We're the first professional services firm to sign the Bristol Zero Tolerance pledge

06/04/17

Our Regional Chair, Katharine Finn, signing the pledge

We are proud to be the first professional services firm to sign the Bristol Zero Tolerance pledge, a new initiative founded by Bristol Women’s Commission which is working towards Bristol becoming a city free from gender-based violence, abuse, harassment and exploitation. Bristol is the first city in England to take on this challenge and it is hoped that other cities will be inspired to implement similar initiatives.

About PwC and what we’ve done so far around gender equality

PwC is a multi-disciplinary professional services network committed to delivering quality in assurance, tax and advisory services.

The PwC network includes 208,000 people in 157 countries around the world. In the UK we have 20,000 people and over 900 partners.

Our Bristol office is the largest in our West and Wales practice and, from here, we work with some of the highest profile businesses in the region.

PwC’s vision is: “One firm – a powerhouse of a commercial enterprise that does the right thing for our clients, our people and our communities”. Part of ‘doing the right thing’ means giving all of our people an equal chance to achieve their best potential, and creating a working environment where people feel supported and safe.

As a firm we already do a great deal when it comes to gender equality, including our:

  • Sponsorship of the HeForShe campaign which is a UN initiative to promote gender equality around the world. Together with HeForShe we’ve developed an online course, ‘Building Gender IQ,’ to raise awareness of the impact of gender norms and stereotypes, the cost of gender inequality, and the benefits of gender equality for individuals and societies.
  • Shadow a Female Leader programme.
  • Gender Balance Network, with representatives in each office.
  • Aspire to Lead leadership series which focuses on developing the next generation of women in the workplace.
  • Gender Agenda blog which we publish on our website.
  • Support of flexible working and return to work schemes, and our support network for working parents.
  • A Diversity & Inclusion policy that we actively promote within the firm.

Nationally, 45% of our total workforce is female, as are 160 of our 938 partners. We also have 4 women on our 12-strong Executive Board and, closer to home, our West Region Chair and 3 of our 4 office lead partners are women.

We know there is still more to be done, but we are proud of the steps that we have taken to increase the gender diversity of the firm. In recognition of our efforts we have been named by The Times as one of the Top 50 Employers for Women.

Why we are signing the Zero Tolerance pledge

Despite having a number of initiatives in place that aim to encourage greater gender balance, we haven’t as yet focused specifically on gender-based violence.

As a large, high profile employer in Bristol we have a duty to lead by example and are therefore proud to sign the Zero Tolerance pledge, marking our commitment to this important initiative.

We want our workforce to know that they are free to speak up if they are impacted by gender-based violence in their personal lives, or harassment at work, and they will be believed and supported without judgement.

In terms of how we will roll this out in our Bristol office, we have already provided specific training to support People Managers in spotting the signs when someone is behaving out of character and knowing where to refer them for help; this includes our free of charge Bupa Employee Assistance helpline and our Occupational Health team.

Our next step will be to put up posters promoting the Zero Tolerance pledge in key gathering points in our Bristol office, encouraging people to start talking about gender-based violence and to seek help if they have been impacted by it. We will also circulate the Zero Tolerance Signposting Guide to all of our People Managers to make sure that they are behind the initiative.

We’ve made a big effort over recent years to raise the profile of talking about issues that affect us and our performance - and on the other side have encouraged people to listen. Our recent ‘Green Light to Talk’ day involved our people wearing a green ribbon if they felt comfortable having a conversation about mental health. Signing the Zero Tolerance pledge supports our drive to encourage more openness and awareness around non-visible issues which impact our people.

Katharine Finn, Chair of PwC’s West and Wales Region, said: “I’m really proud to sign the Zero Tolerance pledge on behalf of PwC. PwC’s recent Inclusive Recruitment report tells us that creating a diverse and supportive workplace is key to attracting the brightest talent and we are aware of the importance of employers ‘walking the talk’ when it comes to the issue of gender equality”.

Penny Gane, Chair of the Bristol Women's Commission, said: "We are delighted that PricewaterhouseCoopers are leading the way for their sector as the first professional services company to sign up to Bristol Zero Tolerance. We hope this will encourage other businesses in the city to get involved and promote the positive impact Zero Tolerance can have on their own staff, the company and the city; a city working to eliminate all forms of gender based violence, abuse, harassment and exploitation. We look forward to working with our new partners to implement Bristol Zero Tolerance in the most appropriate way within their workplace and to ensuring that gender-based violence is understood as a workplace issue so that people can get the support and help they need, as well as become active citizens to change attitudes and behaviours."

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Jayne Bradshaw
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