As a HR leader whose influence creates social change, what do you feel has been your most impactful action to date?
My aspiration has always been to work with a broad group of people, from a diverse spectrum of backgrounds, so that I can keep learning. We’ve achieved greater diversity at PwC by substantially changing the external image of PWC. We are a far more accessible, equitable and diverse organisation than people think we are, and have made great progress over the last 10 years to be far more inclusive. I’m really proud of the work that I have done to lead this - we now recruit and develop on potential rather than background. Our processes have been developed to assess skills such as agility, resilience and data analysis, which we know are vital to our organisation. We now have the confidence to assess without reference to A-levels and the University which was attended.
PWC won ‘Organisation of the Year at the 2020 Social Mobility Awards and are currently ranked the #1 Employer in the Social Mobility Employers Index.
At the moment, in your industry, what do you think is the most exciting opportunity for HR to change the world?
COVID gives us the opportunity to improve what we do in HR, to ‘Build Back Better’. We’ve achieved 5 years’ worth of change in 6 months. This year’s circumstances have allowed us to progress in people empowerment, mobility and has made us challenge any continued culture of presenteeism. We were already on that journey, but we’ve been given the opportunity to propel forwards. My focus is to keep all the positive elements we already had about our working culture whilst embracing the new opportunities. After all, the future of work is going to look a lot different to how it has been in the past.
Which particular areas of social and environmental injustice are you most passionate about, and see that your role gives you the chance to create change?
Social mobility is one of many I am passionate about, and I have been using my energy to rewrite our entry level recruitment to make it more accessible. PWC used to recruit over 1,800 graduates and now the profile is split between graduates, apprentices and school leavers to create different entry points into the organisation. In addition, 50% of work experience placements are ring-fenced to be made available to those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
How have you best used your position to create a more equitable and inclusive environment in ways that deliver your business goals?
We’ve put in place a 5-point Diversity Action plan, which we continuously measure our progress against. One part of the plan ensures we focus as equally on inclusion as we do on diversity. For example, we have recently launched a two-day digital up-skilling programme. We have made this training available to everyone in the organisation. I recognise some may not use those skills to help us at PWC, however everyone is going to need those skills in the future. It is HR’s role to look at the future skills need and future proof their population in an inclusive way.
What is the one specific action you would like to see all HR Leaders take to make a positive change for the world?
Don’t wait to be invited into the discussion. HR are best placed to step up and step in and be the key voice in equality and the future of work.