit as an interactive add-on for Facebook Messenger. Victoria and the team have also spoken to children's and mental health charities to make sure the bot provides the right advice and are working closely with the police to develop it. Originating from our GovLab initiative, which encourages public sector innovation by bringing a range of experience to solve long-standing problems, Zipit could have multiple benefits for society. For young people, improving online safety is vital. For law enforcement, effective triage and reporting routes can free up valuable time. And for social media platforms, it promises a better user experience. "We've already made a significant impact in opening up the conversation around online harassment."
Time Out: take time to unplug
More and more we're hearing that by unplugging from work regularly, you can improve productivity, focus and mental health, and simultaneously lower stress levels. Since introducing the Unplugged programme in 2016, we have been committed to helping our people take time to focus on things that are important to them. Finding a healthy work-life balance can be a challenge, and the agile working policies and practices aim to lend a hand, for example by introducing flexible working, compressed working weeks in summer and additional leave purchase. The Time Out policy was launched in November 2018 to help our colleagues sustain a healthy work-life balance, which can be challenging without support from the business. It's a new policy in the Deloitte Unplugged programme that allows people who have a permanent contract and at least twelve months' service to apply for a block of four weeks of unpaid leave each year. We know our people lead busy lives and might have personal projects or passions they would love to dedicate more time and energy to. Time Out can be used for a myriad of reasons, like catching up with family, travelling, chilling at home or learning a new skill. People don't need to specify why the leave is being requested. The only requirement is that they sit down with their manager and agree how their work will be covered while they're away. We are delighted that we have already had 30 people request Time Out since the launch at the end of 2018. These early adopters range from graduates to directors and come from different sectors across the business. Dane Hickey, senior manager in Audit & Assurance, reached out to us with his Time Out experience: "This Summer I took the plunge and decided to take a month off from work, and embark on an intensive yoga teacher training (called a "YTT 200 HR Training"). I have been practicing yoga for many years, and have wanted to be trained as a teacher since I was a teenager, when I first discovered yoga. The experience has been so rewarding on so many levels… Taking this time to achieve a life goal has been one of the best investments in myself, and means that I am now able to teach yoga to others and share the benefits and joy that a practice brings. Not only this, but it has opened up other avenues and experiences in my life, and brought me back to my passions and what motivates me. I'm very grateful to have had this time, and will definitely avail of the policy again." Donal Óg McCarthy, director in Consulting, also availed of Time Out and shared the positive outcome of his "longest summer holiday in years" with the department: "I am just back from my longest summer holiday in years and I must say it was wonderful. I spent loads of time outdoors and with my family enjoying the fantastic summer weather. Over the years as both my personal and professional life have gotten busier taking time to relax and reflect has become so important. Over my holidays I got to do things that were on my bucket list for a while like sail in the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta, go kayaking in Dublin Bay and spend extra time with my two small boys at home just doing fun activities." We hope that Time Out will continue to provide a way for people to improve their work-life balance for years to come!