2020 Annual Report

Fast forward to the past
Is automation making organisations less diverse?

Richard Houston

Senior Partner and CEO, Deloitte UK and Deloitte North and South Europe

It’s definitely not been the year I’d quite expected... in fact it’s been pretty extraordinary.

It feels sometimes like I’ve had three years’ of CEO experience condensed into six months. But I’m a natural optimist. And I’m a big believer in people and our business, and our ability to rise to the occasion. And that’s exactly what we’ve done. That ability to combine skills and experience to solve difficult problem has really been the highlight in the last six months.

Quite frankly, we’ve had to completely change our ways of working. We’ve moved 20,000 people to work remotely and we’ve been thinking about the business that we want to be. How do we change our business at this period of uncertainty for the better?

That means adopting new technologies to help collaboration and engagement with our people and our clients. But it’s also about simplifying and transforming our business, all focused on how we can make a greater positive impact.

Our clients have been navigating uncertainty and difficulties in the market. They’ve been focused on accelerating their adoption of technologies, rethinking how they work but also looking more broadly at their role in society and responsible business. We’ve been doing exactly the same in our own business.

The role of business in our society has never been more relevant. In the last six months we’ve been able to support society in new ways, reaching our target of helping one million people through education and employment.

Now we’re looking to do more to build skills and create brighter futures. Our new WorldClass commitment means we’ll help another five million people by 2030.

The impacts of COVID-19 have placed a greater focus on responsible business. The decisions companies make now will be remembered by employees, customers and the wider market for years to come.

We have an opportunity to build trust and lift confidence in the economy. But to do that, we need to focus on people and the planet, not just profit.

I think we’re at a critical moment in the UK. If you look beyond COVID-19 we have a huge amount of uncertainty and change. But in the last year we’ve shown that business can contribute to some of the biggest challenges across the UK.

The importance of business and government working together has never been more critical. We at Deloitte are committed to playing a leading role in that change: restoring trust in business, driving more inclusive growth, and enhancing skills, education and inclusion for all across the UK.

A personal thank you from me to our people and our clients for supporting our firm - enabling us to achieve remarkable things to support the nation at its time of greatest need. Thank you all.

Automation risks reinforcing existing inequality

There is mounting evidence that automation will remove many jobs, and that this will affect groups most disadvantaged by structural inequality.

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Ignoring diversity risks reduced automation benefit

Innovation is a critical success factor and must be at the heart of public sector organisations’ automation programmes. There is evidence that workforce diversity is a key driver of innovation.

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Action on workplace diversity is needed urgently

Efforts by the public sector to upskill their workforce when automating processes should integrate diversity into their approach, to ensure that the transition to new roles is as rapid and equitable as possible.

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Barriers facing diversity in public sector automation programmes

For many public sector organisations implementing automation whilst considering diversity is new and uncharted territory. We identified a number of barriers.

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A way forward: diversity and automation in the public sector

Our four-stage framework provides a guide on how to integrate diversity into automation programmes to enable the wider organisation to become more diverse.

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