Mike Kelly - Chairman, Dame Kelly Holmes Trust

ICRS Fellow, Mike Kelly, is a leading light in responsible business for the financial services industry, and was instrumental in the development and launch of the UN Global Compact and the Living Wage Foundation. 

Today, Mike lends his considerable wisdom to third sector organisations including as Chair to the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust, and also lectures on the role of financial services in sustainable development at the University of Strathclyde.

Membership level: Fellow

Industry: Financial services, NGO


How did you get into CRS, and why?

By accident rather than design. I was working in the risk function of a bank and was asked to take on the ‘environment’ as a risk facing the bank. UK Legislation coming in (Environment Act 1990) meant that banks might have to pay for pollution events of their customers. Once in it, I loved it. The freedom to speak to all stakeholders, the ability to influence policy, internally in the Bank and externally at a national and global level.

What's a typical day like in your current role?

The Trust supports high performing athletes transitioning when their competitive career is over and young people who are NEET. So my days are spent with both these communities helping to ensure we stick to our business plan, experiencing the challenges they face and supporting our CEO and staff. No two days are the same.

What do you need to do your job brilliantly?

Strong influencing skills; open minded stakeholder engagement (code for a thick skin) and ability to listen are a good start. A theoretical understanding of the key CRS issues, gained either by academic study or vocational training. A long term perspective and an ability to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Understand what motivates people and use it accordingly. It can be a lonely profession which is why the ICRS is so valuable; networking, knowledge management and simply a place to have a good moan.

What project or achievement are you most proud of?

Most recently the Living Wage Foundation, which I chaired from inception. More long term, the setting up of the UNEP Finance Initiative in 1992-5 and its successor bodies. Finally, being part of a team of three who designed, developed and launched the UNGC.

If you could change one thing about CRS, what would it be?

Get rid of the jargon – it prevents good communication.            

Why should people choose a career in CRS?

When I started I knew all the UK practitioners personally and most of the members of CSR Europe. To be fair we would all fit in the one room. Now it is a large community of diverse individuals and groups. But there is still the same ambition to change the world. And it is still possible to do that whether it is in your own enterprise, your locality or nationally and globally.

What advice would you give to others on getting into CRS?

Pick one aspect of CRS and concentrate on it. Become famous for one thing and you will get to do so much more, rather than trying to do everything. The field is too broad to do it any other way.

What one question would you like to pose to the ICRS community?

What will ICRS be famous for on its 10th Anniversary?

Website by Digital Garden and Bowley Design. Logo by Flag.