The Freedom From Fear Fund aims to support education projects working to address gender-based violence, while also supporting victims/survivors and their families through innovative service provision.
We sat down with Melissa Scully, Director at Deloitte Ireland to find out more about their decision to contribute to, and become Founding Partners of, the Freedom From Fear Fund.
Hi Melissa, it’s great to speak with you, thanks for allowing us the opportunity to talk today. Why is it important to Deloitte to support the Freedom From Fear Fund?
The Freedom Fund has a clear vision to support a more equal and sustainable Ireland. As a firm this aligns closely with our purpose, to make an impact that matters for our people, clients, society and planet. It’s approach to addressing gender based violence starts with a proactive approach to changing the underlying behaviours that drive such actions. This type of violence impacts too many women across the country and we welcome the opportunity to support such an important cause.
How does this align with Deloitte’s core values?
There are various Deloitte values the fund aligns closely with – take care of each other, foster inclusion and collaborate for measurable impact. We strive to make an impact that matters, and believe contributing to the Freedom Fund will help further efforts in reducing gender-based violence and other related issues.
What do you think it means to be courageous in business?
To me personally it means using your leadership position to speak out and take bold moves, including in situations where it means challenging the standard norms. It also means taking calculated risks and seeking to create opportunities in the face of adversity and uncertainty.
Was there a key moment which moved Deloitte from awareness to action on gender equality issues?
Gender equality has long been on our diversity and inclusion agenda. That said, like many businesses we recognised the pace of change was not happening fast enough and in the past two years, with the leadership of our Executive, we have increased our efforts and actions across the business to tackle gender equality issues. Examples include appointing an executive sponsor, having focused efforts and targets for attraction and retention, and early and extensive reporting on the gender pay gap.
What are some of the things you are doing to achieve gender balance in Deloitte?
We are tackling gender balance in a number of ways. Firstly, it is a topic that is on the agenda at the executive and has clear metrics in place so we can monitor progress and hold ourselves accountable. Secondly, our People and Purpose team have introduced new policies in the areas of IVF/ fertility, foster care/ surrogacy, miscarriage, domestic abuse and refreshed flexible working and dress code policies. We have also created dedicated programs such as our female sponsorship and Return to Work programme and embedded specific D&I learnings in our plans. Additionally, we have established an employee-led Gender Balance Network that aims to drive awareness, discussions and support the role out of new initiatives. This includes setting up various forums and running events on topic areas, such as gender based violence.
How has that changed the way you operate as a company?
As a starting point it has shifted thinking and is creating different conversations. At all stages of our talent lifecycle we consider gender balance. It has resulted in more balanced appointments including at Partner level (noting we have further progress to make in this space). For employees I hope that it has also led to more flexibility, better supports available, a more positive employee experience and fairer opportunities for all.
How has that change been felt within the wider company and by your clients?
We’ve all heard the saying ‘you have to see it to be it’. As a starting point, more gender balanced leadership and teams helps us encourage and develop the next generation of female talent. There are also many studies suggesting that better balanced teams drive business performance and promote innovation, which I believe true from my own experience. For our clients, positive change has stemmed by having more balanced teams – for many clients there is an expectation that we will incorporate diversity and inclusion into our team and engagement structure.
Do you have any advice for others like you who may be considering joining us on the Freedom From Fear Fund?
My advice is do it!! We recently had two high profile cases of gender-based violence in the media here in Ireland, both of which had a clear link to the victims workplace. In one case, the victim sought help from her employer and in another, a colleague reported another following concerns. This highlights the important position employers play in tackling gender based violence and supporting employees when they need it.
For more information on the Freedom From Fear Fund and ways to get involved, please get in touch at: firstname.lastname@example.org