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Deloitte pioneers business simulation to help HR directors accelerate CSR and sustainability initiatives

Deloitte is pioneering a business simulation that aims to help HRDs accelerate the implementation of corporate responsibility and sustainability. The game enables companies to experiment with a realistic model of their company and its potential future scenarios.

According to Deloitte, playing the game will enable participants to learn how to balance the qualitative and quantitative dimensions of people, planet and profit within the context of their business enterprise. In lay terms, employees - whether they are at C-Suite level or on the frontline - can use the game to identify, understand and work with corporate responsibility and sustainability activities that add value to the organisation.

During the game, employees make decisions about CR and sustainability and are presented with the impacts. Typically, players go through several business cycles, enabling them to assess the consequences of their actions in short to long term scenarios. Learning and development is focused on gaining insight into the complexities of CR and sustainability, and the competencies required to manage the associated risks. Over time, by playing the game, employees are trained to be more aware of risks and opportunities, and, it's hoped, be more inclined to transfer insights and knowledge between each other - a goal for any organisation as it seeks to build high performing teams in corporate responsibility and sustainability.

The game deals with the challenges of CR and sustainability strategy, developing and implementing a programme in a coordinated way, managing processes and systems, as well as employee engagement, learning and development.

As many HRDs will attest, employees do not change their behaviours overnight. Realising change requires intelligent and persistent employee engagement, and the creation of tools that encourage and facilitate learning and development so that employees continue to behave in responsible ways.

Deloitte has been working with organisations at different stages on their corporate responsibility and sustainability journeys to help them strengthen their activities and build employee awareness and participation.

Within a multinational manufacturing company, Board members and executive vice-presidents of HR, risk management, marketing, corp comms and health safety & environment competed in two groups in a Deloitte-facilitated game, which resulted in a greater understanding about how to reconcile the long term financial, social and environmental performance of the organisation versus short term profit. The game has been used to help integrate CR and sustainability into daily work practices and build commitment for execution among business unit managers.

Another multinational company, which has achieved several international awards in recognition of its sustained CR and sustainability programmes, introduced the game to clarify the strategy of the company. It felt that all senior managers and executives in its organisation needed to develop deeper knowledge, skills and behaviours to translate the CR and sustainability targets of the firm into practice. Here, the game has been played in various facilitated workshops, both face-to-face and through the internet to accommodate employees based in locations across the globe. Feedbacks from the game have helped identify what the company is doing well and where improvements can be made, accelerating its leadership in corporate responsibility and sustainability.

And, at a similarly strategic level, TNT (in The Netherlands) has added the game to its leadership programme - "...proof that the Deloitte Business Simulation Game is more than just a nice amusement for management," said Peter Bakker, chief executive of the Dutch international logistics and delivery services company.

Michael Saxton (pictured) is founder of Greenpoint PR