Case study

Think, Act, Report: Deloitte

Focusing on Workplace Culture


We have placed a significant focus on our firm’s culture, to ensure our workplace is somewhere where women (and indeed all our people) can balance a successful career with commitments outside work. We want to ensure that Deloitte provides a truly inclusive environment which is underpinned by respect.


We have made attracting, retaining and developing women a business priority, so it is at the forefront of our business strategy. Our Executive has committed to taking a number of actions including a major focus on agile working, so that we are able to retain and develop our female talent. We are also very proud of our Return-to- Work programme – the first of its kind in professional services in the UK – which was introduced in 2015 to help reconnect the firm with senior, talented women who have had time away from their professional careers – for parenthood, family care or other reasons. There is also our firm-wide sponsorship programme which pairs aspiring female leaders with a senior sponsor, male or female.

From inclusion to diversity

But we know that we will not make sustainable change at senior levels without ensuring that we provide an inclusive culture. A challenge for many diversity programmes is that they are often too narrow and focused on specific actions or programmes in isolation, rather than addressing the required underlying cultural shift needed to make a real impact and lasting difference. By shifting the focus from diversity-focused actions to that of an inclusive culture we are aiming to ensure everyone feels part of the solution and personally accountable for their conscious or unconscious impact on each other. Under this approach, everyone understands that gender balance is an outcome of the culture and environment within which our people work.

Respect and inclusion

Our leadership has made it a business imperative to ensure that we provide an inclusive culture, and our Respect & Inclusion (R&I) action plan therefore sets out a comprehensive set of measures the firm is taking to ensure it provides such an environment. This plan is underpinned by three principles: respect; trust; and open and honest communication:

  • Educating our people – we are ensuring all our people, existing and new joiners, understand the firm’s expectations regarding respectful and inclusive behaviours, and understand that action will always be taken in relation to unacceptable behaviour. This includes providing facilitated face-to-face group sessions for all partners and directors; mandatory R&I e-learning for everyone in the firm; and – through our diversity networks – educating our people on different faiths, LGBT issues, and ethnic and gender diversity.

  • Creating compelling communications – we have committed to sharing our R&I intentions both internally and externally. We created ‘Ask yourself’, a short, thought-provoking film to challenge the thoughts of our people around a number of scenarios including gender bias, sexual orientation, disability, ethnicity and work-life balance. It was uploaded to our internal video channel and played on digital screens in our offices. We also decided to share it on YouTube to help inspire other organisations on their own respect and inclusion journeys.

  • Effective escalation channels – to enable our people to talk about issues in a ‘safe’ way and allow the firm to proportionately address inappropriate behaviour. This includes the introduction of trained R&I Advisors, a group of senior leaders who play an important and visible role in ensuring we provide an inclusive and respectful working environment.

Leading by example

Driving any change in a firm of 15,000 people requires authentic and active support from the firm’s most senior leaders. Our CEO, David Sproul, has encouraged the Executive team to be visible and reinforce the prominence of R&I in their own communications and actions. Also, by taking the unusual step to mandate participation at our hard-hitting R&I workshops for all partners and directors, and encouraging them to discuss these with their teams, the Executive has sent a clear signal to the firm that this is a real priority. As one of the largest and most influential employers in the UK, Deloitte recognises its responsibility to lead and drive the gender equality agenda. This is the reason we have publically supported the UK government’s proposal to require larger companies to publish their gender pay gap data, having signed up to Think, Act, Report when it was launched in 2011. In July 2015 we decided to make the firm’s gender pay gap publically available, joining a handful of firms in the UK that have voluntarily disclosed this information to date.


  • Just under a third of the partners promoted in 2015 were female.
  • More than half of the participants on our Return-to Work programme have secured permanent roles with the firm.
  • To date, over 1,000 partners and have participated in R&I workshops and these are currently being rolled out to 1,000 directors.
  • 10,500 people have completed the mandatory R&I e-learning.
  • Our ‘Ask Yourself’ film has had more than 26,500 views on YouTube.

Next Steps

We know we still have more to do, but we believe that only by a combination of cultural change and specific actions will we continue to improve the retention of women within the firm and the representation of women in senior positions.

Published 23 May 2016