Creating an inclusive legacy in Birmingham and beyond

Where sports leads, business follows. The Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games has not only created a showcase for sporting talent and the cultural vibrancy of its host city, but worked to place diversity, inclusion and accessibility at the heart of everything it does. As proud sponsors of Birmingham 2022, this episode explores how business can not only support these events, but use them as an opportunity to reinforce their social values and purpose for their people and communities.

Join host Rowena Morris, PwC Head of Regions and Platforms Carl Sizer and four-time Olympian and Head of Inclusion and Engagement for Birmingham 2022 Donna Fraser OBE for a passionate and inspirational look at delivering on your purpose.

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Rowena Morris, Carl Sizer, Donna Fraser

Rowena Morris:

Welcome to our business and focus podcast. I'm sure many of us have been enjoying all the action at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, and as proud sponsors we're taking a closer look at their impact in terms of inclusion, social mobility and more. Events such as this are a showcase of talent, culture and community, and they also bring the opportunity to generate a legacy that is green, inclusive and with true beneficial, social and economic impact to the area. This is why the role of businesses in supporting and sponsoring Birmingham 2022 is so important and we're going to take a closer look at what businesses and communities can do to make this a true catalyst for change. Joining me today is Carl Sizer, PwC's Head of Regions, and Donna Fraser OBE and Head of Inclusion and Engagement for Birmingham 2022, and four time medal winning Olympian. Donna, you've become a leader in equality, inclusion and diversity with over ten years of corporate experience within sport, business and leadership and in 2021 you were awarded your OBE for services to equality, diversity and inclusion in the workplace, so it's so fantastic to have you here with us today. Thanks for joining.

Donna Fraser:

Thank you. Hello, everyone.

Carl Sizer:

Hello everyone, as well. Great to be here as well Rowena

Rowena:

Thanks, Carl. So, let's get started. There's so much to cover about the wider impact of the Games, but first let's kick off with some of the Games itself. So, something that really stands out for the whole approach for me is that sense of purpose around inclusion, accessibility, and community engagement, all of which really speaks to us here at PwC. So, Donna, let's kick things off with a little bit of an inside look into how you've been driving through that focus through activity to date.

Donna:

Absolutely. Thanks Rowena, So, my role covers two sides. One is to embed equality, diversity and inclusion into the workplace through our processes, policies, practices, to ensure that the organising committee and those who are delivering the Games absolutely take that onboard and put that through their operational plans. Then the other side is the community engagement team sits within my remit alongside safeguarding as well, so that whole length and breadth of what ED and I means is within my team and my remit, which is a huge area to cover but it's everyone's responsibility to ensure that EDI is driven throughout all that we're doing and links back into what we've said. It's the Games for everyone, which everyone will play a role in delivering those Games in an inclusive and accessible way.

Carl:

So, look, I think, Donna, what you've said there around EDI and the focus you bring on the Games is really quite impressive actually, and it's something that really does front run what, as business, we think about. You know, you lead by example in a lot of these areas, whether it be, for example, in the area of safeguarding where actually that's something that's probably rising up the agenda but I know is so high on the agenda for the Commonwealth Games, and I do think sport plays a really important role in bringing things to the fore that maybe haven't been talked about as much in the past. That, actually, is really quite exciting because it gives us a chance to challenge ourselves in the business community as to the things we should be doing. Actually, I'd love to hear a bit more about that safeguarding area, actually.

Donna:

Well, it is the first Games to even have an EDI head of, or even make sure that there is a role and a team in place to cover off Equality Diversity and Inclusion. It's also the first to have a safeguarding lead as well. It's important for us as a Games to ensure that anyone from any role that they play in these games, whether you're an official, a coach, an athlete, volunteer, that you do feel safe and we create that safe environment as well. So, our safeguarding lead has done a huge amount of work, working with the individual function areas to educate because of course sometimes when you hear the word 'safeguarding' it's, 'Oh, my goodness. This is a nightmare. What do I do? Panic stations,' and it's not the case. It's about awareness and Colin, our safeguarding lead, has worked so closely with these functional areas to not be deemed as a bad word but it's that awareness so they feel comfortable that if they do see something that isn't quite right that they have the tools or the skills to really address it in an ideal way and, of course, with the safeguarding team supporting that individual as well. That just doesn't happen in sport. We know safeguarding is a big topic at the moment throughout sport, however it also works in corporate as well.

Rowena:

Donna, just before we started recording you were talking about some top tips for leadership teams within businesses to think around that whole EDI agenda, and you were talking about some of the values that you think about and that you embed across everything that you do. Can you touch on that a little bit for our listeners?

Donna:

Yes, most definitely. So, we've adopted the FREDIE model which was developed by the National Centre for Diversity and in fact, that FREDIE model is an acronym which is Fairness, Respect, Equality, Diversity, Inclusion and Engagement. We've literally put that-, that's the golden thread. It's a nice way to really relay what we mean through that. It has to be a fair environment. We respect one another. Equality has to be exercised throughout. Diversity, we embrace that, and what Birmingham brings in terms of that diversity. Inclusion is key, especially through decision making, and then of course that engagement side which is what we're adopting through our community engagement programme. That can be almost lifted and dropped as a blueprint through any organisation, especially when it comes to individuals and how you're doing it. So, in terms of tips for leadership, most organisations like yourselves will have your own values but what does that really look like? How do you bring that to life and giving the individuals in that organisation the ownership, but primarily those behaviours need to be led by leadership, and that commitment to drive an EDI agenda is really key. It's easy to play lip service to EDI, saying, 'Yes, we're doing great things,' but what are you actually doing? How is that linked back into the overarching strategy, as well? Showing that commitment and talking about it almost like it's second nature, it's shouldn't be an add-on. As I said, Birmingham 2022 is the first Games to have these departments in place to make sure that it is fully embedded.

Rowena:

I think that's something that will really resonate with our listeners and I really like that point there of just making this an everyday thing, so you were talking earlier about, you know, thinking through what's the experience if you've got people in the office and people working hybrid and how do you integrate some of those values and just your everyday days of working as well, to really bring that to life of people's everyday experience. Carl, the other point that occurs to me here is the sort of focus and commitment to creating spaces where people really feel safe to be themselves and bring their best is also a really huge benefit to attracting and retaining diverse workforces. Can you touch on that a little bit?

Carl:

Yes, and I think actually just to build on this creating safe places and actually bringing values to life as Donna's just said, one of the things we've focused on a lot on over recent years is mental health, and we created a strong mental health advocates network, of which I'm one of them, but that creating a safe environment for people to be able to have those conversations that they need to have to make sure they feel safe, secure, but also offer up an environment in which they can talk to someone, about the challenges that they may be facing. Not so that we can then solve those for them, because that's not our job, but actually to think about how we can then give them the support that they need. That's all within the interest of trying to help businesses get the most from their employee base whilst protecting them at the same time. I think that plays into then thinking about how you take that into the broader skills and development agenda, and a lot of what the Games is really bringing. What you're looking for is that diverse, rich tapestry of talent coming into an organisation, and across the UK, across our regional practice, you know, we have very many different people coming into the organisation from very different walks of life. All of them bring very different dimensions to them.

I think that's in part what the Games is also really highlighting, and we're trying to bring out in Birmingham. You know, by playing and sponsoring into that Commonwealth Games as we are, we've really focused on that communities and engaging with schools, because we're looking to work with the local communities to really bring to life the opportunities that are available to them. That's why the Commonwealth Games, for us, has been such a great catalyst for our local communities, and it's been such a great engaging event for all of our people to get involved in.

Rowena:

That was an excellent opportunity to introduce that other real area of passion and success that we've seen from the Games, as you say. That community engagement point, and Donna, the Games have been a real success story for this so it'd be great to hear a little bit more about how you approached that.

Donna:

Yes, when I started this role, I felt that of course EDI is really important, but community is what will make the Games a success, and we've done a huge amount of engagement in the community. The team have gone out and about delivering road shows, going into community hubs, going into actual communities and talking to individuals who lead on the work that's already there, and I think that was really key for us, is not having to reinvent the wheel or create something new, but working with the community so they feel part of something and the delivery of the Games. Of course we haven't got everything right. It is a small team, we haven't been able to get out to everyone but we've done our utmost best to do so, especially working with the communities of social deprivation and where there's lack of physical activity as well, because of course this is a sporting event. A multi-sport event, where some communities haven't seen or even heard of some of the sports or have access full stop to some of these sports.

We've gone out to these communities to share the sports. It's almost like a have a go approach, and of course it's not just about participation because we've got the volunteering programme so people can get involved in different ways. I always use the quote done by Nelson Mandela, you know, 'Sport has the power to change the world,' and it certainly does that. The community engagement team is definitely using that quote to leverage the engagement of communities. It's just really important for us to get that visibility of the Games and how it benefits the individuals, both from a jobs and skills perspective but also that participation because hopefully Birmingham will host further multi-sporting activities in the future and this is a blueprint. Of course we'll want us to deliver the best Games but you never know. We are a blueprint and things can improve on future activities that happen here in this great city.

Carl:

The vision that you've just articulated, Donna, around, you know, that focus that the Games has had around purpose, around equality, around community, that's exactly why we as an organisation really wanted to work alongside yourselves because that focus on purpose, that focus on social value, is something that is increasing in prominence in business. You know, we know that in the government sector, for example, social value is something that is incorporated into every single piece of work that is now done. Importantly, we know it's something that our staff and other stakeholders see as fundamentally important. You know, that emphasis on purpose, doing the right thing, in feeling like they're doing work that makes a difference, is the thing that is starting to attract and retain talent, and so it's an important business component as we move forward as well.

Donna:

Oh, absolutely. Again, another first for us is to really have a huge focus on social value and the person who's led on that has done a huge amount of work really to show the commitment that we have to sustainability, health and wellbeing, inclusivity, even human rights, which again, taps into the safeguarding areas and also that local benefit. So, that whole social value charter is playing a big part from a legacy perspective of the games.

Carl:

I think it's fair to say, isn't it, Donna, that actually trying to deliver on that degree of commitment is a bit of a challenge. You know, you've got the commitment around the community side, but you've also got the ambition to create the first carbon neutral Games. You put all of those things together, it's a huge amount there to deliver and of course the time that you've had here has been somewhat shortened as a result of various different external events, so it's really pretty impressive what's been achieved.

Donna:

Definitely, Carl. I think people do often forget how short a time we've had but what we've delivered to date has been phenomenal and I'm not one to brag, but most Games do have a lot longer than ourselves, but we put ourselves out there, we were committed to deliver an inclusive and accessible Games, and we're definitely en route to do that. You know, with not too long to go it's going to be really exciting but we're committed and it's not just about the Games, which is what we're saying. It's about what happens after, which is just as important.

Rowena:

I feel, Donna, at the end we should come to you for some top tips on how you've been able to achieve everything you've achieved in that very short timescale, as you say. Carl, can we just have a think about from a client perspective and what we're seeing at PwC, what are some of the questions that our clients are coming to us with around the whole DEI agenda?

Carl:

So, look, I think where it probably is striking organisations most is as they start to look through the complexity of their supply chains. Supply chains have really come to the fore in the last few months, off the back of various challenges we're having across the globe, but not just supply chain in terms of delivery, but what is happening in the supply chain more broadly. Whether that be around the inclusivity or the diversity of business operating in the supply chain, the appropriateness of wages that is happening around the world, some of the impacts and challenges as to the working environments that people are working in. You know, that is just continuing to go up the agenda and we're getting asked more and more questions alongside that when we're thinking about ESG strategies for organisations. People often go to the E of ESG, which is clearly important and that's a key part of that carbon neutrality that the Games is delivering, but actually that S of ESG continues to build in terms of prominence as well. That's really making sure we get the social aspects right and it is largely through that supply chain where people are really quite interested, because it's hard to get under the skin of it.

Rowena:

I think our listeners will agree with that one, so this seems like a good time to help them with that by providing some advice that they can take away and start really putting into action. Donna, what would your really practical tips be for business leaders looking to replicate some of this passion and focus in their own inclusion or ESG commitments?

Donna:

Yes, there's quite a few. It depends on how long we've got. No, I'm only kidding. I'll keep it brief. I think that golden thread or that term that I've used several times already is that that commitment and understanding what the purpose is of the organisation from the outset, and once you've set that vision and know the why, it's really important to bring everyone and galvanise together to work towards that, that commitment. As I said, everyone plays a role in delivering that vision, so leadership has a huge task of relaying that, communicating it, and making it easy for people to understand and how it relates to them to be able to support that vision. So, it sounds quite simple but sometimes we can get lost. There are so many things going on, especially in the news, it's easy to divert but it's that huge focus on what you want to achieve, especially around, for us, obviously, Carl's already mentioned around our carbon neutral legacy, our inclusivity and accessibility, those key words are easy for people to understand but how can that be articulated into everyone's every day work? That's the difficult bit. If it can be articulated in a way that everyone across an organisation can really understand and drive that, it will be a success.

Rowena:

That's great advice, thank you, Donna. Carl, what about you, from your perspective for business?

Carl:

I think I would build on what Donna said there, really around the vision but maybe switch it slightly to how you bring the purpose of an organisation to life through this. One of the things we here a lot about is purpose statements and what an organisation is for, but I think what leaders can really do is try and help their people and other stakeholders, you know, customers, investors, really understand what does the purpose really mean? Really bring it to life for people, and that needs leaders to lead from the front in really demonstrating what it means to be delivering on the purpose that they are stating. That can be through quite small interactions on a day to day basis, but sometimes some quite big statements where you're making a real notice out into the market as to what you are doing in a certain area. I think that purpose piece linked with the vision as Donna talked about, you bring the two of those together and I think you've got something very compelling.

Rowena:

Great point, Carl. So, that draws us to the close of another 'In conversation with' episode of our business and focus podcast. Thanks so much, Donna and Carl, for taking part. You can follow the games via Birmingham2022.com and find out more about our support via PwC.co.uk/B2022 and of course, thank you to everyone for listening and finally, don't forget to subscribe to keep up to date with future episodes. Thanks everyone, and please tune in again soon.

Participants

  • Rowena Morris
  • Carl Sizer
  • Donna Fraser
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