Sponsor Spotlight: Levelling up for Good with EY

For the second year in a row, EY are the headline sponsor for the Northern Power Women Awards. In addition to sponsoring an award category in 2019, this makes the 2022 awards the third year that the organisation has shown their support for the largest celebration of gender equality in Europe.

With such enduring sponsorship of an event dedicated to spotlighting incredible role models across the North, EY has demonstrated just how committed they are to the Levelling Up agenda and its values. To find out just how deep-rooted these values are within the organisation, we spoke to Stephen Church, North Market Leader & Manchester Office Managing Partner at EY, and Graham Wright, EY Partner to find out what Levelling Up means to them, to EY, and to their involvement with the Northern Power Women Awards.

Both Stephen and Graham were keen to stress the vital yet often overlooked element in the Levelling Up agenda: “it’s about how we make a tangible difference to how it feels for people living and working right across the UK”, said Graham, “it’s often talked about in the context of transport, connectivity and infrastructure, but actually they’re the enablers, when levelling up is really about people”.

Defined by Stephen in part as, “recognising the strengths of the regions”, Levelling Up should also, in his opinion, be sure to include a roadmap for regional towns, as well as the powerful cities across the north. He spoke of how he wants to “see an even spread, so that not just the cities of Manchester or Liverpool but also the Rotherhams and the Rochdales get as much benefit from this and can contribute more than they currently do today and aren’t becoming backwaters”.

EY’s purpose, “build a better working world”, demonstrates values shared by the Levelling Up agenda, both internally and externally. EY’s internal culture is centred on inclusivity and longevity, as reflected by Graham’s 25-year experience in the organisation. “There is something in the culture and the way that we operate that goes to the heart of our ethos […] there is a real focus on building a culture of belonging”.

EY’s global strategy ‘NextWave’ includes core pillars of both Societal Value and People Value which is, in Stephen’s words, “the bedrock of what EY is”. Delivering these pillars of the core strategy, together with many EY initiatives and programmes, including the EY Foundation (an independent charity supporting young people from low-income backgrounds into paid work experience), enables the firm to support “schools, charities and enterprises in each of the geographical areas where we’ve got offices”. As Stephen described, EY “have been very focused on going beyond what we do as a core service, and more about creating long term value for people and society in what we do and how we go about it.”.  

Putting its purpose into action as this year’s headline sponsors of the Northern Power Women Awards, EY are able to facilitate the spotlighting of individuals and organisations who go above and beyond to make real, positive change to the communities they live and work in. Describing the role that these awards play in creating a cycle of role models for future generations across the North, Graham stated: “success fuels success, those people are the role models to future generations, so that’s what I want my two daughters to be inspired by. That’s why us being involved in these events is so important”. This was echoed by Stephen, who said that “it’s important that we highlight, spotlight those individuals […] the more you can showcase and highlight the better […] it’s one of the main responsibilities we’ve got as leaders.”.