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Improving racial equality in the workplace and beyond

The murder of George Floyd in May 2020, the subsequent Black Lives Matter events and continued racist attacks on minority ethnic communities over the last year, served as important reminders that the fight for racial equality is far from over. Racial inequality and racism also continue to exist within the workplace, and we, alongside other employers, have a responsibility to take action to effect lasting and meaningful change.

Last year, we recognised the need to further accelerate our existing plans and address the challenges faced by our Black, Asian and minority ethnic colleagues, to advance racial equality more broadly - and more quickly.

To add to our existing Diversity and Inclusion five point action plan, which includes fair work access, career sponsorship, and senior leadership accountability, our Chairman and Senior Partner, Kevin Ellis, announced a targeted racial equality action plan and our progress against it is outlined below.

Wellbeing support

We held 25 wellbeing sessions in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, and other race related events across the year, to support our Black, Asian and ethnic minority staff with the impact of this on their wellbeing.

Supporting Black-led charities and social enterprises 

We set up our ColourBrave Charity Committee (CBCC) chaired by partner Saye Mkangama. Through this we support 25 Black-led charities and social enterprises that have ethnic minority beneficiaries. We do this through grant allocations and volunteering. Since the launch of the CBCC, over 100 of our people have volunteered through mentoring, running employability sessions and masterclasses, with the 25 charities benefiting from 1,065 volunteering hours. 

Following a Human Centred Design process led by our Design Thinking for Good team, we set up the Black Entrepreneurship Programme in February 2021 in collaboration with our longstanding community partner, the School for Social Entrepreneurs. The programme will run for three years initially, and each year a group of ten Black social enterprise leaders will take part, co-designing a programme that helps to tackle the inequality affecting the Black community.

Creating more opportunities for open conversations

We established our new Staff Diversity Council in August 2020. Complementing our existing People Council and Partner Diversity Council, it’s made up of 23 members from across the firm who represent a wide variety of communities. From faith to ethnicity and sexuality, they are closely connected to our People networks and support the firm’s Diversity and Inclusion agenda by contributing insights based on their own experience, sharing the perspectives of their communities and providing feedback, challenge and support on the firm’s D&I strategy and actions.

Over the last year, we also scaled up our internal ColourBrave programme which encourages open conversations about race and ethnicity and aims to build our people’s confidence in discussing these topics in the workplace. We now have over 350 ColourBrave advocates and champions across the business.

Investing in education and awareness

We launched unconscious bias awareness training for all partners and staff in October 2020 to further awareness of unconscious bias and create a greater understanding of how it can influence our decisions and the negative impact of that on others. The initial training had a completion rate of 97%. Since then we have released further training focused specifically on race awareness, shared stories from people in the business, begun to deliver a Virtual Reality experience for our leaders, and have more training on this planned for later in the year.

Broadening access

In addition to our racial equality plan, we also continue to deliver against our existing Diversity and Inclusion plan. This includes a focus on recruitment activity, and broadening access into our firm to attract a more diverse range of people, including those from ethnic minority communities. Through student society engagement, external partnerships and sharing the diverse voice of our people through blogs, films and events we aim to bring our culture to life. Alongside our long-standing partnership with UK Black Tech, we are working with Black Young Professionals Network, delivering webinar sessions and leadership conferences to support their members’ professional development and to raise awareness about the career opportunities we offer. We also launched our new three-day paid Black Talent in Business programme for undergraduates, designed to reach Black students who are currently under-represented in our industry. 

The journey continues

In May, one year on from the murder of George Floyd, we held a firmwide live stream, hosted by Staff Diversity Council member, Brian Bob-Jones, who was joined by panelists Kevin Ellis, Chairman and Senior Partner, Albertha Charles, Deals partner, and Joey Jegerajan, Risk People Partner.

It was an opportunity to reflect on the actions taken so far and explore the next steps we all need to take on our journey towards racial equality. As a firm we are focused on continuing to drive real change for our people, our clients and wider society. 

Find out more about our ethnicity data, including our ethnicity pay gap and targets.

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Corporate Affairs, PwC United Kingdom

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