Our people are our biggest asset. We do all we can to create an environment where we attract talented people who are motivated to give their best and reach their full potential.
We believe it is vital to continue to invest for the long term in recruiting and developing highly talented people. This year we again recruited more than 1,200 students, including over 100 school leavers.
We recognise that some talented school leavers want to start work straight away, whereas some would like to study for a degree first. We’re always looking to open up different routes into our firm, so this year we have higher apprentices training in all of our businesses.
More and more students are starting their search for a graduate job before their final year. And because finding talented students and school leavers is an important part of our strategy we’re continuing to adapt our approach so it meets the needs of students. We offer a number of different work experience programmes so students can boost their employability and make informed career decisions. These range from insight days and work shadowing to six- to eight-week paid internships. This year, over 500 students joined us on our paid internship programmes.
This year 22 female students from 15 different universities joined us for a week’s shadowing in 12 of our offices across the UK. The programme is one of the many ways in which we try and encourage more female students to consider a career with us.
In addition, we now support three partnership accounting and finance degree programmes. The one at Newcastle University has been running for 10 years and we recently started new programmes in conjunction with the Henley Business School at the University of Reading and with Nottingham University.
We’ve also continued to recruit experienced people. This year, 773 experienced hires joined our business across the UK. This is slightly down on last year, reflecting a more volatile economic environment, and explains the small reduction in overall staff numbers. For the tenth consecutive year, we were voted The Times UK Top 100 Graduate Employer of the Year and, for the 15th consecutive year, voted Employer of Choice for Accounting. Our investment in recruitment has paid off.
Our people strategy has three areas of focus:
We want to recruit talented individuals and make sure our people have meaningful work, that they are motivated to give their best, and also that our clients’ experience of working with us is a great one. We realise it’s vital to keep up the momentum and so we offer our people lots of opportunities to tell us how we can make PwC an even better place to work.
Having a diverse workforce with a broad range of strengths helps us do better work for our clients. We want all our people to flourish whatever their background, race or gender.
We believe in creating an environment where every PwC employee can be themself at work and where different skills are valued and used to bring creative solutions to our clients.
Market volatility and the constant demand for new services mean that we need to be agile to develop, move, adapt and recruit people quickly to meet client needs. We encourage our people to move around the firm and the PwC international network. As well as giving them interesting opportunities, this exchange of ideas and experiences is good for the firm and for our clients.
We know our people particularly value the opportunities we provide for them to develop and learn new skills. This year we spent around £20m on developing and delivering formal training programmes and over 900 students joined our professional qualification training routes. As well as building technical skills, we expect all our people to build relationship, leadership and commercial skills. Most of this training comes through on-the-job coaching and challenging client assignments. We support them in this through a range of flexible learning programmes, many of which can be delivered as and when required, in and around day-to-day work.
Not many people realise the wide variety of backgrounds from which our people come. For example, we have a former senior official from MI6 in our Corporate Intelligence team and a former prison governor in our Consulting team. We have a doctor and a nurse working as consultants in our Healthcare team. Having people with a broad and diverse range of skills and experiences means we’re in a better position to understand the industry sectors we work in. As well as this, if we bring different views and different experiences to our clients and to the workplace, we’ll add more value to our clients and that’s good for business and good for our people.
This year we’re recruiting over 100 school leavers all of whom will be joining our Higher Apprenticeship Programme. This two-year programme is designed to give them knowledge of the industry and market, technical and business skills, while studying towards a professional qualification and a Level 4 Higher Apprenticeship Award, equivalent to the first rung of a university degree-level qualification.
Earlier this year, we won an Opportunity Now Diversity award for ‘Advancing Women in the Workplace’. We were also listed as one of The Times Top 50 Employers for Women.
The ‘Advancing Women in the Workplace’ award recognises recruitment, retention and/or development of women in the workplace. We won the award for the female partner sponsorship programme we launched in 2010 to increase the number of female partners in leadership roles.
While we have a lot to celebrate, we’re not complacent and still have a way to go. We were disappointed this year that only 16% of new partners were women, which the Executive Board is determined to address. To help our best people to develop and progress their careers as quickly as they are able, we launched a support programme for our high-potential female and black and ethnic minority directors and senior managers.
We launched the campaign ‘Opening Minds – diversity is good for growth’ in March 2013. The aim was to raise awareness of the benefits diversity has for our business and how our firm needs to value the difference of its diverse talent to support its business growth targets.
It isn’t about positive discrimination; it’s about creating a level playing field for all, regardless of gender or race – and doing this as quickly as we can. This isn’t just the right thing to do ethically; it’s the right thing to do commercially. Attracting the brightest and best from the widest pool of talent helps us service our diverse, global clients better.
We ask our people for their views on what it is like to work at PwC in a number of ways. We have a biannual people survey and we run a number of focus groups with small groups of our people at all levels. There are also numerous opportunities for our people to interact with senior leaders, including town hall meetings, debates and webcasts. Employment engagement is at the centre of our strategy. We are disappointed that our score has dropped slightly from the high levels in April 2012 and we are continuing to focus on this.
Almost two years ago, we introduced a new framework called ‘the deal’. This is helping us to engage with our people and understand what they want from the firm and what our firm expects from them.
In the year ahead, we’ll continue to stay focused on engaging with our people so their work is meaningful and motivating. We’ll continually look for opportunities for our people to develop new skills. And we’ll continue to work at finding ways to make sure our client and leadership teams are sufficiently diverse. We want everyone to have the chance to reach their full potential and enjoy being part of an exciting and successful firm. We plan to keep making this happen.