Within two hours of the Government’s announcement of lockdown in March, we communicated with all of our people in the UK that they were expected to work from home with immediate effect. This set in train the biggest upheaval to the operations of PwC in modern times.
There are many dimensions to the COVID-19 pandemic and the humanitarian implications have been enormous. The impact on our firm, our clients, our people and our communities was immediate and while the lockdown occurred eight months into our financial year, its effects and the economic disruption that accompanied it are still being felt.
Here is the story of this extraordinary year. One in which the firm still managed to grow and when, more than ever, we stuck firm to our purpose - to build trust in society and solve important problems.
We faced many challenges including; the remote delivery of work to our clients as they respond and recover; the support we provided to our communities and the wider economy throughout lockdown; our focus on our people’s mental and physical wellbeing; and our renewed efforts to build a culture that prioritises diversity and inclusion.
Our society requires a strong economy and thriving businesses to function. This is a constant.
Our purpose has never felt more relevant, whether it’s in the way we support businesses through our core service delivery or in wider society. We’ve brought it to life through our focus on our clients, our people and the communities in which we live and work.
“The pandemic is a defining moment for all, but I believe that the true strength of our business continues to be a clear purpose and an engaged workforce.”Kevin Ellis, Chairman and Senior Partner
Each of our UK businesses performed well despite the market uncertainty with sound overall performances across the majority of segments, sectors and industries.
Our long-term investment in collaborative technologies and a flexible working culture meant the transition to remote working could be made with confidence. Our 22,000 people continued to support our clients, while managing the challenges of lockdown.
A resilient performance in challenging circumstances
Select the options below to explore about the make-up of our revenues:
We’re proud to work with 27,000 clients with an industry and regional reach that impacts the daily lives of millions of people in and beyond the UK.
This year, we worked alongside them during the COVID-19 crisis to secure food supplies, to support the NHS frontline response, to save jobs following insolvencies, and to protect the livelihoods of many others through access to government schemes.
Our investment in technology meant our people could work remotely to deliver for our clients from day one
By drawing on our skills, technology, global network and alliance partners, we’ve also adapted and delivered existing work, from thousands of audits to tech-enabled transformation projects, under exceptional circumstances. Our involvement across industries has allowed us to share insight and responses from one sector into others, such as with our cyber security expertise.
Throughout FY20, we created and protected deal value, helped organisations turn risk into competitive advantage, supported many clients as they refreshed strategies and transformed operations, progressed our commitments to consistently high-quality audits, and contributed to the effective running of tax and reporting systems.
“While working remotely under exceptional circumstances, we’ve delivered large-scale, tech-enabled transformation projects, strategic workforce initiatives, and thousands of audits.”Marco Amitrano, Head of Clients and Markets
It’s clear there is more uncertainty ahead, but we’re proud to be working alongside some of the most exciting and impactful private, public and third sector organisations to solve complex problems and help the UK to build back better, greener, and fairer.
Our Real Assets offering brings together real estate and infrastructure expertise to help clients respond to the changes shaping our built environment, from energy to the places we live and work. We’ve invested in Execution Managed Solutions, giving clients access to new operating models, helping them comply with regulation and focus on their core operations. Our Outcomes Framework allows us to connect the work we’ve done with societal and organisational outcomes helping us to live our purpose.
We’ve worked alongside our clients as they repair, rethink and reconfigure what they do
As economies continue to reopen, clients are starting to re-engage with pre-COVID challenges and opportunities - Brexit, disruptive technology, the need for rapid decarbonisation, and regional inequalities - while new ones, such as supply chain vulnerabilities, shifts in employee expectations, and rising business debt, have taken hold. Organisations, practices, and, in some cases, whole sectors will have to be reshaped.
Our stories in the report are an illustration of the many ways we’ve helped our clients deal with the disruption caused both by the pandemic and the ever changing landscape in which we operate.
The wellbeing, safety and development of our people has always been at the heart of everything we do. This has been more important than ever over the past year.
Equipping people with the skills they need to progress while serving our clients is a key priority, and we began the financial year by launching our biggest ever upskilling project. So far, over 5,000 of our people have participated, learning how new technologies can help us work with our clients to help solve important problems.
Our investment in technology over a number of years helped us all move smoothly to home working, and our values of care, working together and reimagining the possible have been brought to life as our people adapted to new ways of working and collaborating.
We’ve also used technology to serve our communities, by supporting social enterprises and school students, giving them access to tools like our Digital Fitness App and online employability tools.
As a large employer, we know we can play an important role in levelling up society and providing opportunities for different groups of people. Before COVID-19, we updated our recruitment and outreach processes to improve access for diverse groups of people. This included female-friendly work experience initiatives, partnering with organisations like UK Black Tech to help us reach and offer opportunities to young people from ethnic minority groups, and ringfencing roles on our student programmes for those from lower socio-economic backgrounds.
“12,000 of our people logged in to a live conversation with a doctor and psychiatrist answering questions on physical and mental health.”Laura Hinton, Chief People Officer
Lockdown challenged us to find different, virtual ways of welcoming new joiners to our business. Just two weeks after lockdown was announced, we managed to welcome over 180 graduates to start their careers with us. Since the start of lockdown, we’ve hired over 750 people either at the beginning of their careers or as experienced recruits, helping us strengthen our workforce as we prepare for the future.
Protecting jobs has been a priority, and early on we took the decision to shoulder the financial burden of COVID-19 in order to safeguard jobs. The physical health and mental wellbeing of our people has continued to be a priority. We’ve given all our people access to live webcasts with doctors and mental health professionals, providing regular opportunities for reassurance and to have questions answered by experts.
This is our sixth year publishing our gender pay gap, and our fourth year voluntarily publishing our ethnicity pay gap. Our data-driven approach is integral to promoting action and driving real change. Find out more about our diversity pay data and our approach to pay.
This year we’ve seen a continued reduction in nearly all of our pay gaps compared to 2019, with the exception of our regulatory gender pay gap which saw a small increase of 0.8% for the first time in five years. This serves to strengthen our commitment to address all the drivers of our diversity pay data to ensure we are on track to minimise the gaps.
Guided by our data, we have a five point action plan outlining the steps we're taking to promote diversity and inclusion within our business.
Using data to sharpen our focus on ethnicity
Here you can interact with our diversity data explorer to view our ethnicity pay gap and performance against our targets. This year, for the first time, we’re also presenting our ethnicity pay and bonus gap data broken down into Black, Asian and Mixed Ethnic Background data.
The black lives matter events of early summer served as an important reminder of the inequality that still exists across society. We added to our existing diversity and inclusion plan by announcing a targeted action plan focused specifically on ethnicity, and we relaunched our Speak Up campaign as a way of continuing to drive improvements in all that we do.
We held a firmwide black lives matter livestream as part of our response to George Floyd’s death
We first set five-year diversity targets in 2015 to measure the success of our action plan over time. This year, we’ve updated our targets to 2025 to ensure we continue to build a diverse workforce with an inclusive culture based on fairness, trust and belonging.
Our purpose is at the heart of our strategy, shaping how we support our clients, our people and our communities.
We helped key workers to get what they needed at a pop-up supermarket
In many ways COVID-19 has been the ultimate test of what purpose means in practice - supporting our people and keeping them safe, helping our clients respond and build back, and using our reach to support our communities, such as by re-opening our offices as soon as we could.
We couldn’t lose sight of other important problems like climate change and social inequality, which are at risk of being exacerbated or put on the backburner as a result of the pandemic. By continuing to focus on these issues, we made headway, for example:
You can find out more below on our activities across FY20 with our full non-financial scorecard data here.
How we’re continuing to tackle the climate crisis and the importance of a green recovery
COVID-19 has demanded new ways of working for many people, accelerating technological disruption and changes to jobs. Everybody needs to think differently about the skills required for a future that is becoming even less predictable than we thought. Find out more about what we’ve done over the past year to create opportunities for people to learn, work and participate in the digital world through our New World New Skills programme.
We ran free sessions for children aged 10-13 over ten weeks as part of the TechWeCan Programme
Over the past year we supported our local communities in a number of different ways, with a big focus on improving skills & social mobility, and mental health and wellbeing. And when social distancing demanded a rethink of face-to-face volunteering activities, we empowered our people to provide support virtually. Find out more about our overall community contribution this year.
In a year of doing things differently, we continued our support for social enterprises including through virtual group coaching, mentoring and masterclass sessions with our people. Read more about these small innovative businesses that are an integral part of our supply chain.
In 2020, we hit our main environmental 2022 target two years early. We had set a commitment to reduce our total greenhouse gas emissions by 40%, in line with the reductions needed to achieve the Paris Agreement. This year our footprint was 60% below that of 2007, when we first formally started to measure it, while over the same timeframe, we’ve increased our revenues by 67%.
Our achievement reflects thirteen years of collaboration across various departments and with key suppliers. We have pioneered many innovative practices, and have now exceeded or are close to all of our 2022 targets.
Find out more about our purpose framework, and how it drives both the work we do for clients and how we run ourselves as a business. We've also updated our statement on climate risks again, in line with the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosure (TCFD) guidance.
We seek to build trust by acting ethically, with integrity and fairness, to do the right thing. Giving our stakeholders transparency is core to this.
Our annual Transparency Report is focused on our audit practice and audit-related services, which are at the centre of our business and our public interest responsibilities. At its heart the report keeps stakeholders informed about audit quality - including our processes and programmes to improve it - and how we are responding to the related challenges that we face. It also details our firmwide governance structures and principal risks to enable our stakeholders to better understand how we manage and monitor risk in our business.
We understand that transparency on important topics, such as how we engage with policy makers, and how we set the firm’s tax strategy are equally important to building trust in society. We’re committed to providing this information in a clear and accessible way, including how we make a constructive contribution to policy debates domestically and internationally, and our tax strategy 2020.
As part of our commitment to transparency we also publish details of our executive pay. Partner remuneration is determined through a fair, robust and transparent income system aligned with the firm’s vision, culture and performance ambitions. Individual profit per partner depends on the overall profitability of the firm and is based on a number of factors including responsibility and performance across the firm’s strategic priorities. Remuneration for members of the Management Board is overseen by the Talent & Remuneration Committee and more information is available here.
Annual Review enquiries
Corporate Affairs, PwC United Kingdom