Deloitte – Taking the Credit

There are two kinds of people in the world“, Indira Gandhi’s grandfather once advised her, “those that do the work and those that take the credit. Try to be in the first group, there’s less competition“.

This weekend marks the anniversary of the death of a social business pioneer, who in a 1996 paper conceived a model of business for social purpose, then took it to Russia to source a development initiative lifting thousands out of poverty. I helped him introduce it to the UK in 2004 when we warned of the failure of capitalism and increasing risk of uprisings.

Though condolences came from those I’d networked with, the social enterprise media were notably silent .As can be seem from my comments, the news was deemed not suitable as a comment on a  Social Enterprise Magazine article.

Deloitte recently ran a competition to find 30 social business pioneers and since we’d demonstrated both replication and scaling to a national level with this original work it seemed entirely relevant to participate.

For the purpose of this competition social business means “those that are delivering exceptional impact, have a sustainable business model and have a real ambition to scale”.  Bob Thust, their director corporate responsibility say he want to be put out of a job.  Heads up, Bob.  You’re describing the business  for social purpose which is our IP.

There would appear to be confusion in what ‘social business means. To at least one part of  Deloitte, it’s the same kind of social media marketing as Salesforce refers to as “social enterprise”   This is quite different to how it’s defined by Linkedin and a group which has promoted this approach since 2008.   The social business pioneers would appear to better fit the latter.

I was soon informed that we failed to qualify, then realised I may well have offered too much information.

In a email exchange between Terry,  our founder and the British Council some months before his death he refers to what had been achieved in Russia, drawing attention to the role of PwC.and the use of our intellectual property.

“My first reaction to PwC’s entry was concern that the project would be like a USAID/Deloitte Touche project run in Tomsk circa 1997-8.  That program was to set up a microfinance program in Tomsk.  The project ran similarly to the current social enterprise effort has started in Ukraine with BC replacing USAID, and EEF as USAID’s representative via a new UK office.  Local personnel were hired and trained, the first crop of loan recipients went through a business orientation program, and the program ended.  That was due to no money available beyond that stage.  According to Tomsk locals, Deloitte Touche absorbed most of the funding in consulting fees.”

Though Deloitte may not have been aware of this letter, they’d certainly have been aware that the project in Tomsk had been a failure and that might well surface in any social business initiative that included us.

Social enterprise media and support organisations are disposed toward solidarity it seems, when issues such as the recent case of Salesforce’s attempt to trademark ‘social enterprise’ arise.  When it concerns someone outside their immediate circle however, the response is quite different, even if they die trying to ‘be the change’

Deloitte in their actions, not only disregard Henry Ford’s advice that you can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do but transcend it by trying to build a reputation on what others have done , by pushing the real pioneers out of the way.

Along with Terry go the thousands of vulnerable children, those he said, who deserved a loving family. Having influenced government policy on institutional childcare, he was trying to leverage impact investment funds to place all in family homes.

Deloitte should be truly ashamed of what they do in the name of social business, as should  Social Enterprise magazine who are now in full flow about the injustice  being done in the name of social enterprise by Salesforce.

A few months earlier, they’d requested a social report for SE 100 index, so I sent a description of our social impact.  It was never published.  According to their editor,  they ” want the world to know that social enterprises are robust businesses doing great work to change lives and communities for the better”.

Go figure.

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