A "new" norm that men, women and underrepresented groups can identify with at all times. That is the purpose of Deloitte's Panel & Proposal Promise, which went live in February 2021. Hilary Richters, Lead Digital Ethics at Deloitte Risk Advisory, is the driving force behind the Promise. 'It's an instrument. We're not there yet, but this is a great start.'
'The Promise means that we use the 40/40/20 rule for every proposal and in each panel that Deloitte is asked to join. We strive to build teams that consist of 40% men, 40% women, and 20% of an underrepresented group - colleagues who identify with the LGBT+ community, who have a non-Western ethnic background or a (visible) disability. Both within and outside Deloitte we want to show a balanced representation of society and of our organisation. The Promise offers hope, dreams and opportunities to the current and next generations. You make them feel that there is a place for them, too. Moreover, a diverse organisation is more powerful, more innovative and more interesting to work for.'
For over 13 years Hilary has been working at Deloitte. She is responsible for Deloitte's ethical and responsible approach to data and technology-driven solutions. 'My work connects cold technology with the warm, human aspect. We think about how to make data and technology work for the good for people, without excluding any groups, for instance because of their ethnicity, education, or social class. Inclusion is a pivotal part of my job. However, it wasn't the motive for the Panel & Proposal Promise', Hilary admits. 'The moment everything changed for me, my so-called butterfly effect, was something I experienced in 2019.'
"The butterfly effect: a very small action can make a huge and lasting impact."
At the end of 2019 there was a large international event for the banking world. One of the topics was digital ethics. 'A prominent female professor in the ethics of technology had been asked as a moderator. But when she found out that the panel consisted of five older white men, she declined. To her, a non-diverse panel was unacceptable. As the lead for Digital Ethics I took over her role as a moderator. We made the panel more diverse, based on gender, ethnicity, age, and professional background, and made the professor part of the panel. At the end of the day we received a lot of positive feedback. During other sessions on the same day the participants noticed that there were only men discussing the importance of diversity on stage. We showed what diversity looks like and didn't need to discuss it. This experience opened my eyes.'
'Diversity positively impacts Deloitte and its employees. However, it's still a bit unusual. That is why I was determined to make a difference. I have always been proud of working at Deloitte. But if we don't express diversity, I can't fully identify with the organisation. I discussed the topic with co-workers and many of them understood exactly what I meant and supported my idea of a Panel & Proposal Promise. Subsequently I sent an email to the members of the Deloitte Board and Executive Committee, telling them my story and making them a proposition. They agreed that diversity and inclusion is a vital issue. And currently the Panel & Proposal Promise is live, since 1 February. Now everyone can experience the power of diversity as I have experienced.'
'Of course, the Panel & Proposal Promise is only an instrument. It is aimed at raising awareness about the vital importance of diversity and inclusion. Everyone can experience the balanced representation of men, women, and underrepresented groups. We should all be able to identify with the Deloitte brand and feel that we are part of it. If we are successful, we will create a "new" norm. We just started to shape the Promise and we are not there yet. But the intention is very much alive. We have all taken the step towards a future with hope, dreams and opportunities for everyone!'
'We are not there yet, but we have taken the step towards a future with hope, dreams and opportunities for everyone.'