Deloitte: supporting refugees through career conversations

Across the UK, Deloitte holds career conversations with displaced refugees, providing support and advice, building skills, and creating new pathways to employment.

Deloitte is a long-term member of Business in the Community (BITC). With over 20,000 employees based in offices across the UK, Deloitte’s people have a wide range of skills and experience. These cover both the technical aspects of its core business and wider attributes that are essential to employment, such as presentations, negotiation, interview skills and more. Working in partnership with BITC, Deloitte has established a successful programme of support for displaced refugees. It focuses on open career conversations to help people feel more connected to their new community, while building the confidence, knowledge, and skills required to gain and retain employment.

Working in partnership to change lives

BITC first piloted its ‘Careers Conversations’ programme in London in 2016. Initially, it provided language support to refugees for whom English is not a first language, focusing on language skills, grammar, and syntax. Facilitators then developed the programme to focus on providing a more holistic understanding of UK business norms and employment culture.

Since agreeing to support the programme by running trial sessions in 2019, volunteers at Deloitte’s Leeds office have supported hundreds of displaced persons. Working with BITC, and referral partner the World Jewish Relief Foundation, Deloitte employees now deliver a revised version of Careers Conversations. The current programme focuses on supporting clients’ understanding of how UK firms recruit people.

Refugees and asylum seekers often have unique skills and experiences that challenge stereotypical perceptions some may hold. “Since starting Careers Conversations, we’ve worked with people who speak five languages, qualified neurosurgeons and successful business owners who had lost premises and assets due to conflict,” says Jamie Shrivastava, BITC Employment Manager. Recognising the social and cultural barriers that can prevent people from accessing work in the UK, Jamie’s team worked with Deloitte to reposition Careers Conversations. The programme now focuses on unlocking opportunities and demystifying UK employment culture.

Real conversations that create brighter futures

To date, 50 relationships have been built between volunteer colleagues from Deloitte and clients. Pre COVID-19, rooms at Deloitte’s Leeds office were used to host sessions. These began with friendly introductions and led to a six-week relationship exploring people’s potential, developing employability skills, and helping people feel connected. Since the start of the pandemic, the team have pivoted to online delivery, making it scalable and deliverable independent of geography.

The benefits are felt by clients getting their first taste of UK employment culture, and also by Deloitte’s teams. Colleagues have responded positively to the opportunity to make an impact with their professional experience and build new understandings of the refugees’ situations.

Will Milner, Talent Advisor at Deloitte’s Leeds office and a Careers Conversations volunteer said: “When the chance to work on Career Conversations came up it seemed the perfect opportunity to use skills from my day job to help change the lives of refugees.” The time that is given by Will and his colleagues contributes to Deloitte’s 5 Million Futures initiative. This is the firm’s social impact ambition to make a positive impact on the lives of 5 million people across North and South Europe by 2030, through supporting access to education and employment.

It’s a pleasure and a privilege to be able to support BITC’s Career Conversations programme. Our people can use their skills and knowledge to make a difference and engage in a cause that is important to them by supporting refugees.

Helen Kaye, Partner Lead for Responsible Business for Deloitte’s Leeds office and Chair of
BITC’s Regional Leadership Team for Yorkshire & Humber

The programme has now been successfully rolled out to Yorkshire, Leicestershire, and other parts of the north of England. Thanks to Deloitte’s commitment to the programme, in partnership with BITC, it has now expanded to other regions helping more people uncover their potential. Career Conversations has also driven deeper engagement between BITC and Deloitte. There have been further developments in skills workshops designed to support hard-to-reach communities. Helen Kaye, Partner Lead for Responsible Business for Deloitte’s Leeds office and Chair of BITC’s Regional Leadership Team for Yorkshire & Humber said, “It’s a pleasure and a privilege to be able to support BITC’s Career Conversations programme. Our people can use their skills and knowledge to make a difference and engage in a cause that is important to them by supporting refugees.”

How your business can create fair and inclusive work

BITC can support your business to create impactful support for local communities, that contributes to creating fairer, more inclusive working environments and accessible career opportunities. Our Employment and Skills Team, and Advisers, can help you pioneer new ideas that bring career and development benefits to your teams, support the expansion of talent pools, and drive a more positive employee value proposition.

If you are a BITC member, contact your Relationship Manager to discuss how we can support your responsible business ambitions. Contact details for your Relationship Manager are available by logging into MyBITC.

If you are not a member of Business in the Community, contact our Advisory Services Team for more information.

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