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Building on a culture of belonging: PwC’s first D&I transparency report

Why sharing results is part of our commitment to diversity.

Today, at PwC US, we are taking another big and important step in our diversity and inclusion (D&I) journey. For the first time, we are publicly releasing our diversity data and strategy. But more importantly, we are reinforcing our commitment to accelerating our progress as we continue to strengthen a culture of belonging.

For us, this is not new — we have been building a diverse and inclusive culture for more than two decades. We want our firm to be a workplace that supports all of our people, so that every person has the same opportunities to grow their career to their fullest potential.

My desire and commitment as the leader of PwC is to lead with purpose, which includes how our firm prioritizes diversity and inclusion. When I became U.S. chair and senior partner just over four years ago, I told my fellow partners and leaders that if all I achieve is growth of PwC’s financial success, then I will have failed at my job. Together, with the tremendous engagement of our partners, who help us define and drive our success, we are expanding our diversity at all levels and enhancing our firm’s culture of belonging.

Why we are releasing our strategy and numbers

This spring, the country watched the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and others, all while the coronavirus disproportionately ravaged Black, Latinx, and underserved communities. In June, we announced six additional commitments to accelerate our journey to building a more diverse and inclusive organization. Among our commitments was our promise to be more transparent about our diversity strategy and results. The decision to make our data public was something that we had long planned to do this year, but the events of the spring made our desire to share our plan and results more urgent. This level of transparency is rare for a private firm, but as we aim to be a leader on D&I, we feel it is the right thing to do.

It is critical that corporate America address its D&I issue by tackling it like it would any other business problem. For us, this means we have to use an approach that is data-led, rooted in analysis, and has a defined and deliberate strategy that is informed by our purpose and values. We recognize that while we have made progress over the years, we have more work to do. 

Building a culture of belonging

The heart of our effort is to continue to build on our culture of belonging for all, so that everyone at PwC can achieve their fullest career aspirations at our firm. No single program, action, or leader can foster a culture of belonging. Rather, it has to be the result of many deliberate decisions, difficult conversations, consultations with outside expertise, and learning from what has worked and what hasn’t. Our data-led strategy has evolved from a series of programs to targeted interventions at the critical moments along our people’s career journey. In addition, it focuses on engaging our colleagues in the majority to play a key role in further entrenching a culture of belonging and committing to allyship. Here are the key pillars of our strategy, and the aspirations that go with them.

1. Attracting talent in new ways. Key to our success is increasing the diversity of the people we recruit. We have already made important changes in this area. For example, we’re strengthening our relationships with historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), Hispanic-serving institutions (HSIs), and community colleges. We are reviewing requirements for four-year degrees as prerequisites to join certain parts of our businesses, to help us to more readily source talent and, in some cases, decrease obstacles that a four-year degree presents to those from underserved communities. We are also deepening our work with strategic partners like PowerToFly, the Grace Hopper Celebration, and Lesbians Who Tech.

Our aspiration is to align our recruiting efforts to the expected college enrollment for Black and Latinx individuals. Based on the National Center for Education StatisticsPDF, the postsecondary enrollment demographic will continue to shift. Because of that, we aspire to see 35 percent Black and Latinx representation among our experienced hires, entry-level hires, and interns. This is significantly higher than our current makeup, which is 19 percent for entry-level hires, 18 percent for experienced hires, and 22 percent for interns.

2. Evolving our people’s experience within the first two years. Getting qualified, diverse talent in the door is critical to our mission, but our data shows that the first two years are a leading indicator of success, especially for our racially and ethnically diverse colleagues. The experiences that our people have during that time are critical to whether or not they remain with the firm, so we continue to focus on providing foundational experiences that are positive and inclusive, and underscore how much they are valued.

To set our people up for success from day one, we have and will continue to implement a number of actions specifically focused on networking, performance development, mentorship, sponsorship, and training. We are also continuing to focus on the way we handle deployment around client engagements so that all of our people — with a particular emphasis on our women, Black, and Latinx employees — are experiencing a variety of challenging assignments, which our data tells us lead to greater opportunities. And we are focused on getting them the feedback and coaching needed to help them develop and succeed.

3. Shifting the makeup of our partnership. Representation at the top of our firm is critical, because partners are the owners and leaders who drive our firm’s strategy and help mold its future. We know that we need to increase the diversity at the partnership level among Black, Latinx, and female leaders, which is currently at 34 percent. Our aspiration is to see 50 percent of our partnership be made up of women and/or racially/ethnically diverse leaders. To do this, we will be reaching women, Black, and Latinx employees earlier on in their careers, by extending our partnership pipeline from three to six years and offering training and development, introductions to mentors and sponsors, and assistance with career pathing to help meet their aspirations. And for our existing partners, we will be doubling down on accountability for their efforts in developing and sponsoring diverse candidates.

No single program, action, or leader can foster a culture of belonging. Rather, it has to be the result of many deliberate decisions and difficult conversations.

We are pleased that this year’s partner class is the most diverse partner class in the firm’s history, with 47 percent being females and/or racially and ethnically diverse, and that our current U.S. leadership team is the most diverse in our firm’s history, with 50 percent being female and/or racially and ethnically diverse. That said, we need to continue to do more to shift the entire makeup of the partnership over time.

In addition to focusing on these three specific career interventions, we are also focused on bringing greater diversity to our overall workforce. Currently, our U.S. employee workforce is 48 percent female, 20 percent Asian, 5 percent Black or African American, and 8 percent Latinx. As the diversity of our society and educational systems evolves, we are committed to continuing to increase the diversity of our workforce. Our aspiration is to build a workforce in the U.S. that better reflects the evolving diverse makeup of higher education enrollment in this country.

You can view our first, ever D&I Transparency Report here.

Lastly, we are at pay equity across our U.S. firm. As our people grow their careers here, part of how they know they are valued is knowing that they will be paid equitably, and as a firm we regularly review a number of factors to maintain pay equity for all.

Our commitment to society

We know that doing this within our four walls is not enough if we want to be part of systemic change that will impact the lives of underrepresented groups in our country, so our commitment to D&I includes significant contributions to society as well. At PwC, we live our values and purpose not only at work, but also in our communities. Here are a few examples of how we are advancing D&I outside our firm.

• We cofounded and launched CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion. Since its creation, we’ve grown our coalition to over a thousand other companies and organizations, representing 85 industries and approximately 13 million employees. Most recently, we launched CEO Action for Racial Equity, in which we hope to bring together representatives from our one thousand–plus CEO Action network to work full-time to advance sustainable public policies across America.

• In 2017, we launched Access Your Potential, a US$320 million commitment to help provide technology and financial literacy skills to more than 10 million students from underserved communities. We are adding a focus on students of institutions that serve racially and ethnically diverse students, like HBCUs, HSIs, and community colleges, helping these graduates to be fully prepared for the workforce.

• We are focused on continuing to increase our work with diverse suppliers, who currently make up 22 percent of our reportable spend. To expand this effort, we now include diversity initiatives in the performance aspirations for our procurement team and will now consider diversity impact before we award any business.

Looking ahead

For those of you who know me, you know this is personal. For the past 15 years, I have mentored several professionals of color at PwC, and most recently watched with pride as two longtime Black, female mentees became partners in the last two years. These relationships have expanded my understanding of the importance of fostering diversity and inclusion at the organizational level. More importantly though, I have witnessed the impact that driving progress on D&I can make on a personal level.

We at PwC are committed to doing our part, and this report is one of the steps we are taking to do so. Our D&I journey is one of the most difficult challenges for an organization to take on, but like most things that are important, it is simply the right thing to do.

Timothy F. Ryan

Timothy F. Ryan is the U.S. chair and senior partner of PwC US, based in New York. He has been the chair of the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion steering committee since its inception.

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