Big Four Professional Services Firm

Building a Culture of Respect through E-learning

Steps worked with a leading professional services firm, engaging over 12,000 staff members with an online diversity initiative...


Steps have been working in partnership with one of the Big Four professional service firms since 2009 to develop a Diversity and Inclusion programme that engages all staff across the entire UK employee population of over 12,000.

Our client was keen to emphasise the role of the Senior Leadership Team (SLT) in championing diversity, by looking not just at the business case, but also at the behaviours the leaders needed to be modelling and encouraging in others, in order to ensure the success of the programme.

We wanted to avoid creating a two tier programme, a ‘platinum’ package for the SLT and a ‘bronze’ package for everyone else, as we felt this would be counter cultural to the key aim of inclusivity. The challenge was to convey a consistent message to all delegates, in all service lines, in all geographic locations. Put simply, we wanted to bring Diversity and Inclusion into the heart of the business and make it part of the fabric of the organisational culture.


We worked in partnership with our client to create a programme that focused on the benefits of Inclusion, using a 'pull' not a 'push' strategy that asked all delegates to consider what makes this firm a ‘great place to work’ and how they can contribute to that. Our approach ensured that leadership was encouraged at all levels.

We were initially asked to look at the possibilities of a learning intervention via e-learning. Steps wanted to push the boundaries and to explore the use of filmed drama that encouraged active thinking and participation with individual users. We created a product that set out to win the hearts and minds of all involved in a practical, meaningful way that brought the learning firmly back into the ‘day to day’ culture of our client. We wanted to go beyond the traditional perception of e-learning that ‘spoon feeds’ delegates, tests knowledge and offers up a simple pass or fail – in favour of a more inspiring, engaging and interactive experience that encouraged involvement and particpation.

We didn’t want to create a compliance exercise that alienated everyone from the original purpose, rather we wanted to create a ripple effect that gave all employees the opportunity of a shared vocabulary through accurate, researched storytelling. We wanted to encourage delegates to discuss filmed events – “Did you see the scene last night? Aren’t we a little guilty of that? What did you think of the attitude of the manager? Wouldn’t it be great if we could behave like that…” We wanted people to talk about it and to look forward to the next instalment. If a programme like this doesn’t resonate with delegates - if it doesn’t connect viscerally – you won’t achieve lasting behavioural change.

Through filmed drama, we explored issues of inclusion and asked the viewer ‘what would you do in that situation? The programme posed questions and allowed delegates to see situations from many perspectives – highlighting unconscious biases and exploring the consequences of these perceptions. A through line is supported by presenters who introduce new ideas and concepts, alongside supporting vox pops and input from key influencers from within the organisation.


The programme is currently live within our client environment.

Success will be measured long term, through employee engagement surveys, recruitment and retention, as well as through first level evaluation methods where there is already a clear pattern of success emerging. The establishment of an inclusive ‘Respect Culture’ is seen as a preferable long-term measure of success and we continue to work with our client to achieve this.

This programme is the start of a long term journey in an organisation that can already boast of significant success. The programme is attracting attention from other regions, with conversations ongoing with operations in India and the USA as a result of the halo effect of the UK programme. Subsequent interventions are already in the planning stages, and these will continue to carry the programme forward and ensure the ultimate outcome - a global culture of respect for our client.

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