Gender Balance Strategy

Refreshing our gender balance strategy to build a balanced leadership pipeline for the future

We have committed to achieving 30% female partners by 2023 and 35% female partners by 2025, up from 25% in FY21. In order to achieve these targets, we launched our refreshed gender balance strategy in March 2021, followed by a series of events to engage all our leaders with the importance of this strategy.

Fostering inclusion is one of Deloitte’s core values and we have a well-established inclusion strategy. Gender balance is one of the key pillars of this strategy and our ambition is to achieve gender balance at all levels of the firm. Given that our graduate intake is approximately 50:50 male:female, we know we have to address the disparity that arises as our people progress through their careers. We have made significant progress in working towards this ambition over the past decade, with our proportion of female partners rising from 13% in 2011 to 27% by June 2021.

We have more to do in order to support our female employees to reach their full potential and achieve our gender balance target. On 8 March, International Women’s Day, we launched our refreshed gender balance strategy. We focused on specific, measurable actions to support us in accelerating our move towards meeting our target:

1. Sponsorship programme: In general, we know that sponsorship is one of the most effective programmatic approaches to supporting women to accelerate their careers. Whereas mentoring involves speaking to people about their careers and sharing experiences, sponsorship is more active in terms of advocating for someone, introducing them to key contacts and putting them forward for development opportunities. Research has shown that men are more likely to be sponsored through natural networks they have, so we announced the introduction of a sponsorship programme for some of our senior women.

2. Supporting parents: We know from our own research, and externally that juggling a young family with a career is a critical crunch point for parents, and a time when people might start to rethink their priorities. This has been exacerbated by the global pandemic. We have therefore made a number of changes to our parenting policies, the most significant one being that we increased the amount of paid leave for both new mums and new dads, who received an additional 5 weeks of paid leave in the first year of their child’s birth. We continue to offer our highly acclaimed workshops for parents returning from extended leave.

3. Measurement and accountability: what gets measured gets done! We introduced a scorecard that each of our business units will be measured against in terms of key metrics that underpin progress such as attrition, promotions, hiring and leadership roles.

4. Gender balanced talent programmes: to accelerate the progress of high potential female talent we are introducing a gender balance stipulation to our talent programmes.

5. Inclusion passport: in 2021 we piloted an Inclusion passport that will be launched firmwide in FY22. This will enable people to negotiate supports across a wide range of areas (disability, faith, volunteering, caring) and from a gender balance perspective we expect this to normalise conversations around agile working and flexibility.

6. Strengthening our employee network: we have refreshed our gender balance network with a new steering group and executive sponsor to support us in building on the work done by our previous Women’s Initiative Network committee, and in driving engagement forwards across the business.

7. Building the talent pipeline: we are implementing actions to support us in building a strong talent pipeline, particularly in STEM areas, through our partnership with the iWish foundation and by setting up a Transition Year programme dedicated to STEM, as well as reserving 20% of our TY programme places to people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Niamh Geraghty, People and Purpose Partner, Deloitte Ireland, pointed to Deloitte’s Global survey in late 2020, which showed that working women have been disproportionately affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, with nearly 82% of women surveyed saying their lives have been negatively disrupted, and nearly 70% of women who have experienced these disruptions expressing concern about their ability to progress in their careers. “With these stark statistics, it’s more important than ever that businesses work to address the obstacles to women’s career advancement,” she said. “We are excited that the measures included in our refreshed gender balance strategy will help us achieve our targets and ensure that we support women to reach their full potential in their careers.”

Torunn Dahl