Social mobility: schools engagement
Education has been at the heart of PwC’s involvement in our local communities for over 20 years, focusing on raising young people's aspirations and employability skills.
Our goal is to give pupils the opportunity to develop skills for a successful future and to access careers in business, whether at PwC or beyond, irrespective of their background. To support this we recently combined the skills of our community education and student recruitment teams to form a new Schools Engagement Team, charged with delivering an innovative, programme of activity.
We’re working closely with over 40 partner schools nationally, selected based on their proximity (local authority social mobility coldspots, and Opportunity Areas), and the proportion of students eligible for free school meals. We offer a suite of activities including mentoring, work experience, and employability workshops. We’re also working with many more schools nationally to deliver open office events, careers fairs, virtual events and newsletters.
We’ve set ourselves two key targets for the next five years: to support 25,000 young people to develop workplace skills through our programmes, and for 1,000 young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to participate in our formal paid work experience programme. These align with the Sustainable Development Goals for Quality education (Goal 4), Reduced inequalities (Goal 10) and, Decent work and economic growth (Goal 8).
You can read more about our firmwide social mobility strategy here.
Social enterprise has been a key pillar of our community strategy for more than ten years, and is one of the ways that we help to tackle social exclusion and support some of the most vulnerable people in the UK.
We draw on the broad skills and resources available within the firm and through our community partners such as the School for Social Entrepreneurs and Social Enterprise UK, to provide a wide programme of support exclusively for members to help them make connections, develop their skills and grow their businesses.
We continue to support social enterprise in London through our social enterprise hub the Fire Station, which houses a complementary group of organisations collaborating to advance social and environmental change. It’s also home to our very own social enterprise, Brigade, our joint-venture social enterprise bar and bistro, which provides training and employment opportunities for people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.
We’ve been buying from social enterprises for a number of years, and in 2016 became a founding member of the Buy Social Corporate Challenge, committing to increase our procurement spend with social enterprises by 2020. In 2017 we spent £1.5 million.
Over the next five years we plan to maintain our target to support more than 250 social enterprises through the PwC Social Entrepreneurs club. And, we want to further extend our regional presence, so that at least half of our club members are based in regions with local authority social mobility coldspots, and DfE Opportunity Areas. This will help us to support the Sustainable Development Goals for Reduced inequalities (Goal 10) and Decent work and economic growth (Goal 8)
Visit www.pwc.co.uk/social-enterprise for more information on our programme.
Mental health and wellbeing
Mental health and wellbeing is an important issue for our wider communities, as well as for our people and their families. We’ve supported this issue through our community activities for several years, and have now formalised it as a strategic focus area for our community programmes and the PwC Foundation. Over the next five years, we’ll be supporting charities to improve mental health and wellbeing across the UK, contributing to Sustainable Development Goal 4: Good health and wellbeing.
Our people have voted to support the Samaritans as a PwC Foundation partner for the next two years, through fundraising and volunteering. We’re raising money to enable Samaritans to train 500 volunteers, who could answer an additional 105,000 calls each year. And our people will also be training to be Samaritans, and can use their volunteering time to answer calls for the Samaritans during working hours.
We also have a long standing relationship with Wellbeing of Women, a charity dedicated to improving the health of women and babies. Each year we sponsor a doctor to undertake a particular medical research project to develop better treatments and outcomes.
Environmental volunteering has been a popular team activity for our staff for many years. Our approach aims to increase our people’s environmental education, linking local volunteering activity to global environmental issues. This helps our volunteers to understand the value of natural capital and ecosystem services, and provides them with tips to support biodiversity at home.
We work closely with a range of partners - including The Conservation Volunteers, Earthwatch, Groundworks, the Marine Conservation Society, the RSPB, Trees for Cities, and the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust - to implement this approach across the UK. They support us in maximising the learning opportunities for our people, and the environmental impact of our approach.
Through this programme, our people are building a greater understanding of global sustainability issues relating to the Sustainable Development Goals for Climate action (Goal 13), Life on land (Goal 14) and Life below water (Goal 15); and are moving to more sustainable behaviours as a result.
Understanding the impacts that our community programmes are having is important to us. It means we can direct our resources and support towards those activities that have the greatest social impact. And, with growing interest in measuring the social value of business activity, there is increasing crossover between our community work and client work in the public and not-for-profit sectors. Over the years, we’ve moved beyond measuring only traditional ‘inputs’ (what we’ve spent), and more towards the ‘outputs’ (what we’ve done) and ‘outcomes’ (what has happened).
Measuring social impacts
We design our volunteering programmes to improve the business awareness, aspirations and networks of our beneficiaries, to give them confidence and the skills they need to succeed. To help us understand how well we’re achieving these goals, we survey the beneficiaries we work with. In 2017, 76% of students and social entrepreneurs told us they had gained skills which they felt were beneficial.
In 2015 we published a long term study of the social impact of Brigade - our joint venture social enterprise. We analysed the Social Return on Investment (SROI) generated over the first three years, and found that for every £1 invested, £1.57 of social value has been created.
We’ve also measured the impact that our environmental volunteering programme has on our people. We’ve published a case study showing how it has helped to raise our people’s awareness of global environmental issues, and encouraged behaviour change.
Measuring business impacts
As well as focusing on the social impact our programmes have, we also measure the business impacts. We survey our volunteers, to understand how they’ve been affected by their experiences. Our evidence shows that, following volunteering, our people increase their skills, engagement, networks and awareness, and over 70% tell us that they could not have developed in the same way through their day job. In turn, this contributes to our success in the marketplace. It’s been hugely powerful in conveying the business benefits of our volunteering programmes and has enabled us to link volunteering with our people’s personal development.