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Sparking sustainable thinking (and action)

A lightbulb moment. We all know that feeling when we get one.

It’s a breakthrough. A moment of inspiration. Of realisation. Something that makes you question how you think about the world. And leads you to live life differently.

If ever we needed people (and businesses) to feel that way again, it’s on the topic of climate change.

And so, as global leaders descended on Glasgow for COP26, we decided to help inspire the change we hope to see in the world - all with the help of experts and leaders we’re connected to.

Welcome to the Lightbulb List

Speaking with many leaders as part of our efforts to help engage, inform and inspire people around climate change, we discovered lightbulb moments on climate came from a good book.

This gave us an idea. 

We decided to use the power of our network to ask a diverse group of climate experts and business leaders for their personal recommend reads. From leading climate scientists to sustainable business leaders, and from activists to Netflix producers, we collated 30 recommended reads, ranging from autobiographies to comic books. 

The result? A diverse collection of books to spark imagination and inspire people to take action  for our planet. 

We built an intuitive mobile-first website, so people could explore the list and understand why a book had been recommended. And if they felt the books on the list might inspire others, we made it easy for people to share with personal networks and on social media – which they did, generating more than a million online impressions. 

A sprinkle of fairy dust

We were looking for creative ways to share the list and spark some climate action. And against a backdrop of stark headlines, we wanted to spread a message of inspiration and possibilities.   

A chance long weekend at a hotel in London led to one of the team discovering a library of free books created by the Book Fairies, a magical organisation that leaves free copies of books for people to discover, read and pass on.  

After conversations with the Fairy in Chief (a real job title), we worked together to leave hundreds of free copies of the recommended books from our Lightbulb List all around the UK. Inside each book was a bookmark printed on seed paper, encouraging people to take a book, read it and pass it on to someone else.  

We even followed the Fairies as they left books around landmarks in London…


From the classroom to the boardroom

After the fairy dust settled and the media attention and focus of COP26 departed, we kept the moments of inspiration alive.  

To mark World Book Day, we sent a personalised bookshelf to the teachers at our 5 Million Futures partner schools to help inspire the people whose job it is to inspire the next generation.  

Alongside 10 books from the Lightbulb List, we sent bookmarks printed on paper embedded with wildflower seeds that can be used to grow bee-friendly flowers on the school site. And our CEO Richard Houston wrote to the headteachers, expressing our thanks and admiration for everything the teachers do. 

To encourage people at the other end of their career trajectory, we built a library of the recommended books in our Deloitte Academy in London and several of our offices around the UK. The Academy is visited by some of the most senior boardroom leaders we have a relationship with. By encouraging them to take a book, read it and pass it on, we hope to get senior decision makers thinking more about their role in making sustainable choices in the businesses they lead.

Simple but impactful

Simple ideas are often the most impactful. And the Lightbulb List demonstrates the power a simple idea and creativity can have in inspiring others and differentiating the firm at the same time. 

Climate change is bigger than Deloitte. And so instead of pushing our own agenda at COP26, we focused on the bigger picture, using the power and influence of our brand to give value and inspire people from the boardroom to the classroom – encouraging those who we influenced to, in turn, influence others.

And who knows, one of those lightbulb moments could lead to positive solutions for our planet. That’s the hope.



Matthew Gale

Director, Brand & Creative Content

020 7007 4163

Email Matthew

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