Impact that Matters

Using learning to deliver value inside and outside of your organization.

For most chief learning officers (CLOs) and Learning & Development (L&D) professionals, making an impact on the broader community outside of their organization probably doesn’t make the list of top priorities. Most are grappling with the typical challenges of meeting lofty goals with a limited budget, producing talent with the right skills to meet organizational needs, and delivering value and impact to the business. But for Deloitte, making an impact and developing future leaders has proven to be a winning combination and one that has enabled us to deliver value both inside and outside of our firm.

Today’s workforce—especially Millennials—is socially minded and motivated to make an impact that matters, and these attributes are at the core of the Deloitte culture. Our commitment to servant leadership has been demonstrated in many ways, from how our leaders work alongside socioeconomic policymakers to the more than 1 million volunteer and pro bono hours provided by our professionals last year alone. Our culture of purpose also permeates our learning strategy and shapes how we approach the development of all people, not just our own. By sharing our curriculum outside of the firm and leveraging the knowledge capital of our people to solve social issues, we have both used our resources for good and improved the learning experience of our professionals in the process.


Deloitte believes the commitment to development fuels performance, yields exciting opportunities for our people, and translates into greater value for our clients. Similarly, we are committed to empowering and strengthening leaders among some of the most important communities—our veterans and educators—by sharing our proven development approaches and leader development curriculum.

In support of the White House’s Joining Forces initiative, Deloitte created the Career Opportunity Redefinition and Exploration (CORE) Leadership Program, a three-day intensive personal development program at Deloitte University for veterans looking for employment in both the public and private sectors. Leveraging our award-winning leadership curriculum and strengths-based development approach, CORE enables participants to identify their unique strengths and experiences to define their personal brand, leverage career exploration and networking strategies, and tell their story in a way that resonates with potential employers. Since 2013, more than 600 veterans and service members have participated, with 100 percent of participants agreeing that the program was a valuable use of time. As of November 2016, 94 percent of those seeking employment have found a job.

We also created a development program for public school principals designed to improve the effectiveness of school systems and create stronger leaders for tomorrow. As student performance is strongly influenced by a school principal’s leadership abilities, Courageous Principals—From Insight to Action draws from Deloitte’s robust leader development curriculum with a focus on relationship building, communication, and influence. Principals from school systems across the country are immersed in an intensive, highly interactive two-and-a-half-day program geared to enhancing their leadership skills. Frameworks and methods are applied to the principals’ own real-time challenges, enabling them to come away with an action plan and a tool kit focused on growing productive relationships, communicating effectively, and building communities of support. And the impact of the program extends beyond just the attending principals, as they share what they learn with their community of teachers, creating a ripple effect of leadership into the school community.

Today’s workforce has a desire to give back, and the CORE and Courageous Principals programs tap into this by enabling our own people—who serve as facilitators for these programs—to contribute to society and walk away humbled and inspired. These shared experiences help Deloitte professionals become stronger, more purpose-driven leaders.


We also have designed our internal learning programs to enable Deloitte professionals to make an impact on their communities while simultaneously building valuable core consulting knowledge and skills. Allowing our talent to give back and develop critical capabilities at the same time has dramatically increased learner engagement, capability development, and learning transfer.

Our Wicked Problems program is a great example of how our talent innovates in the social sphere. Wicked Problems employs design thinking and the collective brainpower of our people to crowd-source creative ideas to tackle the world’s most vexing and complicated social issues—hunger, poverty, and mental health, to name a few. Many of our top learning programs incorporate a Wicked Problems module into their agendas, enabling the development of empathy-based, creative problem-solving skills while at the same time helping to advance change. Recently, more than 1,000 Deloitte professionals contributed ideas to address the latest Wicked Problems campaign on mental health. The campaign was developed in collaboration with Mental Health America & the National Alliance of Mental Illness, and learner outputs will be shared with them to help work toward a solution.

Traditional, simulation-based learning programs also have been updated to reflect our culture of purpose. When redesigning our Consultant Training Program (CTP)—a milestone program for newly promoted Consultants—we saw an opportunity to integrate the development of our people with community impact. Through collaboration with a nonprofit organization struggling with a real, strategic challenge, we designed a learning experience through which participants can hone their craft while also contributing to a worthwhile cause.

Instead of working through a simulated project with a fictitious client, CTP learners identify the nonprofit’s actual issues and needs and then develop recommended solutions that are shared with the organization. They simultaneously practice the core consulting skills needed to be successful at their level, gathering information through real client meetings and networking events, working in teams to analyze data and develop recommendations, and presenting directly to the organization’s co-founders and leadership team, who provide immediate feedback in a boardroom setting. The tie to social impact and the opportunity to work with the leaders of a nonprofit creates a real, observable difference in learner engagement and the quality of output provided.


Leveraging your learning programs to help advance social change is possible no matter the size of your organization or the scale of your Learning function. So how can you deliver community impact through your Learning function?

  • Understand your organization’s values, core strengths, and community—what do you have to offer and to whom?
  • Consider the scale and scope of what your Learning function can realistically champion— where could you have an impact and how?
  • Tap into your people’s commitment to purpose and service, and leverage that passion to engage learners in innovative and dynamic learning experiences that make a difference in their communities.
  • Build the business case for dual-impact learning —within your organization and across the benefiting communities.
  • Consider partnering with other organizations to multiply the impact and extend the reach. There’s no such thing as competition in doing good—progress relies on collaboration.
  • Measure the impact—both internally and externally. Not only will it allow you to speak, in real terms, to the value of the initiative, it also will help create the business case for future investments.

While the traditional challenges of talent development roles won’t disappear, adding a culture of impact to your Learning organization’s list of priorities might just help in making them more achievable—and that’s a challenge we can all feel good about.

Jessica Bargon is Talent Development manager at Deloitte, a Training Top 10 Hall of Fame organization.