Perspectives

Episode #36: How do you start a movement?

The Green Room by Deloitte podcast

Many of us are trying to change something. No matter who we are or where we live, we want to make our corner of the world a little bit better for those around us.

Movements are what made the world what it is today. You’ll have studied the most influential ones at school, like the African American civil rights movement, the fight for universal suffrage or environmentalism.

Around the world, people continue to inspire us by standing up for what they believe in. Climate school strikes. LGBTQ+ rights. #MeToo. And Black Lives Matter, to name a few.

These movements are all vital if we’re to create a more equal society on a thriving planet. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. In fact, changing something is really hard. What we see as an overnight success is usually years in the making.

The bad news you know already: we’ve got many things competing for our attention (looking at you, social media). The good news? Lots of people want to change the world for the better. Better still: they’d love feel part of the change you’re making too.

There’s just one condition: make it worth their time. Oh, and tell your story well.

To unpick what makes a movement successful, let’s start at the very beginning.

So, you want to make the world a better place. How do you identify what it is exactly you want to change? How do you gather support in the early stages? Do you have a strong story that connects with people?

Once you’re off, how do you bring people with you? How do you share the journey as you gather momentum? And importantly, how do you keep going when things get tough? Why do many people give up no matter how admirable their cause?

For this episode, we’re joined by two fantastic guests who are driving inspiring change: Kalvinder Dhillon, who helped start the Change the Race Ratio initiative, and Peter Holbrook, CEO of Social Enterprise UK.

Tune in to find out...

  • About the experiences that lit a fire in Peter’s belly
  • How Kalvinder learnt the art of patience in making change
  • Why George is feeling more positive about his next conga
  • How we can all make a difference in our lives every day

Kalvinder Dhillon

Kalvinder is a Vice chair and tax partner at Deloitte UK. Her experience over the past 25 years has focused on Consumer Business and Technology, Media and Telecoms (TMT) clients. Kalvinder is a member of the Board of Deloitte North South Europe (NSE), Vice Chair of the UK Firm and Chair of Deloitte NSE's People and Purpose Committee. She also serves on the Deloitte UK Oversight Board.

Previously Kalvinder worked on secondment in the US for seven years, leading the Global Employers Services Practice on the West Coast as well as time in New York. Her present clients include several FTSE 100 consumer and TMT clients.

Kalvinder also plays a significant role for the firm in supporting our societal vision as:

  • Lead partner supporting the CBI campaign for Change the Race Ratio - a campaign encouraging FTSE 350 companies to be transparent about their targets and commitments for Ethnic leadership at the Executive and Board level. Kalvinder was responsible for Deloitte being one of the first founders.
  • Lead partner supporting our partnership with Open for Business ensuring we continue to drive global parity and thought leadership around LGBTQ+ participation.
  • Deloitte partner on the board of City Mental Health Alliance ensuring we continue to focus on positive mental wellbeing.

Peter Holbrook CBE

Peter Holbrook became CEO of Social Enterprise UK (SEUK) in January 2010. SEUK is the national trade body for social enterprise and represents a wide range of social enterprises, regional and national support networks and other related organisations. SEUK works to promote social enterprise as a model for changing both business and society.

Peter has established, developed and supported hundreds of diverse social enterprises over his career. He has advised government taskforces in the UK and overseas and chaired the Social Enterprise World Forum, the global network of social businesses until 2015. He was appointed a CBE in 2015.

Attendees
George Parrett, Interviewer
Ethan Worth, Interviewer
Peter Holbrook, Interviewee
Kalvinder Dhillon, Interviewee

George Parrett
Hello and welcome to The Green Room by Deloitte. This is the podcast which asks the tricky questions about the world around us. I’m George and today we’re asking: how do you start a movement? Hello and thank you so much for downloading and listening to this episode of The Green Room by Deloitte. You can find all of our previous episodes on our website, which is deloitte.co.uk/greenroompodcasts or wherever you get your podcasts from.

And today, we’re talking about how to start a movement. And I’m joined by someone who I’m always happy to follow in her footsteps, Lizzie Elston. How are you, Lizzie?

Lizzie Elston
Come with me, George. I’m very well. I’m very well. I’m excited on two counts, actually: first of all, it’s my first episode of series 5. We’re into series 5. Absolutely brilliant. So this is obviously going to be a fantastic episode and we’ve got more to come. That’s on one count and the other count, George – I have to say, I’m feeling a little bit starstruck, actually, because I’ve always been in awe of people who can take an idea and really drive it, particularly when there’s something really purposeful and meaningful about it – and we’ll introduce in a moment, obviously, our two incredible guests, but I’m particularly excited to be joined by them today. Can’t wait to start chatting.

George Parrett
I’m really excited to get stuck into this week’s episode which is all about movements. And movements are really what’s made the world a better place over the course of history. We might remember from our school days learning about the civil rights movement in America, universal suffrage or, more recently, tackling climate change. I think it’s really important just to understand how we came about starting a movement, how you drive it forward and how you build that momentum in order to create a more equal society. I think there’s certainly a limit to how much we can talk about it, Lizzie, but who have we got in the studio today to chat us through and share their expertise?

Lizzie Elston
First of all, we are joined by Peter Holbrook CBE. Peter is the CEO of Social Enterprise UK, the national trade body which works to promote social enterprise as a model for changing both business and society. Peter has established, developed and supported hundreds of social enterprises over his career as well as advised government taskforces in the UK and overseas. Welcome, Peter.

Peter Holbrook
Hello, it’s lovely to be with you today.

Lizzie Elston
I wish people could see Peter’s dynamic ‘hello’ just then. Fantastic. Great to have you here. And also delighted to welcome Kalvinder Dhillon. Kalvinder is a vice-chair and tax partner at Deloitte. She has worked for consumer businesses and TMT clients for 25 years, both in the US and the UK. Kalvinder also plays a significant role in supporting some of our key societal initiatives, such as the Change the Race Ratio campaign or our Open for Business partnership. Welcome, Kalvinder.

Kalvinder Dhillon
Hey, Lizzie, how are you?

Lizzie Elston
Very well.

Kalvinder Dhillon
I’m just starstruck by having Peter here, actually.

Lizzie Elston
We’re all starstruck. Okay. We always start our podcasts with an ice-breaker and this is no exception. And it’s just popped into my chat here and the question is this: what did you want to be when you were little? What a great question. Who would like to kick off?

George Parrett
I don’t think ‘podcast host’ is allowed or probably… I’ll dive in there. I always want – I was always fairly nuts about dinosaurs so a palaeontologist, I think. I might still grow up to be a palaeontologist. Who knows? That’s my main ambition – or certainly was when I was five.

Lizzie Elston
There’s still time. Peter, what about you?

Peter Holbrook
Well, it doesn’t sound very cool but I very clearly remember telling everybody that I wanted to be Prime Minister, and I think the closer I’ve got to politics, the less I wanted to achieve that ambition. It was certainly a very, very clear – and the earliest – professional ambition that I can remember having.

Lizzie Elston
Well, if you do ever run, you’ll have my vote.

Peter Holbrook
You haven’t heard what I’ve got to say yet.

Lizzie Elston
That’s true. Yeah, maybe we’ll wait until after the podcast. What about you, Kalvinder?

Kalvinder Dhillon
Well, I definitely can’t say it was a Deloitte partner so I’m sorry to disappoint everybody who’s listening. It was a neurologist. I was always fascinated by the brain and I still am.

Lizzie Elston
Amazing. It’s amazing. Think about Sliding Doors, what could have been.

George Parrett
How about you, Lizzie?

Lizzie Elston
Well, it was a couple of things. I wanted to be pianist and I wanted to be a nurse. And so I was going to be a piano-playing nurse. That was until the desire to become a Blue Peter presenter kicked in, so none of those have quite been realised but this is a close fourth, I guess.

George Parrett
There’s still time. There’s still time to combine all of those skills, yeah.

Lizzie Elston
Indeed, yeah.

George Parrett
Right, I think, let’s get stuck into this week’s big question which is: how do you start a movement? And I think, Peter and Kalvinder, we’ve had a bit of a bio from you two, but I think it would be great to hear it from your own mouths, if that’s alright? Peter, perhaps, could you give us a bit of an overview of your history to date, so that we could understand why you care about what you do?

Peter Holbrook
Yeah, I guess. I mean, first of all, I’m not really sure that I’ve ever started a true movement. I still hold that ambition dear. I’ve been involved in, I think, social justice and politics and business all my life, really. I was brought up in a family that was actively involved in and around its community. I was born in Mitcham in south London, which is a fairly poor community and still is to this day.

And there was – there is injustice all around us, right? That happens in your neighbourhood, on your street, particularly as a kid growing up in school. And I just became, I think, motivated, and probably my parents enabled that motivation to take route, really, and to believe that I could change things – even small things – when I was growing up. And I think that’s what led me to want to become Prime Minister. The reality of your teenage years and adolescent years kicks in and you have other priorities over that period, for sure.

Then when I think I emerged, and I emerged in a fairly conventional job, working in retail when I was 15 and 16, and that – and then I got offered management training by Marks and Sparks and I did a bit of that. At some point, I realised, actually, that there was, still, that flame alive in me around social change, around social justice. And that flame took hold and it meant that I, sadly, left Marks and Spencer behind to pursue bigger issues that I wanted to contribute towards.

And, at the time – this was in the 1980s – my first real ambition was to get stuck in, actually, to climate change and environmental injustice. And one thing led to another and from Greenpeace I went into Oxfam – always, actually, taking the management training I’d got at Marks and Spencer with me because, back in the day, it was world-class – I’m sure it still is – but I had practical experience of it being world-class. And I was able to take those principles of management and business into social change. And at some point – after doing a bit in the environment and overseas development, I discovered social enterprise and thought, ‘All my dreams have come true. This really does merge my thirst for social justice but also my passion and interest for business.’

George Parrett
That’s really interesting. We’re definitely going to explore and unpick some of that journey, I think, Peter. Before we do that, Kalvinder, could you, perhaps, talk a bit about your career to date and how you came to follow the causes that you do?

Kalvinder Dhillon
Sure. I mean, most of my career’s – actually, all of it’s pretty much been at Deloitte but I really always had a very activist mindset, and then trying to have an activist mindset but in the context of what we do and bringing that together, so always on the picket lines. University, quite rebellious. Some would argue still quite rebellious at Deloitte for different reasons.

As I think I grew in my career, I always felt that we have a bigger place in society and a lot to contribute, and that we should do so in a focused and challenged way. And particularly over the last few years, as I became more senior in the organisation, I felt this real need in myself, as well as for us as a brand, to play a bigger role in society, given the inequity that exists in the world, and in the communities that we function. Even during the Covid crisis, helped with aged individuals, pulled together a team of people to look at social care for our elderly that had been forgotten. I think those things are important to me, and I guess I’m very fortunate to be in an organisation that allows me to do some of those things, but also, at this point in my career, how do we use the platform that we have to do greater good in society I think is a key focus for me.

Lizzie Elston
Just hearing you talk about your backgrounds, was there a specific point for either of you where you really became aware of the change you wanted to make in the world? Anything in particular that triggered your desires?

Peter Holbrook
Well, if I could go first because, I suppose, what really struck me, actually, as a young man growing up in the 1980s, was my sexuality: I’m a gay man. And it was a very, very hostile environment in which I had to come to terms with that. And I think recognising that, as a consequence of my sexuality, I couldn’t probably pursue a career in politics and become Prime Minister, actually – that was my thinking at the time. It was a time of Section 28. It couldn’t be taught in schools. There was a societal intolerance to the LGBT community at that time. It was my first experience of real injustice, actually. And that manifested itself in episodes of bullying at school and – you can imagine, right? And so it gave me direct and personal experience – and I’m sure the same is true of Kalvinder – direct and personal experience of social injustice can light a fire in your belly, actually. And I wasn’t ready to come out at that time but what it did was expose me to other forms of injustice. And I can remember, you know, not ready to come out but deciding to surround myself with the Anti-Apartheid Movement which was also a big issue at that time, and other social causes, not just social issues but also environmental issues.

And I became an activist – a bit like Kalvinder, if there was a picket line, I’d be there. I’m sure we may have even met each other before, Kalvinder.

Kalvinder Dhillon
Absolutely. I think very similar to Peter. I think who we become is really defined by our growing up. A bit like Peter, grew up in Coventry in a period where the manufacturing industry was under constant change. Third-generation immigrant family. A bit like Peter, as a gay Indian woman in a society where you’re constantly challenged on many fronts, it becomes a part of your life and I think you then have a responsibility to make it better for those that come after you. I think I just came out on the podcast, by the way, but that’s okay. Thanks Peter; thanks Peter.

Peter Holbrook
Congratulations, Kalvinder. I’m glad to have been here to witness it.

Kalvinder Dhillon
Thanks, Peter. I felt the pressure right there. I think all those experiences define who we are and how we want to change the world because it does need changing, and we have a responsibility to change it and make it better for those who come after us.

George Parrett
I suppose it’s – taking that first step is probably sticking that head above the parapet, as it were, when it’s probably quite a daunting prospect. Can you talk a bit about that and how you felt at the time and whether you thought, ‘Actually, this is not going to work,’ or did you just feel that, actually, you had a responsibility to take a leading foot in some of these movements?

Kalvinder Dhillon
I don’t think I was ever daunted by it because I think change is about being brave enough. I think the question of being daunted when there is so much injustice and inequity in the world didn’t ever strike me. I was never afraid to challenge, rebel or look at the world differently. I mean, I think in some ways maybe my experiences made it more natural for me to do so. It was never anything that daunted me.

I think the daunting bit is how you bring others into the fold to create a much bigger vision than the one that you have yourself. And how do you get buy-in to the changes that you want to make because, while one individual can have an idea, it definitely takes an army of people to execute it. I think that’s a skill that you learn with experience from being rebellious at the start to being more consensus-driven and patient because, I think, when you want to change the world’s injustices, you have a level of impatience that doesn’t sometimes quite work.

I don’t know what it was like for you, Peter, but I was definitely very impatient in my younger age about the things that I wanted to change.

Peter Holbrook
I still am impatient, to be honest. I suppose, I was confused by the injustice that I saw around me because it didn’t make sense. And I think that interest in further understanding other injustices took me deep into a world of socioeconomic politics. It took me into issues of environment, of business, and this is why I think business is so important in this agenda because we often talk about society and politics, but we don’t really talk about the economy as a driver, perhaps, for some of the injustices that are really, really routed within society. And I think it’s the interdependence of all those kinds of issues that has really fascinated me and why I still consider business to have such a powerful role in resolving these injustices and challenges and why we need a social movement of business responsibility.

Lizzie Elston
Peter, on that note of the importance of business being involved – I guess, there’s so much power that resides now in – I mean, always has done, but probably more so now – on the topic of social enterprise, of course, which you’re so heavily involved in – what is the business rationale, if you like, around social enterprise? It’s not just a nice thing to do, is it? This is genuinely a new way of businesses working and creating value. How would you define a social enterprise versus a private business, for example?

Peter Holbrook
Look, I’ve worked in private businesses, and both of those private businesses that I kind of earned my stripes with were both family-owned and they were very much values-driven businesses. One was Marks and Spencer, when it was a family-owned business, and the other was Body Shop International, when it was run by Anita and Gordon. And they both had a very moral framework around them. They were both very, very different businesses but they both absolutely were driven by the families’ own personal value set.

And I was in both of those companies when they both IPO’d and became PLCs and I have to say it wasn’t a positive experience on the whole for those working within either of those businesses. One was bought by L’Oréal, which the Body Shop had been the antithesis of for all of its start-up years. And Marks and Spencer went onto the stock market and you started to see this erosion of culture and values. And I am still friends with many, many people within that business. And Lord Stone of Blackheath, he was a former managing director of M&S who I worked with back at that time and we’re still very good friends. We reflect on the change that happened.

And, I suppose what I started to see is how [inaudible] or profit maximisation – without getting too into the whole history of economics, but the Milton Friedman doctrine, where shareholder primacy is really the only rule of the game, just wasn’t good enough for how it actually started to fail people that had worked when I was at M&S that were proudly wearing their 30 and 40-years’ service badges. They had a podiatrist upstairs to look after their bunions and cut their toenails. They had a hairdresser on site. Well, it all went, and understandably so; I mean, you think about that now and it’s ridiculous.

That relationship between companies and their employees, as real stakeholders, engaged and involved in the business, I can see dissipate and that’s why I feared, really, for the future of business and why I felt, given the environmental pressures that were emerging, given some of the social causes that were emerging – and I’ve already mentioned apartheid, but certainly civil rights in America hadn’t finished at that point. We needed a new relationship between business and society and business and the environment.

And I decided, quite naively, that I would set up my own business that would work to my own values and I started to do that before I even knew the term ‘social enterprise’. And I was determined to treat all my stakeholders with equal value. And not just my employees and my investors but my employees, my investors, the community around me, the environment upon which my business was built. Managers – I mean, there are a variety of different stakeholders and I think, genuinely, what we need to do is shift the system so the best businesses are recognised as those that create the greatest value for all, rather than the greatest value for the few.

Kalvinder Dhillon
It’s really interesting. Peter, earlier made a really important point which I think we should hold onto, even at Deloitte: the art of being inquisitive, right, and inquisitive beyond the boundaries of what we do just in our day jobs but in wider society. I think that’s really important, and for our people to feel encouraged that their inquisitiveness and the things they raise won’t get missed. And, in that sense, as odd as it might sound, I think partnerships are like a big family, albeit a very big family so we can set the tone for the values that we want in a partnership in a very different way to, perhaps, a corporation.

And I think that’s encouraging for the next generation that this is something that they can take forward. And I take great pride that our young people are actually sharing their views and opinions, whether that’s on climate change or ethnicity or parity of any kind. And I think we need more people to be inquisitive in the world, because I think if we lose that trait, then we will lose the ability to influence in a much bigger way.

Announcement
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George Parrett
Kalvinder, you made a really good point about the importance of having followers when you do start a movement or do try and change the world, and that is – I’m just thinking back to some of the weddings I went to over the summer and I was trying to get a conga going, and it doesn’t work if no one’s willing to join you. I think I was about 50% success rate there but when the Proclaimers’ ‘500 miles’ starts playing, that’s all you have to do, really, isn’t it? That’s trivialising a little bit there but I think, yeah, how do you go about finding your fans and building that follower base? That’s crucial, isn’t it? Anyone can have a cause which they want to drive home and an injustice they want to challenge, but if no one else is listening or if no one else is connected by that, then it’s not going to achieve anything. How do you find those fans?

Kalvinder Dhillon
I think it’s partly the point of inquisitiveness but also partly it’s the point of picking the things that you really believe in. I think when you really believe in something – so, for me, I really believed in Change the Race Ratio. The constant focus on ethnicity has been at the boardroom and that’s great that there has been so much focus on boardroom representation, but you actually don’t get the candidates for the boardroom unless you start at the exec and the exec minus one. I felt passionate about the issue. In articulating it to Richard, hopefully, he’ll agree.

That passion was also driven by data but then also, given that CBI was going to be involved, I knew there were people like Anna Marks who sat on the CBI board, so it’s actually looking wider and saying, ‘Who do you need to engage to be able to actually influence something?’ And I think that becomes important but it also becomes easier if you yourself feel very passionate about something, because then you’ll articulate all the right things and you’ll do all the right research and you’ll be able to involve the right people. I think that becomes quite important so I think the tie-up with the CBI, with Lord Bilimoria being there as the first ever ethnic president – the timing was just right. He was willing, we were willing and it just moved from that.

Lizzie Elston
And, Kalvinder, having looked at the latest Parker review report into ethnic diversity in UK boards, correct me if I’m wrong, but it says that 37% of FTSE 100 and 69% of FTSE 250 still don’t have any ethnic minority representation on their boards.

Kalvinder Dhillon
Yes.

Lizzie Elston
So clearly this is very much there to change.

Kalvinder Dhillon
Yeah. Long way to go but on a good journey, because I think you can’t look at the ultimate result; you have to look at the supply chain. And the years before and how we prepare people for those roles – we do some fantastic work with [BAME on?] boards. I sit on our board. I clearly remember the moment when I walked into that room, even though I’d been with Deloitte all my life. There’s a sudden moment when there’s a roomful of people and you’re like, ‘Wow. I do look different.’ I think we need to acknowledge that people feel differently.

I think all those experiences drove me to this point of really wanting to do something. And I think if you take Change the Race Ratio, we have over 120 FTSE 350 clients signed up. We’re working through everything that we’re going to do, in terms of preparing the candidates of the future, but also the psychological safety and the environment, which I think, Peter, you will also understand that they need to operate in to be able to be a) visible, but also to have the right skills and how we’re going to bring that to them. I think those things are all important when you’re trying to address a societal issue which is now a global societal issue, not just UK.

Peter Holbrook
Yeah, I agree. I mean, one of the joys, actually, of working in social enterprise is the genuine, authentic representation and diversity that you see throughout. I mean, I’ve just done a biennial research survey published, and 47% of our leaders in social enterprise are women and 13% of social enterprises are led by a black or Asian person. And if you look at disability, if you look at age, whichever way you cut it, you see that social business genuinely represent the society in which we live. And that creates, I think, not only a great win for equality but it actually creates a much more competitive, a much more powerful business.

And I think one of the jobs that I try and do here is not just make the moral argument for why businesses need to be more responsible but making the business argument – the economic argument – of why businesses that do embrace their full diversity of society – why it makes them more competitive and more effective at what they’re trying to do in the world.

It’s such a privilege to be – what I consider – to be at the forefront of the future of business. There will come a time when all businesses do reflect society more so than they currently do and recognise their responsibilities to collectively work towards a regenerative economy that doesn’t diminish or degrade our environment, and actually shares and spreads prosperity for the benefit of all humanity, rather than for a very, very small elite.

It’s really exciting when you’re in a movement to feel as if you’re part of that process of change. Change does mean movement, and movement does mean friction. And, actually, I really enjoy being the naughty boy at times and pushing people and pushing ideas and philosophies and thoughts that really, potentially, stretch them and challenge them. I like being the person in the room that does that and I’m sure you do too, Kalvinder.

Kalvinder Dhillon
Yeah, I sort of thrive on it. I don’t know if I want to say that publicly on a podcast but I totally agree. And I think there’s something there, Peter, which is equal as the focus on business, but maybe you and I need to team up afterwards because the third sector needs to move on some of these things – the education system. If we look at charity organisations, the level of diversity in those boardrooms and the focus they put on the equality on how they contribute to society, I still think needs a shift. While there’s an equal focus on business – certainly with what we’re trying to in Change the Race Ratio – we’re also getting the universities and the third sector involved as well.

Your point on friction is really well-taken: you have to get out of your comfort zone to be prepared to move things. I think that’s really important. And be prepared to listen too. Not everyone’s going to agree with you but we do want dialogue with those who don’t agree with us as well, because dialogue is what creates a joint force.

Peter Holbrook
And I think the critical thing, for me, is that social movements are only successful when you create an opportunity for everybody to participate. These cannot be exclusive. And that means people that you might not consider to be necessarily your allies still have to have routes in to contribute, to participate, to exchange ideas. Only when you have genuinely inclusive movements do you actually ever create genuine social change.

Lizzie Elston
Interesting, isn’t it? And I mean, you’ve got your message out there, you’ve started it up, you’ve got people joining you, you’re gaining momentum. I wonder if you have had any particular moments along the way or any milestones that really propelled your movements.

Peter Holbrook
I think there’s – all you need is couple of small wins under your belt. I mean, I remember rebelling at school and organising a student sit-in against my secondary school in Mitcham, and when we were victorious, that propelled me to my next – what can I do next? And at university I did the same. I was the first of my family or generation to go to university – one of the first things I did was join up to the student societies and start thinking, ‘What could I change on campus?’ And we changed all sorts of things on campus.

And then my football club – AFC Wimbledon – well, it was called Wimbledon Football Club at the time – got bought by a billionaire, moved to Milton Keynes and I thought, ‘Well, we’re not having that.’ So we set up our own football club and everyone said it could never be done, and today, AFC Wimbledon, it’s in the first division; it’s got its own ground back at Plough Lane. I mean, the more you learn about what – the art of the possible, the more it propels you to go, ‘Okay, what next?’ And I just wish I knew what I know now when I was younger.

Kalvinder Dhillon
Yeah. And I don’t know what you think, Peter, but you’re always motivated by the energy of other people. You know, those random emails that people wonder if they should send someone. Actually, some of the emails that I received when we first became one of the founding organisations of Change the Race Ratio that came from our people, were, actually, some of the motivating moments that I’ve had. We’re propelled by other people’s energies, I think.

Peter, you’ve done this more than me, but I think one of the things, for me certainly, is that movements need to be kept alive so the energy can’t fade. You constantly have to ensure that you keep bringing the energy into whatever you’re trying to execute and implement. The danger is that everyone then starts to get busy with the job that they’re doing or the social pressure fades or the media coverage on a subject fades and then we fade with it. I think it’s sticking with it that is the hardest thing. Starting it, actually, for me is the easy bit. I think then sticking with it and getting some results is the tougher bit of all of this.

Peter Holbrook
Yeah, for sure. I mean, the civil rights movement didn’t end in the 1960s; it continues to this very minute.

Kalvinder Dhillon
Yeah, exactly.

George Parrett
I think that’s really interesting and I – whilst the small wins are a huge propelling factor, minor setbacks are just going to drive the determination even further, I suppose. And, yeah, to your point, Kalvinder, you can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs so you need to make sure that people are – that leadership is listening to people who are coming up with some of these issues as well, to challenge it.

And – sorry, Peter – you mentioned your research, which I think is the No Going Back – The State of Social Enterprise report. I found it really interesting that, during the course of the pandemic, I think something like 12,000 social enterprises have emerged, which is absolutely fascinating. And to your point about how important that is for business and the economy, I think those social enterprises should have – or the total number of UK social enterprises is over 100,000 and employing 2 million people which just shows the importance of some of these movements out there. Do you have any background as to why so many social enterprises have emerged over the last year?

Peter Holbrook
It’s a complex answer and I won’t bore you with all the technical elements, but I think people recognise a couple of things. They recognise that the traditional way of doing business might not be fit for the 21st century and we have to find a way that does business in a more regenerative way and in a way that doesn’t keep on driving this absolutely toxic inequality that we are seeing take hold right across the world, almost in every nation. There’s definitely a generation of young people that are rethinking what it means to be a business.

And, secondly, I think everybody now is searching for purpose. People want to feel as if their contribution for the short time – particularly in their working lives – has some sort of meaning. And, actually, to work for a company that has a social mission or an environmental mission, as opposed to making money for the man – and it normally is a man – is a liberating experience. And I think it certainly has driven – and I never realised this, actually, when I embarked on my journey in social enterprise – how much it would give me back, how much fulfilment it would give me through my life and how it continues to give me that sense of purpose, contribution, of ongoing learning; it’s a very, very, very different way of working. And, as you can gather, I’m a big fan of it and, of course, I’m not trying to turn Deloitte’s employees into a bunch of social entrepreneurs, but of course everyone is welcome.

This is a growing, growing sector, and I do believe that all business will operate in this way because I think it unlocks the key to productivity; it unlocks the solutions to the challenges we face right here, right today, and will face tomorrow. And I believe it’s – of course I do – it’s a better way of doing business and one that can be successful if the system and the ecosystem in which businesses operate can also find ways to propel it to its potential.

Yeah, I think there’s a couple of reasons why – and consumers, I mean, not just employees but also consumers. We see that even through the pandemic, even through austerity; people that are buying goods and services want to know that their money – that their purchase is making a difference. Things like the Social Value Act is really seeing that growth in more socialised forms of business. And I’m not always a purist. Small steps. I’m talking to some very big businesses at the moment, some big PLCs that are talking about how they can become more authentically social and how they can disperse opportunity and prosperity for more people. And they’re conversations that I love to have because, as you can imagine, I mean, what better way is there to spend an afternoon than thinking how a business can be more socially useful and impactful.

Lizzie Elston
In terms of – I mean, it’s incredibly motivational listening to both of you and so positive and enthusiastic, but clearly you will have come across obstacles and challenges, and I wonder if, maybe, Kalvinder, if we go to you: any difficult moments that made you question what you’re doing and how you managed to overcome those.

Kalvinder Dhillon
I think there are always difficult movements, and the moments when you’re doing the kind of work that you want to do which is outside of what we do in our day jobs, whether that’s getting someone’s buy-in or when we got involved with Open for Business, which is a leading LGBT thinktank… The number of people, sometimes, that you have to convince to get on board… I think, as impatient as Peter and I might be in our execution, that’s where you have to stay the course of patience and just believed that what you’re doing is right for you as an individual – so I think being authentic to yourself, but also that it matters to the people that you see every day who work for us.

And I think Peter’s point about the increase in social enterprises is really quite interesting for us, Lizzie, from a talent perspective. If we don’t give our people purpose, then we won’t be able to hire the best talent – is my personal view. And I think that’s the reason that we’re all in this: we’re not only in it because we want to fix society’s injustices but, to Peter’s point, we’re also in it because we want our people to have something more meaningful that they can tie themselves to.

And so, in those moments, there are always difficult moments. There are always moments when you come home and think – I was going to use a word that you’ll have to bleep[?] out, so I’ll resist using it – but I think you have to stay the course. Also, in that moment you have to have friends and mentors. For me, that’s always been important. The two or three people at Deloitte I can call up in that moment of frustration and say, ‘Hey, how would you go about this? How would you handle this?’ or external people, like Peter, who are very involved in these aspects who you can call and take guidance from because some of this is new for us as an organisation. We’re trying to build a purpose in a very focused way. I think the lesson for me is: don’t give up. We don’t give up on our day job; why should we give up on the injustices of society?

Lizzie Elston
Do you know – to echo what you’re saying from Greta Thunberg, who, of course, everyone knows and is very aware of at the moment with COP26 – so to that very point, because she was asked in a recent interview, ‘Do you ever just think it’s all going to get too hard and we should give up if we can’t make the target that we’re aiming for? And she said, ‘There’s always more you can do. Obviously, we’re trying to keep global temperature rises to below 1.5%, but if that’s not possible, then we go for 1.6%, and if that’s not possible, we go for 1.7%. There’s always more that can be done.’ So you’re in good company, Kalvinder.

Kalvinder Dhillon
Wow. I should be on that picket line with her outside COP26.

Lizzie Elston
Absolutely. Get to Glasgow.

Kalvinder Dhillon
Come on, Peter. Tonight’s flight.

Peter Holbrook
I mean, I thought – the thing that I’ve always met – and I’ve met it for over 35 years of my life, if not more – is that the message that, ‘That’ll never happen,’ or ‘That’s not possible.’ And, actually, you have to believe it’s possible; otherwise there’s every likelihood that you might give up. I often think that maybe I’m just too much of a dreamer and my vision and ambition for the world is just – it’s just not one that’s shared by many, many others. Then you think about everyone that’s gone before you and you think about people that are genuinely changing livelihoods in their lifetimes and it just spurs you on to at least just give it a go.

I mean, there’s a million people that you can draw upon that have created change and they’re not all well-known names. It’s not always your Nelson Mandelas or your Steve Bikos or your Greta Thunbergs. Change happens by potentially a million small actions coming together to collectively changing things. And I don’t want people to feel as if you can – you’ve got to lead a social moment to change the world. Small actions, when amplified by a million people, have the potential to change the world. You can’t solve a problem from the same consciousness that created it. We must learn to see the world anew, and we have to believe that we can create change within the timeframes that we’ve got, because otherwise what’s the point, right? Be hopeful, be optimistic and, whether it’s a small or a big change that you can make, it does all matter.

Kalvinder Dhillon
And I think, just on that point, Peter, which is something I’ve been thinking about lots over the last few weeks, is that as businesses we can come together more on the real big pillars of injustice in society. And I think sometimes we’re too driven by our competitiveness. It often came up in Change the Race Ratio: should the other Big Four be involved? What would their role be? And Richard was great. We were like, ‘Yeah, we want everybody involved. Let’s not worry about competitors and who’s taking the lead.’ And I think, if we could do more of that, we would have a bigger impact in society. It’s when we’re funnelling anything and everything into individualistic purposes, when, actually, there are probably a few things right now where, if we all came together in a bigger way, we would make a much bigger impact. If there’s one thing I would like to see change in businesses, it’s exactly that: let’s pick the big bets that we want to make and let’s do it together.

Peter Holbrook
I think you’re right. And I think Lizzie said in her opening, actually, that businesses have probably never had so much power, and that’s absolutely right. Businesses have never had the power that they have today. I don’t know which superhero it was but, ‘With great power comes great responsibility,’ right? And, actually, if the solution doesn’t rest with businesses then, actually, there probably won’t be a solution.

George Parrett
I think this has been a fantastic discussion. I promise we’re going to close soon but I think we could go on for hours. I wanted to just ask you, very quickly, looking back at your careers to date: is there anything that you’re particularly proud of as part of your respective journeys? And what’s the main stay-awake issue that’s keeping you up at night still? I don’t want to pick on someone to go first but...

Kalvinder Dhillon
That’s okay. Peter, I mean, I’m happy to –

[Crosstalk]

Kalvinder Dhillon
Go for it. Shall we do it together?

Peter Holbrook
Well, I was going to say, actually, the thing that creates most discomfort is the stellar introduction that you gave me and it just makes me feel, ‘That’s not me. That’s…’ I am literally just me and I’ve got this huge privilege of having the job that I’ve got now and the opportunity to speak to you brilliant people. I mean, I just feel very privileged and probably very over-promoted. And that’s what keeps me awake at night, thinking, ‘I’m not worthy to hold this position of responsibility.’ I genuinely do. I’ve got no regrets about mistakes I’ve made in my career and how little I was paid in the early days of working for small charities in fairly modest roles. We all wish we, probably, had a little bit more but, actually, what I gained through this is beyond my wildest dreams and imagination could have ever told me I would get from this, and that is knowledge, friendships, learning from people that have got far, far less than I have got. I mean, honestly, I’ve got no regrets, only a sense of great privilege, and a real modesty when you get such wonderful introductions.

George Parrett
We can edit it out, if you like, Peter. That’s fine.

Kalvinder Dhillon
I don’t know if I look back at anything and think I’m proud of it. I think there’s so much to do, right? I think I’m one of those people who looks and thinks, ‘What else should we be doing?’ And I think – I guess, the one thing I would want people to sustain is inquisitiveness and to continue to challenge because we have so much to do when it comes to society’s inequity and injustices. And we’ve got nothing to be proud of in a world that is so inequal at the moment. That would be my view on the world outside of everything we do. We have too much to do to stop.

Peter Holbrook
And I still really want to build a movement. I know we’re talking about starting movements but can I go to bed tonight and think, ‘I’ve started a movement’? No, I can’t. I’m still yet to achieve that in my lifetime, so that’s my ambition for the future.

Lizzie Elston
Well, you know, massive luck to the years ahead and thank you so much for such inspiring comments today. I think we’re about to close it off so we can’t do that without asking the big question of this week’s episode which is, ‘How do you start a movement?’ Perhaps just in a few words, each of you.

Kalvinder Dhillon
I think, for me, I never look at it as a movement because I think that would probably overwhelm me. I think, find something that you’re really passionate about. Take it somewhere. Try – to Peter’s point, we don’t have to be Nelson Mandelas; we make a difference every day in our life. Whether that impacts 10 people, 20 people or a couple of hundred or a couple of thousand, who knows? Give it a go. I think that’s the main thing for me.

Lizzie Elston
And Peter.

Peter Holbrook
Gosh. If only I knew, I would have probably done it. I think do it with good humour because there’s nothing like a lecture in morality to switch people off. Do it with good grace, with good humour and never assume your position as a leader. Some of the greatest leaders have followed, rather than led. And just go forward with that sense of keeping truth in your heart and be true to yourself and true to what you know, and you can’t really go far wrong. Whether or not you create a movement, you can certainly be part of one.

George Parrett
Kalvinder and Peter, thank you so much for joining us in the studio today. It’s been a fantastic discussion. I for one have personally got an awful lot of advice about how to make a successful conga next time I’m at a wedding. It’s been a brilliant discussion and thank you so much for coming.

Peter Holbrook
Thank you.

Lizzie Elston
Thank you.

Kalvinder Dhillon
Thank you. Thanks for having us.

Announcement
Thanks for listening to this episode of The Green Room by Deloitte. We’ll be back next time with another big question. This podcast is produced by our very own pod squad and hosted by George Parrett, Lizzie Elston and Ethan Worth. Thanks to our creative studio for their technical support. Original music by Ali Barrett from our consulting team.

Further reading

If you’re interested in any of the topics we talked about during this episode, you might find the links below useful.

Social Enterprise UK – the leading global authority on social enterprise and the biggest network of social enterprises in the UK.

No Going Back – State of Social Enterprise Survey 2021 – the latest state of the sector report by Social Enterprise UK.

Change the Race Ratio – a campaign encouraging FTSE 350 companies to be transparent about their targets and commitments for Ethnic leadership at the Executive and Board level.

Open for Business – an initiative to ensure we continue to drive global parity and thought leadership around LGBTQ+ participation.

City Mental Health Alliance – an organisation ensuring we continue to focus on positive mental wellbeing.

How to start a movement – a great TED Talk by Derek Sivers

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