Member Story: Lorna Gavin, Owner & Director of Chapter Consulting Limited

  1. How did you get into CR&S, and why did you choose this profession?

I spent 30 years at international law firm Gowling WLG.  For the first 14 years I was a corporate lawyer/partner, for the next 16 years I was Head of Diversity, Inclusion & Corporate Responsibility.  One firm, two careers.  I was in the right place at the right time when I was looking to change career path.  I was fortunate that the firm already had a vision to be a truly responsible business, my predecessor was relocating and this role enabled me to do the ‘good deeds’ that I yearned to do, from within an organisation that I loved – leveraging the talent of 1,000+ people behind me.  

  1. What makes your sector unique from a CRS perspective?

When I was in the legal profession there was a heritage, literally centuries old, of doing public good, in the form of ‘pro bono’ – giving free legal advice to those in need.  The need for that is sadly greater than ever.  Beyond pro bono, I loved the willingness of law firms to put ordinary competitive tensions to one side and instead to collaborate, share learnings and help each other do CRS ‘stuff’.   

Now that I’m a consultant I’d say that – done well – the sector should bring the value of years’ of collective experience to bear to support other companies on their CRS journeys.

  1. What do you need to do your job brilliantly?

Just to pick out a couple….

A listening ear – when it comes to community, listen to those in the community and be led by the need, not by what fun or trendy volunteering awayday your people might want to do.  When it comes to people, listen to the lived experiences of the people in your organisation – they will show you what your organisation needs to be truly inclusive – and make sure the senior leaders hear them too. 

Tenacity – a good CRS professional is fundamentally a driver of change, a disruptor and an opportunist (in a good way).  You are changing the status quo for the better but people and businesses can be inherently resistant to change. 

  1. What are the most essential skills for working in CRS?

Being a people person is a huge strength.  You can’t do what we need to do behind spreadsheets or powerpoints (although they have their place!).  You need to get to the coal face to understand the issues as best you can.  Then you need to deploy the people in your organisation to address those issues – so you have to get out there and engage with your people, from the leaders to the most junior person wanting to do an hour’s volunteering once a month.

Linked to all of that are communication skills.  One of the quickest ways to help organisations become responsible businesses is to win hearts and minds - show the organisation the impact it can have – I think you need to be a great story teller. 

There are lots of other skills you need but those are the two that have really helped me get traction over the years.

  1. What advice would you give to others on getting into CR&S?

Really do your homework to get under the skin of a future employer – try to sift out those for whom it’s just window dressing and find those who understand their responsibilities as corporate citizens and are actually walking the walk, not just talking the talk.

Understand how the skills you have used in your education and/or career to date can be transferred to the world of CRS.

Be prepared for no two days ever being the same, spinning dozens of plates on poles, people mistakenly thinking that CRS is just pink and fluffy stuff…. And be prepared to be more rewarded than you could imagine when you watch what happens when you empower colleagues to do amazing things for each other, for the community and for the environment. 

  1. Anything else you’d like to share?

When I took on my role in 2006, my predecessor described CRS as an amoeba.  Something with no defined form or shape but with the power to penetrate to all corners of the business.  I love that description.