Annual report 2017: Laura Hinton transcript

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I’m Harry, I joined PwC as a higher apprentice 4 years ago, and today I am talking to Laura Hinton our head of people about how our People strategy has been brought to life this year.

Thanks for taking the time to sit down with me Laura, from a people perspective what do you think the key issues have been in FY17?

It’s been quite a year hasn’t it FY17, a lot has been happening and I think without a doubt that has reflected within the firm just in terms of how our people are feeling, and lots of change within the firm as well. Technology is a big disruptor, huge opportunities but actually again there’s a lot of change, there’s a lot for people have to cope with and to make sure we’re really in a good position to be able to respond to that change, we have been looking at our operating model, making sure we have got the right numbers of people in the right place, focused on the right areas and that has meant that some people have left our business this year.  

And that is all very difficult, so I think definitely a year of change, without a doubt people have risen to the challenge and we’re now seeing huge opportunities ahead of us.

So what is the firm doing to address this changing environment?

We’ve been focused a huge amount this year in terms of what our strategy is, so yes from a technology perspective being able to make sure we can respond to the disruptors, but really looking at our strategy across the board and not least from a people perspective. So empowerment is a really core element of our people strategy, really empowering people to be the very best they can be and to reach their full potential. Now that’s in terms of delivering fantastic services to our clients, but in a flexible way that idea of  empowerment is about trust, it’s about allowing people to work in a way that suits them personally, as well as in a way that suits our clients. So we’re focused on everyday flexibility at the moment which is really thinking about how we work, when we work, where we work, what we wear when we’re working, so that our culture supports what we’re trying to achieve in the market and what we’re trying to achieve with our clients. We’re focused on development, we’re focused on giving people great access to brilliant opportunities to work with our clients and all of that is kind of wrapped under this theme of empowerment, linked to our strategy and I think that clarity of thought will really make a difference as we go into this coming year.

We’ve often lead the way in having a diverse workforce, what are we doing to push that this year?

So we’re doing loads of great stuff on diversity, there’s no doubt about it and hopefully leading the way in terms of driving the debate around diversity particularly around gender. If we think about some of the recent conversations around the gender pay gap we were the services firm to publish our gender pay gap under the new government legislation and that was a very specific intent around wanting to really drive that debate so yes we do have a pay gap and we do absolutely need to close that, but we’re prepared to be held accountable for that gap, we’re prepared to have the debate around what is is that is driving the gap, and we’ve got a really clear action plan in terms of how we are going to close that gap. We’ve also done a lot around reporting from a social mobility perspective, if we’re working with more social enterprises and we’ve got some really great people networks not least our LGBT plus network GLEE, do some great stuff in that network and as you know we sponsored Pride in London this year for the first time which was a fantastic event.

And what are we doing specifically in terms of the value of care?

So Care is one of our core values as you know, and I think that for me is a great way to really demonstrate the difference we can make for our people, particularly around the mental health agenda. Now we would love for our people to think as much about their mental health as they do around their physical health, to be able to have conversations to de-stigmatise that topic, and we know we’ve still got some way to go so our green light to talk campaign was a great example of us all wearing our green ribbons to encourage people just to have conversations around their mental health. And this year it was fantastic that it wasn’t just a PwC event but actually went city wide, so many other firms were having those conversations and encouraging people to talk about mental health.

And this year we’re doing some fantastic work with the Samaritans, again on that topic of de-stigmitising mental health.  

Now Google was brought in this year, which had a big impact on the business.  What are we doing in terms of technology going forwards?

So technology is obviously a really important topic to make sure that we are firstly the employer of choice for technologists. So making sure we’re attractive as an employer, we’ve got the right career paths and technologists really see this as the place to be to build their careers is absolutely critical. We also need think about how we deliver all of our services, to our clients not just in the world of technology consulting, so digitising our services and with that comes upskilling of our entire workforce around technology skills. Making sure we all feel able to have conversations with our clients around the impact of technology.

How are we capitalising internally in terms of technology?

When I think about the HR world, we’re implementing Workday this year as a new HR system, and that is a really kind of leading edge development about really being sophisticated in how we use data and how we manage people differently through technology. We’re using artificial intelligence to think about how we resource people to projects and also, thinking about technology more broadly around recruitment, around a system called TalentLink - so how do you find the right people for projects and really importantly how do you make sure that you are found for projects, so linking in to that empowerment agenda as well.

And bringing all that together, how do you see the PwC workforce of the future?

Without a doubt the workforce of the future will be pretty different to it is now, and I’m thinking 3, 4, 5 years away, not necessarily the 10, 15 years away. I think the size and shape of our workforce will inevitably change. We know that Artificial Intelligence and technology will likely replace some of our lower level, our more day to day tasks. Which is a real opportunity because it gives us the ability to focus on building relationships and the added value analysis that our people can really make a difference rather than just the transactional activity.

I think we’ll have more non-traditional working relationships with our people, more contingent workers, more flexible workforce, in terms of being able to bring in very specific skills as and when we need them. Being able to accommodate different working patterns, different working styles and preferences. Not least from a millennial perspective for people wanting to work in a different way. So the whole concept of employer / employee deal will change over the next few years, and I think that’s a great thing, it gives us a real opportunity to rethink some of those traditional models and really go into the future with confidence.

Absolutely, thank you very much.

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