Depending on your experience throughout university, you might be skeptical of many employers’ diversity policies and programs. It’s 2012 and we live in Canada, you might think everyone is equal. Right? Maybe not, especially once you leave the relative safety of school to start your career.
Certain groups, including women, visible minorities, people with disabilities, Aboriginal peoples, youth, and gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) people, can face barriers and exclusion in the workplace due to societal stereotypes as well as the biases of their colleagues and superiors.
According to Sandeep Tatla, PwC’s Director, Office of Diversity & Inclusion, these barriers tend to be subtle and go largely unnoticed. “Students really need to do their research to make sure that the same diversity and inclusion policies and practices they had in university or college are reflected in the organizations they are applying to,” says Sandeep.
“We serve a really diverse group of clients, so . . . we need our associates to bring new ideas, new suggestions and new ways of working to make us more effective.” —James Davidson, Senior Manager – Campus Talent Acquisition, PwC
As one of Canada’s Top Employers, PwC has been proactive by implementing a number of diversity and inclusion initiatives to be even more supportive and to create a culture where all types of diversity are embraced and celebrated.
Diversity isn’t just about giving everyone the warm-fuzzies, though. For PwC, there’s a strong business case for ensuring a diverse range of people work at all levels of the firm.
“We serve a really diverse group of clients, so to really understand our clients and to provide insights, we need our associates to bring new ideas, new suggestions and new ways of working to make us more effective in providing value to our clients,” says James Davidson, Senior Manager – Campus Talent Acquisition for PwC.
Identifying corporate Canada’s culture of exclusion
“In many organizations, the junior level is often populated with the same number of men and women, but then it tends to become unbalanced in more senior roles,” Sandeep says. A recent Conference Board of Canada report found that the proportion of women in leadership roles in Canada has stayed roughly the same since 1987, and men are still 1.5 to 3 times more likely than women to hold middle and senior management positions. “So the question is why are they dropping off there? What can organizations do to address this issue?”
In the past, many organizations may have overlooked or excluded women from promotions or raises. Women were often trying to balance work and family priorities, and organizations may have perceived this as a loyalty issue. In addition, women were often not assertive enough to sell their skills and talents to employers for a promotion or a raise.
James says he sees this as early as the recruitment stage: “Men tend to be more confident when it comes to selling themselves – they’re not afraid to say ‘I did this or I did that,’ whereas women often say ‘we did this or we did that.’ It’s a lot more team-based.”
“I absolutely understand challenges names like ours can create, but I encourage you to try to use your real name because that means you’re coming forward as your whole self instead of changing who you are to fit into some organization.”
—Sandeep Tatla, Director, Office of Diversity & Inclusion, PwC
Even something as basic as your name (or, in reality, others’ unwillingness or inability to pronounce it correctly) can create problems. Sandeep, who has written about her own name nuisances in the Financial Post, recently met a student at an on-campus event who was told by a career advisor to abandon her “ethnic-sounding” first name and apply with a fake, Anglicized name. Sandeep’s advice was: “I absolutely understand challenges names like ours can create, but I encourage you to try to use your real name because that means you’re coming forward as your whole self instead of changing who you are to fit into some organization.”
That idea – bringing your whole self to work – is core to the firm’s approach, which is to remove the barriers different groups face. No so-called “affirmative action” hiring or diversity quotas, just a dedication to creating an understanding, accepting and supportive workplace.
A few of PwC’s diversity and inclusion initiatives include:
Creating mentoring opportunities for women
PwC’s Mentoring Connections program encourages one-on-one mentor relationships between female senior managers, and male and female partner mentors.
“Mentoring relationships don’t always form organically for women, so sometimes we have to make sure women connect with the right people and learn how to navigate through the organization,” says Sandeep. “We want to make sure they don’t get left behind.”
Appraising employee performance differently
People tend to recognize and reward people who look and act like them – one possible explanation for women being less likely than men to become managers and executives. PwC therefore trains its managers to complete employee performance appraisals with a greater awareness of gender and cultural diversity.
“Women tend to show strength and accomplish things in different ways than men, but they can still achieve the same results as men,” Sandeep says.
Bringing people together
Similar to student groups at your school, PwC has a number of Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) that allow and encourage staff members who are connected by some common dimension of diversity to come together.
For instance, PwC’s GLBT Circle, brings together gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees, and their allies. The group organizes social events, provides informal networking opportunities and raises awareness about issues facing the GLBT community.
“It’s also an opportunity for people to have a confidential conversation with someone who’s maybe a little more senior than them about how to handle a particular scenario,” says James. “For example, how to let their team know that they’re gay and they’ve actually got a boyfriend, not a girlfriend.”
PwC’s Briefcase Moms initiative addresses the challenges faced by parents as they try to balance parenting with their careers. The program brings PwC women together to share and learn from each other regarding work life quality challenges.
Yes, parenthood might seem a long way from graduation day, but PwC is looking to hire people who want to grow their career within the firm.
“It’s important to think a couple of years ahead as to what might come down the line in your life,” James says. “You want to make sure you’re choosing a firm that’s going to be able to support you now, where you currently are in your life, but you also want a firm that’s going to be able to support you as your life changes.”
Many of PwC’s diversity and inclusion initiatives have created a more flexible and supportive work environment for everyone. Visit their website to learn more.
At PwC, you’ll find exciting careers that offer limitless opportunities for growth. Join PwC for the opportunity of a lifetime.
More articles and videos about PwC:
- The Opportunity Of A Lifetime: Start Your Career In Consulting At PwC
- A Day In The Life Of A PwC Associate – Part 1: At Work
- A Day In The Life Of A PwC Associate – Part 2: Fun And Culture
- Behind The Scenes With A PwC Recruiter