Capital Region CATALYZE

Fresh Take ft. Kwasi Mitchell

December 06, 2021 Greater Washington Partnership
Fresh Take ft. Kwasi Mitchell
Capital Region CATALYZE
More Info
Capital Region CATALYZE
Fresh Take ft. Kwasi Mitchell
Dec 06, 2021
Greater Washington Partnership

This Fresh Take interview featured Kwasi Mitchell, Chief Purpose Officer, Deloitte Consulting LLP. JB and Kwasi discussed the Partnership’s recently released Inclusive Growth Preface Report, the role businesses have to play in powering inclusive growth across the Capital Region, and how to unleash purpose in our day-to-day work.

Hosted by JB Holston.  Produced by Jenna Klym, Justin Matheson-Turner, Christian Rodriguez, and Nina Sharma. Edited by Christian Rodriguez. 

Learn from leaders doing the work across the Capital Region and beyond. These conversations will showcase innovation, as well as history and culture across our region, to bridge the gap between how we got here and where we are going.

About our guest:

Kwasi Mitchell serves as the Chief Purpose Officer of Deloitte. He is responsible for driving a firmwide strategy around Deloitte’s commitments to areas including, but not limited to, diversity, equity, and inclusion; sustainability and climate change; and education and workforce development. Kwasi is also responsible for engaging our people to live their purpose daily, supporting our clients on their purpose journey, forming alliances with key partners to cocreate solutions to address systemic societal issues, and driving internal policy and process changes to achieve our purpose aspirations. Kwasi’s leadership will also bring focus to the lasting impact Deloitte works to bring to our communities through corporate citizenship.

Kwasi formerly served as the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion leader and the Pro Bono and Social Impact lead for our more-than-50,000-person Consulting practice. He currently advises clients within both the government and commercial sectors and previously served as the Strategy Offering leader for our Government & Public Services practice.

Kwasi has a PhD in inorganic chemistry, sits on the board of several national and global nonprofits, and lives in Washington, D.C., where he spends time with his lovely wife, Kathleen.

Show Notes Transcript

This Fresh Take interview featured Kwasi Mitchell, Chief Purpose Officer, Deloitte Consulting LLP. JB and Kwasi discussed the Partnership’s recently released Inclusive Growth Preface Report, the role businesses have to play in powering inclusive growth across the Capital Region, and how to unleash purpose in our day-to-day work.

Hosted by JB Holston.  Produced by Jenna Klym, Justin Matheson-Turner, Christian Rodriguez, and Nina Sharma. Edited by Christian Rodriguez. 

Learn from leaders doing the work across the Capital Region and beyond. These conversations will showcase innovation, as well as history and culture across our region, to bridge the gap between how we got here and where we are going.

About our guest:

Kwasi Mitchell serves as the Chief Purpose Officer of Deloitte. He is responsible for driving a firmwide strategy around Deloitte’s commitments to areas including, but not limited to, diversity, equity, and inclusion; sustainability and climate change; and education and workforce development. Kwasi is also responsible for engaging our people to live their purpose daily, supporting our clients on their purpose journey, forming alliances with key partners to cocreate solutions to address systemic societal issues, and driving internal policy and process changes to achieve our purpose aspirations. Kwasi’s leadership will also bring focus to the lasting impact Deloitte works to bring to our communities through corporate citizenship.

Kwasi formerly served as the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion leader and the Pro Bono and Social Impact lead for our more-than-50,000-person Consulting practice. He currently advises clients within both the government and commercial sectors and previously served as the Strategy Offering leader for our Government & Public Services practice.

Kwasi has a PhD in inorganic chemistry, sits on the board of several national and global nonprofits, and lives in Washington, D.C., where he spends time with his lovely wife, Kathleen.

Nina Sharma  0:04  
Welcome to fresh take a candid interview series featuring thought leaders and innovators from across the capital region. These one on one conversations, highlight the incredible work happening in our communities, and showcase both where we are and where we are going as a region.

JB Holston  0:24  
Kwasi thanks so much for joining us. This is our fresh take series where we talk to regional and national leaders on critical issues, both for the region and for organizations generally, and we couldn't be more delighted to have you in your role at Deloitte. Join us join us today. So thank you Kwasi.

Kwasi Mitchell  0:43  
No, it's a pleasure to be here, JB and I'm just so excited for the conversation today.

JB Holston  0:49  
Great, well, why don't we start by talking a little bit if you don't mind about your, your, the path that brought you to this, this role. It's not every PhD in chemistry that that ends up doing what you're doing.

Kwasi Mitchell  1:02  
And little did I know, when I was working in laboratories, you know, and getting my PhD that I would have the opportunity to become Deloitte first chief purpose officer. But really, my background really stems so much from that approach that in really my training. In graduate school, I was focused on things such as sustainability and alternative energy sources. I then progressed and I've used my passion for solving problems that took me into consulting in and of itself, and ultimately just followed so many things that were important to me and JB, I am one of nine children very humble upbringings and had the opportunity to participate in programs focused on mentorship, focused on things, it gave me an opportunity, truly to excel within schools, and then put me on the path that I'm on today. So when I joined Deloitte and had the opportunity to do things of that nature in a variety of different roles that I've had in the past, from leading our volunteerism and pro bono efforts to leading aspects of our business, such as our strategy practice within our overarching government, government practice, and ultimately stepping in previously in leading diversity, equity and inclusion for our consulting practice, they all just built and layered on top of each other to really form the role that I have today as chief purpose officer.

JB Holston  2:27  
Well, that's great. That's impressive. And, you know, you it'd be fun to talk a little bit more about now at that time. And then what took you to the PhD chemistry path as well. But let me let me pivot a little bit. And normally, I start this way, but I wanted to let people know a little bit about the journey that took you here, but your role as chief purpose officer, and I'm going to read this, but it says quazy is responsible for driving a firm wide strategy around Deloitte commitments to areas including, but not limited to diversity, equity and inclusion, sustainability and climate change, education and workforce development. And there's a clear emphasis on engaging Deloitte people to live their purpose daily as well, which is really inspiring breadth of responsibility, and a really huge breath of responsibility. Maybe you talk to us a little bit about how Deloitte decided that all of this should roll up into a chief purpose officer, which in itself is an interesting name for the role.

Kwasi Mitchell  3:36  
Yeah, it's it's an interesting name for the role. And I think my team has done a little bit of research, I believe there's probably 15 or so people across the fortune 500, who have a similar title. I think the real advantage of the role in how we evolved is that we noticed that we had made a number of external commitment and some things that are incredibly important to us, such as diversity, equity inclusion, such as climate change in sustainability, and also really focused on education and workforce development and creating pathways for others more broadly across our broader global firm. And with these commitments, it was it from a simplification standpoint, and also from the standpoint of being able to find areas where they are additive to each other, the purpose office in and of itself just makes a great deal of sense. So my my focus has really been on how do we bring together these efforts? How do we amplify our overarching approach? And and how do we make sure that like, we're being great citizens of the planet, while also being a phenomenal place for people to work and really have outstanding careers.

JB Holston  4:51  
Many of the organizations that do some what we hear let me phrase it this way. quazy is that organizations are still struggling with metrics. Next, you know, with the question of what is it that we really should measure? What should we report on? You know, BlackRock and other investment organizations have been pushing that, particularly around ESG. But you know, there's increasing efforts around diversity and inclusion as well. How do you think about metrics relative to that span of activity?

Kwasi Mitchell  5:17  
Exactly. I think there's two distinct parts of it, JB one is a little bit easier thing to measure, right. Like, we clearly if you think if you look at things such as last year, we we published our first ever Transparency Report around diversity, equity, inclusion, and really the progress that we've made as an organization. And we set forward some audacious goals with respect to represent representation overall. And also thinking through things such as how we use our purchasing power as an organization to support you know, black owned businesses and things of that nature. And those are things that we can measure that we can track, and really much of the much of the thinking went into what were appropriate goals for us a set that were both ambitious, and, and also impactful. The other thing that I think that we're doing now, that is a little bit more challenging is how we talk about the great work that's taking place within the greater Washington partnership, that when you pull so many different organizations together, and you're trying to have impact on a broader community, that there's so many different levers, so many different elements that are involved in it, it does become a little bit more of a challenge with respect to measuring the impact. So that's a piece that I think many of us are still thinking through from the standpoint of how do we know that the phenomenal things in all of the effort that we're putting forward are driving substantive outcomes? And I think that the work that we have to put in there to be smart about what those metrics are, is a work in progress and will continue to be so over the next number of months to years.

JB Holston  6:53  
Yeah, well, that's a, that's a good a good segue to the work that we've done with your organization around inclusive growth, which is the, you know, the, the frame that we've chosen to talk about the work that we're doing, generally. And for those of you don't know, and Jana, maybe we can drop into the chat a link to the preface report that was just published last week that you folks helped helped us develop. But one of the goals of that work was to begin to form a consensus as much as you can, across diverse organizations in constituencies about not just the importance of inclusion as foundational to growth in the economy, which is kind of the thesis, but also what we you know, what are the components? What are the things that we need to be doing? What are the areas where the work needs to needs to go? And so, you folks have been absolutely critical in our ability to, to progress that work as you have been critical, I will, I will boast on you a little bit here. You know, Deloitte has been an extraordinary partner to the partnership by every measure, and much, much appreciated. But the detailed work you've done in helping us understand what those elements are, to your point about the breadth of your portfolio, all of that's in there to some degree, you know, we got workforce is a critical pillar. Yeah. Right. But it is it is hard, because, you know, we're trying to get everyone to agree that inclusive growth is sort of Northstar for efforts. And it's very long term, you know. So, on that front, one of the things that we talked about, I'd love to get your thoughts on this is closing the equity gap, the wealth equity gap over time, because some elements of the reason have done a pretty good job closing the income gap, but there's still just a huge disparity on wealth. And really, until that, that gap closes it. And a lot of that has to do with creating the right pathway. So the right kind of career, jobs, etc. But you folks are obviously in a very specific position with your own employees. You create career jobs for everyone, I would argue, but you have, what are some of the things that you've done as an organization? Obviously, the support of our work is really critical, but what are some of the other things that you've done to support this? This general objective?

Kwasi Mitchell  9:23  
Yeah, and it's, it's a, it's such a challenging problem. And I I do appreciate that. We have a lot of great organizations that are teaming up together to think about these items, right. Like, when I think of different aspects of that equity gap, and particularly aspects of the wealth gap. There's a few distinct levers that we have been heavily focused on one which I mentioned already, just using our spending power to focus that on communities and populations that historically have been under invested in right and, you know, in we have very audacious goals there just to be more thought on how we use our wealth, our spending power in enable those particular communities. Another key lever is efforts that we've been involved with on really thinking about how we elevate more people of color, into boardrooms around the country. Right? Like, if we're really thoughtful about how you close and in my mind how you close different aspects of that wealth gap. It's by having people who were sitting in the boardroom, right, being able to speak to their experience and shape policies for things that might not be overly transparent to others that are there. I also think about the way that we're really focused on our employees, as you just pointed out, as well, JB in and how all aspects of career growth and development is equitable, and provides pathways for people to find the careers within our organization, the bidding, the fitting of their skills, and also of their passions. So those are just three distinct items that I'm really, really excited about.

JB Holston  11:06  
That's great. Let's talk a bit more about employees in particular, crazy, and I know, purpose and the notion of everyone centering. These are my, my words but centering purpose as what they do, and you know, as fundamental to their work. Yeah, some would argue that that's, that that is not a great way to attract new employees, because they're going to be cynical about it. Others would say, well, that is exactly the best way to attract new employees, because it's a new generation, where what are you finding, as you as you do the work to really get folks to feel comfortable with purpose is central to their work.

Kwasi Mitchell  11:49  
It's, it's really fascinating, because I spend most of my time talking about purpose to our professionals who have been with the firm for less than 10 years, and are professionals who are about 10 years out from retirement. And both of them coming at it from two very different perspective, but that are complementary, right? Like, our, our less than you professionals are very focused on having the firm reflect values that matter to them, and work that's meaningful. And that's phenomenal. Like you should, if you if we think about work, and we're going to direct our time and our talents towards an organization, you naturally want to be in an organization where you have shared values, and that you think is going to be a positive influence on the world. And then you have our professionals who are, you know, like I said, about 10 years out from retirement, and they're very focused on having the organization be left in a substantially better place than when they joined it. And so it's, it's this really nice mix between people who are like, I have great experience, I am long tenured, and I have some ideas that can help us advance our overarching organization, and you have this influx of, I would say, youth talent and expectations that are really pushing us forward as well. Both of them work very, very well for trying to think through the path that we would like to be on with respect to purpose overall.

JB Holston  13:18  
A couple of other questions about that, you know, back in the old PC days, when the PC was just starting as a tool, you saw a lot of what I would call sort of reverse mentoring, like, you know, the senior exec would have the person who really understood all about PCs, you know, at his or her side to sort of say, well, look, just press that button, and it'll be okay. And I'm wondering, you know, do you see an opportunity for for that kind of construct sort of the reverse mentoring, where you've got, you know, another generation coming in and just fundamentally does value and has experience understanding how to live with purpose, one might argue, even if they're young, matched with some of those that have more experienced but aren't, don't necessarily know how to move forward?

Kwasi Mitchell  14:02  
Well, it's interesting, because I feel like more often than not, if we give people a good playbook, and we were very tactical with our expectations around purpose in the environment, and the impact that we're trying to drive, people get on board. And so JB, I definitely think to your point, there's opportunities for reverse mentoring, we've considered programs of that nature in a variety different areas. The other piece that I think is most important is like, we should never underestimate being prescriptive in our expectations, and also, the behaviors that we want people to, to really, I would say, depict on a daily basis. And I have found that with something like purpose, what really impedes people from participating is not knowing what to do, rather than them not believing in it. Right. And, and it's been so much of the dialogue on topics such as diversity, equity and inclusion where it's, you have people who are well meaning to we're trying to figure How they can be part of the like the solution. And after you start breaking down, like, here's, I want you to spend 15 minutes a week doing this, and then a half an hour week doing that, or focus your attention in these areas, you generally find people in my experience, like 99% of them fall into line and really get behind the direction. And because they believe it's the right thing to do.

JB Holston  15:23  
Yeah, it's interesting, you know, this morning, I know this a little orthogonal to the topic. And and I don't want to get down to political rant, but just wanting United announced that 98% of their employees are now vaccinated. And, you know, they were one of the first and certainly the first airline to say, we're going to, we're going to be prescriptive about that, we're going to tell people that you've got to do it. And that was time very contentious. There was a lot of concern, there was a fear about turnover, etc. And here we are a few weeks later, and folks are like, Yeah, you know, I get it. 

Kwasi Mitchell  15:52  
Determining the things on when you are prescriptive and directive on items such as purpose, right, like, you know, recently we we received a fair amount of press for rolling out a distinct training globally on climate change, right? And thinking through how when do we want to mandate This is obligatory for everyone in comparison to times that we want to create a groundswell of attention around things and knowing that people believe in it, and all have optic, and, and balancing those different types of perspectives come into play with all aspects of purpose from my mind. I, I think if we tell people, this is exactly how you're going to live your purpose on a daily basis, and you are going to do this and it's mandatory, it's a good way to lose people to some of your earlier points. But from the standpoint of being thoughtful, and meeting people where they are on their journey, is an item that I think other people in my specific role are thinking through on a daily basis as they move their organizations forward on these particular paths.

JB Holston  16:59  
Yeah, if you think about your portfolio equation, are these are these issues still contentious?

Kwasi Mitchell  17:05  
I think that we live in an environment right now that so many things are polarizing, that items that in a different time, didn't seem like they would necessarily be contentious, but they are right, we have to be in part of my responsibilities as being thoughtful on how we use our voice on specific, you know, either political or social stances, and really making sure that we're using our voice on items that we can meaningful influence that that are core to our shared values. So unfortunately, I do think that there's a number of items that remain, quote, unquote, political or polarized that in different times, you know, would not have been so and so we just need to be thoughtful in how we engage and drive that dialogue forward so that we're inviting people in, rather than, like being firmly entrenched in corners and not trying to be part of the overarching solution.

JB Holston  18:04  
Yeah, it does seem like businesses have had an opportunity to move everyone toward agreeing to do things in areas that externally look very contentious. Without all the contention and it just it does seem like business organizations are uniquely positioned in the society right now to, you know, to be a kind of a trusted partner for people on those journeys.

Kwasi Mitchell  18:31  
I couldn't agree more, right. I mean, if you think about and even some of the work that we've done, it's an organization around the topic of trust, and really thinking through the unique role that businesses and particularly businesses that are known for being purpose driven, and also being known for being thoughtful and trustworthy, right, they have an outs, you know, an outsize impact I feel overall, in in the world in which we live, currently.

JB Holston  19:00  
The organization's known for making some big for lack of a better term sort of marquee investments in categories of work to, to drive purpose forward. If you think about that, maybe talk about some of the other obviously, your work with us has been really critical for this region and trying to generate, really, I would call sort of a movement across organizations toward purpose broadly, broadly writ? And again, very helpful. What are some of the other categories? What are some of the other investments that that you might highlight for folks that you folks have made or are making that you found to be particularly useful?

Kwasi Mitchell  19:35  
Yeah, one that I'm particularly proud of is earlier this year, we did launch health equity Institute. And that particular institute is heavily focused on driving, you know, or reducing some of the inequities that we see across distinct populations that have played out in a very transparent and horrific fashion over the course of the past. Demmick and phenomenal team there that's looking at how we assemble distinct people coming together within communities and formulating solutions for the greater Washington area, New York, etc, that are focused on bringing together academics, businesses, nonprofits, so that we have a bit of a virtuous cycle and are bringing all of those players to the table on such an important issue. Another item that I am very, very proud of our leaders within our business and specifically work that's taking place within our overarching Deloitte Foundation, which is a charitable organization around what we've dubbed made, which stands for making accounting diverse and equitable. And it's a $75 million commitment to really reshape, you know, the the demographics of the accounting profession, which is clearly core to our roots as an organization, and such an important aspect for going forward. So those are two between the health equity Institute and also made two items that we move forward this year, in a very accelerated fashion, because we felt like there's the time was now to be bold in these specific areas, as we were living out different aspects of the pandemic, and seeing how we can emerge from it stronger and having an impact that provides more opportunities for people in the future.

JB Holston  21:31  
Well, that's great. Let's talk a little bit more about how you get other organizations engaged in the work in those two initiatives. Cuz you know, as we know, given our role that can be complicated, and but maybe talk first about the health equity Institute, how you mentioned a variety of kinds of constituents that are connected to that, how do they connect to it?

Kwasi Mitchell  21:52  
Yeah, well, it's it's funny, I mean, a lot of it, we we've leveraged a lot of the connections that we've formed here with the greater Washington partnership, right? Like you have fundamentally assembled such a outstanding group of organizations that are able to interact with each other in a very organic fashion, learn from each other, and move forward on initiatives in a very seamless fashion, that I feel like just play pays dividends, multiples over. So for us, it's always been going back to you know, our clients, it's been going back to peers within specific localities, such as you know, the greater Washington partnership. It's also being thoughtful in how we engage nonprofits and specific organizations, right. And we've had a long standing relationship with new profit, for example, and looking at this new nonprofits and organizations that nature that we should be investing in that we bring together to solve some of these complex problems. Because as you know, JB, when you think about aspects of inclusive growth, right, it's such a large challenge that no individual organization is going to be able to do that without support from other large corporations, bringing in the government bringing in the nonprofit community, and really tailoring solutions for a specific locality. It's the problems that we're dealing with, they're just such a met so immense that like, I feel like what we've created with the greater Washington partnership is phenomenal.

JB Holston  23:18  
Yeah, I appreciate that. And I, you know, I'm obviously I'm biased, because I'm here doing this work. But I think you're right, it's really unique. And hopefully a model that other areas around the country will adopt because, you know, the serendipity and the pace at which best practices are disseminated and amplified, etc. Is, is really powerful. We're fighting for organizations and for collective community change.

Kwasi Mitchell  23:45  
In JB, I feel that that's something that we've really seen evolve over the last several years is that collection of organizations coming together to make an impact, rather than people trying to do it on their own, like, the challenges in front of us on some of these topics, such as sustainability, right? Like, no singular organization is going to make that change, right? Like, it's going to be us thinking about what are solutions that we could apply within specific localities to really have an impact so that we're driving it home on a person by person basis, to really make the movements that we need to do and I do think that this is definitely a model that we'll see to continue to be emulated and other and other places. Yeah.

JB Holston  24:28  
You mentioned at the outset that there are something like 15 of the Fortune, and I forgot whether it was 100 or 500. But it probably doesn't make a difference that actually have someone in a role like yours. It was called the chief purpose officer. Why do you think more organizations don't have that? And do you think it's just a matter of time?

Kwasi Mitchell  24:47  
I think it's definitely a matter of time. A lot of the conversations that I have in particularly as organizations are thinking about their specific journey associated with purpose and how they embedded into all aspects of the organization. They it's generally responsibilities held across the C suite, you know, you'll see, Chief Human Resources Officer, you'll see a Chief Sustainability Officer, you'll find the deputy of the CEO, all have these distinct roles and responsibilities that just haven't culminated in a singular person owning purpose as of yet. But I do think that that will continue to evolve as people determine the path that they're on how they'd like to pursue it. And really making things simplified and embedded into all aspects of the organization. I do not think it's a fad, I believe that this is something that is definitively here to say, and if anything, like looking at just different aspects, so how when organizations are known to be purpose driven, how it leads to increased innovation, how it leads to increase retention of staff, how it leads to increase growth, all of those things just play together. But I feel organizations will have an understanding that in the future, having a chief purpose officer or whatever they choose to call it with equivalent responsibilities, is going to be fundamental to the business thriving overall.

JB Holston  26:15  
If you if you were asked by another large organization that hasn't yet done it, what they should do first, if they're thinking about moving toward this, what would what would you tell them to do?

Kwasi Mitchell  26:28  
Two things, one, understand your strengths, right? Because I feel particularly as you're thinking about larger organizations who have scale and size, particularly of an organization such as ours, determining what are the two to three strengths, that if you lean in on those specific areas and apply your strengths, he just has an overwhelmingly positive, like impact. The other item, I would say, pick your priorities. Right. And it's very JB, you see this all the time, when you think about the news cycle today, and you think about some of the large challenges that like the that are present within the world writ large. An organization shouldn't try to tackle all right, and finding what are those two to three to four items that are priorities that are going to be the Northstars for the organization that you're truly going to lean in on is, is really create key. So it's, it's those two items, know your strengths, determine your priorities. And for us, our priorities have been in the areas of diversity, equity, inclusion in the areas of sustainability, and, and also really thinking about how we train the workforce of the future. And so with those types of aspects at play, that's really the beginning of the journey, and then everything cascades from there.

JB Holston  27:46  
Yeah. Let's talk about smaller organizations. You know, one of the classic story of smaller, fast growing even unicorn organizations is that they just tend to, to lag oftentimes on anything that sounds like it has to do sometimes with just the fundamental health of a organization. Because they're, you know, they're very much about product and selling and all that. If you think about organizations that you know, that are smaller, that are moving fast, and maybe be in a high growth rate, etc. How would you advise them with respect to this question of chief purpose officer?

Kwasi Mitchell  28:24  
Yeah, it's a great question. And especially like you have fast, you have organizations that are smaller, that are growing quickly, and their focus is growth, right. And I think more so as they think about purpose. It really is being thoughtful, with a smaller organization, you defining your purpose, and embedding it into different aspects of how you operate on a daily basis is substantially easier than 100,000 Plus person organizations such as our US firm, right, and there's minor muscle movements and minor things of that nature that have an outsized impact that when you are, in fact, 50 people is relatively more straightforward to do, and just cascades for going forward for when you're 50,000 people. So just be mindful of those types of items. It doesn't doesn't mean that you need to designate a chief purpose officer out of the gate, not necessarily, does it mean that you should be thoughtful on the impact that you have in society more broadly, that you should be thoughtful of how your policies are creating, you know, family sustaining careers for your employees, how you use your purchasing power and your spend. There are nuances of that nature that are much easier to do while you're smaller, and will have outsized impact as you continue to grow.

JB Holston  29:42  
Are you aware of any academic institutions that have adopted a chief purpose officer model?

Kwasi Mitchell  29:48  
I know that there are a number of distinct academics you know, that have long been talking about purpose in the topic overall, in many out there who are doing phenomenal work, right And so that being said, I wouldn't say that there's a distinct academic institution that I know of that has a chief purpose officer construct similar to what we have ourselves. But I've been engaged with conversations with great academic organizations, in fact, some here in the Washington, DC area, who are being thoughtful on what purpose means to their students, and really how they want to structure things in such a way that they can live their purpose at school. And so, in fact, Devi had a conversation with several academics, about a month or so ago, that was just really refreshing, listening to how you define purpose in an academic environment, and have, you know, the students that would lead that organization graduate, and then enter into, like, their careers, bring what they learned at their university, to their employers, and just have that continue to cascade from moving forward.

JB Holston  31:02  
Yes, interesting. Lots of that, arguably, the academic institutions were earlier and adopting chief diversity officers, as a lot of businesses, and yet a lot of them still struggle with, with the quest that that as a, it'd be interesting to think about whether it would be an opportunity for academic institutions to say, look, let's, we have a broader set of issues that we want to roll together here to your point, around purpose, and you might give them more scale to have impact around those critical issues, then they're finding when they try to segment because most of them just can't afford to have chief diversity and chief sustainability and chief etc, etc.

Kwasi Mitchell  31:41  
Yeah, the segmentation is a challenge. Right. And, and I, I completely agree with you, and even with respect to, like, you get to the private sector like and having that segmentation of roles and responsibilities, and I feel that's what limits people from having impact at scale. Right, and, and aspects of how you either bring that together centralized in some way, shape or form, so that you have, you know, like, in my example, a person responsible for helping to say these are great ideas that have grown in up in a particular part of the practice or that a particular person is brought forward? How do we amplify that scale that and have an even broader impact on the lives of citizens around the world?

JB Holston  32:23  
Do you have something like a chief purpose counsel, internally?

Kwasi Mitchell  32:27  
We have a few things that we're working through, there's so many different aspects that are that rely upon purpose, right. So we do have a broader working group that focuses on items such as how we think through our clients and services that we provide, right and, and just being thoughtful from the standpoint of like, let's make sure that we are in company with great clients, they're out there, and that we're servicing them in the best possible ways, right, and knowing that as the world evolves, that we remain vigilant and ahead of any potential items that would unfold rapidly within a particular news cycle, I would say I have a number of like, unofficial counsel, that they know that they're part of a broader Council now, from leaders of our business, from leaders, within different parts of our government relations teams, leaders within communications, and so on, and so forth. Because it truly does take a village to be thoughtful on all aspects. So how we've defined purpose as an organization, and really, how we navigate some of the distinct nuances that so many organizations are right now, thinking about the broader political and social environment and expectations of our people of our clients, and, and then just society writ large.

JB Holston  33:50  
Yeah, it does the work. And I will stop asking you about your internal work. But it's really helpful if I want people to hear because you folks really are innovating, but obviously, Deloitte, US is an entity of its own. And then of course, you've got global partners around the world. How do you how do you? How do you talk globally about purpose? Or do you yet is it something that's working you're working on here, and then you might see expand?

Kwasi Mitchell  34:16  
Oh, we do have a global chief people officer who really runs purpose and coordinate their activities across our member firms. We have a series of working groups, right, that are focused on advancing aspects of this together. So it's really it's quite collaborative, right. And, you know, it's just, it's so fun hopping and or, for me, it's fun. And I just think it's fascinating. Being part of these working groups. It's like how do we, how do we think about climate within the US and how does that apply to Europe? And then when we think about our member firms, and that might be smaller countries in different parts of the world and bring that all together? It is it's a little bit like Model UN, right? It's like, but it is, it's such, it's such an amazing opportunity to have an impact at a global scale and learn from each other. And I think that we're getting even better with each passing month, the advancing purpose more broadly across all of our member firms.

JB Holston  35:23  
Let's talk about the region. Again. And I'm correct. You grew up in the areas is that right?

Kwasi Mitchell  35:30  
I've been here for, I think, going on 20 years. So it feels like home for me now, or I refer to it as home more so than anything else.

JB Holston  35:39  
If you think about the arc of the region over that time, and you think about inclusion and inclusive growth and purpose generally, how would you characterize progress in the region? What's what Where have you seen progress? And where do you think there's still work to be done?

Kwasi Mitchell  35:54  
Yeah, it's, it's a, it's an interesting question in in JB, like, especially for those who have been here for like, two, three decades, but we've seen the, in Washington DC is a phenomenal city that I I love dearly, but we have seen there be growth that has not necessarily always been inclusive. Right. And, in particular, which is why I love the work of the partnership that like we, we've seen, many, many in this area become more prosperous. And I think it's important for us to think about aspects such as education, and Skilling and rescaling such as health, right, and if we are being equitable, and providing the opportunities for all in those areas, I perpetually, you know, I live in the Navy Yard in DC. So I'm always thoughtful, just about, like affordable housing for all, and things of that nature. And so, net net, I do think that, like the growth that we've experienced as a region is is phenomenal. And I think that we have an important role to play in making sure that it's inclusive for going forward. And and having that rising tide benefit all.

JB Holston  37:07  
Yeah, yeah, there's no question there's, there's a lot of work ahead. And I think part of what we've sought to do with your help in the blueprint, and the dashboard is just hold ourselves accountable for, for, for what that work needs to be, and to see that the work is getting done. And as you've said, this is clearly it's great to have leaders like yourself and your organization leading the way but all they have to participate, if we're truly going to have an impact, it's going to have to be collective.

Kwasi Mitchell  37:34  
Exactly. And everyone has a piece to bring to the table, right like, which is what has me so excited about the partnership overall. And its continued growth, because there's so many different items that collectively will require a skill set from a variety of different corporations, that it's incredibly exciting. And I think that all of the participants, and as we continue to grow, we'll see that way for them to engage and really drive impact at a broad scale. 

JB Holston  38:02  
Yeah, I agree. I think it's really it's a really unique moment in time. And do it helps to have alignment with the federal government as well, around these purposes to you, we we've communicated to our friends in the federal government, how much this group can help me kind of a beta site for some of the great things that they're that they're looking to do. And an amplifier of a lot of those great things as well. And but it will take a lot of selfless collective effort to ensure that we don't drift toward away from the purpose.

Kwasi Mitchell  38:37  
Yeah, exactly. Exactly.

JB Holston  38:40  
Kwasi, last question for me. And as is always the case with these as time goes by which too quickly, but if you could, if you could wave a magic wand to make Deloitte the most purpose driven organization, five years from now, in the world, maybe it's already there. But what what what how would it be different than versus how it is now?

Kwasi Mitchell  39:00  
I honestly feel that we would have distinct investments and participation and partnerships such as the greater Washington partnership throughout the country. I feel like there are certain challenges that we're facing are regionalize. And they're inherently local. So having a collection of phenomenal employers across 10 to 15 different cities around the US that are working on improving their region, and propelling everyone forward towards inclusive growth. Being part of that and shaping that would make me feel very, very comfortable that we've had an impact befitting of our size and reputation as an organization.

JB Holston  39:47  
It reminds me a little bit of a conversation I had a few years ago with the then CIO for the United States, Megan Smith, about the sustainable development goals and the work she was doing at the UN around those and she made the observation that really if we're going to achieve them is going to have to be from the grasstops up, you know, this is not just going to be large companies, it's tighter. And that if you had regional groups like this particularly center and national capitals around the world that could help accelerate the adoption of purpose across all the constituent sets, we would do so much more so much more quickly toward achieving goals, like the Sustainable Development Goals.

Kwasi Mitchell  40:21  
Exactly. I completely agree, JB and, and, and there's nuances to this the things that we're trying to solve depending upon the region.

JB Holston  40:30  
Well, crazy, it's been great to talk with you, my guess has been Kwasi Mitchell, the chief purpose officer for Deloitte, who I just want to reiterate to folks quazy as well, because it is pretty unique and something that I think we're going to see more emulate responsible for driving a firm wide strategy around Deloitte commitments to areas including but not limited to diversity, equity and inclusion, sustainability and climate change, and education and workforce development. You know, you've been a terrific partner for the partnership crazy, and we appreciate that we will be selfless and encourage that for others around the world. We want to take advantage of it. But I wanted to thank you for your time and your commitment to purpose and sharing your insights with us today.

Kwasi Mitchell  41:15  
No, thank you so much, JB, it's been a pleasure.

Nina Sharma  41:19  
Thanks for tuning into fresh take. This episode was produced by Jenna climb, Christian Rodriguez, Nina Sharma and Justin Mathis and Turner. If you liked what you heard, share it with your network. For more information and to access all of our podcasts, events and publications, visit Greater Washington