Annual Report 2019 - Living our purpose

Conversation between Emma Cox, Head of Purpose and Havish Patel 

Havish Patel (HP)

Over the last year I've noticed that purpose has been really visible across our firm and I was wondering what have you done and what are you doing to ensure everyone in the firm feels like they can bring our purpose to life

Emma Cox (EC)

If people don't know what our purpose is and how it relates to what they do then they can't start to really actually be driven and use it, so I've been really focused on actually working with all the parts of our business to understand what purpose means to make sure that they engage with all our people around the business and to face up to actually where it is difficult, where does it cause challenges where does it feel real and how do we actually bring it to life.

HP

What does purpose mean to the firm?

EC

So our purpose is to build trust in society and solve important problems; so I think we've been trying to actually be really open and honest about what our purpose means, using it actually to drive thinking about both the really great stuff that we're doing and you know with our clients and actually in the way we run ourselves as a business but also in some of the more challenging areas. So for example putting purpose at the heart of the audit profession discussion for example. What does quality what does the future of audit look like that's really rooted in our in our purpose to build trust in society

HP

How are we working with clients to ensure that our purpose is aligned with theirs

EC

What we're doing is actually trying to understand in any project that we're doing what the positive impact is that we're driving - so take an example data analytics was doing a project recently where they were using some quite complex tools to help understand the impacts of modern slavery. Now you can really see how that's driving the positive societal impact. Some work we were doing in the NHS was all about freeing up time of nurses so that they could focus on patient care - again you can really see what the impact is. So we're also trying to stand back as a firm I'll actually say how do we understand the outcomes and the impacts that our work is driving and trying to design a framework to understand that and some better KPIs to hold ourselves to account for it.

HP

There are a number of challenges that our clients are facing there are also a number of challenges that we're facing as a business and how is our purpose helping us navigate that?

EC

So if you take technology for example at the moment there's lots of disruption for both our clients and ourselves in the world of technology, and I think it's really important as we look at the changes and the opportunities that technology is driving that we remember our purpose and think about both the positive and negative impacts that it can drive and always think about actually keeping what's the people impact at the heart of that so if you think about intelligent digital how do we keep the people side at the centre of it. When we're talking with clients about the disruption that they're facing or they're implementing new technology how do we understand what actually the impact is going to be on both making jobs better or driving processes faster, but what are the unintended consequences as well - so we have a responsible technology policy as a firm which helps us also think about that again it's an example of our purpose and practice.

HP

How are we making sure that we don't get lost in the noise and ensuring that we have actionable purpose

EC

We've run a session for example with all our people being able to listen to some of our board members talking about how they reach strategic decisions - everybody in the firm understands how we operate why we make the decisions that we do and the more open and transparent we can be the better it is. We also use of our brand and our convening power to work with people in collaborative space - so we work with a lot of the big platforms and forums like the World Economic Forum or the World Business Council for sustainable development on some really picture issues where we get lots of ideas together in order to make real progress and I'm really proud of those sorts of things.

HP

I think it's really inspiring to hear that our strategy is both top-down and bottom-up and I'd like to thank you very much for your time in discussing this today.

EC

Thanks Havish.

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