Corporate responsibility

Our goal is to embed this in all we do, but nowhere is it more important and significant than in our global corporate responsibility (CR) strategy, under which we are committed to:

  • Doing the right thing – behaving responsibly on issues that are central to our business and to society; and
  • Being a catalyst for change – using our skills, voice and relationships to influence and work with others to make a difference, generate change and create a lasting impact on the world around us.

Our CR strategy is tailored to our specific strengths and opportunities as a network of professional services firms. It’s also designed to enable us to apply our skills in ways that deliver measurable outcomes and create both business and social value.

This strategy has now been embraced by all PwC firms. Over the next few pages, we’ll demonstrate our progress.

Generating societal benefits through responsible business

Aside from specific CR activities, we generate a range of benefits to society through the services we provide to clients and our responsible approach to business.

Many of our services help to underpin ethics, transparency and trust in a broader business context and contribute to economic development. Examples include our work in international development, human rights, disaster recovery, fraud prevention and management of international aid funds.

For example, PwC China launched its Strengthening Donor Communications and Mentoring project to help NGOs understand impactful reporting, good governance and robust internal controls. Sessions were run in Beijing and Hong Kong benefiting over 100 NGOs.

We’re also using our distinctive skills and expertise to create new client services that help others build more transparent, responsible businesses. For example, while our market-leading Sustainability and Climate Change services have been established for many years, we continue to invest in research and innovation to support efforts to address the opportunities and risks raised by environmental and social challenges.

Through work like this, we’re helping businesses around the world make corporate responsibility part of ‘business as usual’. Another innovation is PwC Australia’s Indigenous Consulting practice.

To behave responsibly, business needs responsible leaders. We’ve supplemented our existing talent management programmes by developing a CR e-learning module that is available to all our firms. ‘Think Corporate Responsibility’ helps our people understand the social and environmental issues affecting businesses across all industries, whether they’re responding to natural resource scarcity because of climate change, or facing intensifying public scrutiny over business ethics.

Helping entrepreneurs

A social enterprise can be defined as a business that competes to deliver goods and services, but that has a social or environmental purpose at the very heart of what it does, and reinvests its profits towards achieving that purpose. It follows that the social entrepreneurs who lead these businesses create social and economic value for their communities.

Many of our people use their knowledge to help social entrepreneurs maximise value by improving their business skills.

For example, PwC Netherlands organises quarterly master-classes for social entrepreneurs and conducts research into issues such as financing opportunities. In 2014 the firm also launched the PwC Social Impact Lab which provides advice and support to social enterprises. Ronald van Vliet, director of a social enterprise called ‘Specialisterren’, says: “I think it is very good that PwC deploys knowledge and expertise to support businesses such as ours. It services a need. For many people who start a social enterprise, there is plenty of idealism, but the business side is somewhat lacking. It is precisely in this area that PwC can have the most impact.”

PwC Switzerland also launched a successful mentoring programme in 2014 with 100% of the mentors saying they would recommend the programme to their colleagues.

Meanwhile, in Spain, PwC has forged a partnership with Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria and ESADE Business School to run the Momentum Project, which works with social entrepreneurs to develop effective and scalable solutions to environmental and social challenges. Over the past three years, 30 entrepreneurs have participated in the programme, benefiting from training, advisory services and financing.

PwC UK has provided comprehensive support for the School for Social Entrepreneurs for several years, as well as running its own Social Entrepreneurs’ Club, which now boasts more than 200 members. The firm also delivered master-classes for social entrepreneurs on Social Impact Measurement, personal presence and impact, and digital and social media.

Supporting education

Many PwC firms are involved in supporting education. For example, PwC US’s highly successful ‘Earn Your Future’ programme addresses two critical shortfalls in the US education system: financial literacy among young people and financial training for educators. PwC Indonesia is stimulating young people’s interest in becoming auditors by hosting mini-audit experiences with college students, giving them a real taste of what the job involves day to day.

PwC Japan’s career education programmes are aimed at demonstrating the strong links between education and business, as new graduates face problems of irregular employment and leave their jobs early. And PwC Brazil has worked with the FazINOVA business school to develop free online courses aimed at young entrepreneurs; over 12,000 students have registered.

Finally, volunteers from PwC Egypt supported 70 students from 35 universities to build entrepreneurial skills in a competition to develop recycling and waste management solutions.

Our performance

In order to coordinate our CR activities, it is essential that we are able to measure and report on the key performance indicators that are most relevant to our global CR strategy.

As an overall indication of one of our key stakeholders’ views, our Global People Survey revealed that 77% of our people are satisfied with the actions PwC is taking to be socially responsible, and 69% of our people are satisfied that we are responding appropriately to address the impact of our business on the environment. These results continue to improve year on year, and are on par with or better than the external global ‘best in class’ norms.

Additional information on our CR performance can be found on our CR website.

Community engagement

The case studies presented in this chapter highlight just some of the community engagement activities taking place across the network. Over the past year, almost 53,000 PwC people around the world took part in community activities – up from 47,000 in FY 2013, an increase of approximately 13%. PwC firms in Australia, Canada and the US saw particularly impressive growth in the numbers of PwC people involved in community activities.

The number of hours of skilled volunteering and free or heavily discounted professional services that we provided to community organisations also increased to over 600,000 for the first time – a 6% rise year on year. At the same time, we saw a continued reduction in general volunteering hours from 155,000 to 144,000. This shift towards donating our professional skills is a key component of our CR strategy and will allow us to support more sustainable solutions for our communities while also helping to develop our people.

The 21 largest firms in the network also donated nearly US$53 million of cash contributions in FY 2014 as part of an overall financial value of contributions totalling over US$87 million.

Environmental stewardship

At the network level, our focus is on measuring and managing our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. However, many PwC firms often adopt a broader approach to environmental management, focusing on areas such as energy efficiency, waste reduction and water consumption. This is illustrated by the fact that more than half of our largest 21 firms have developed local environmental policies, with the remainder due to have these approved in FY 2015.

Overall, our network’s gross emissions have increased by 10% this year, with growth in emissions from purchased electricity and air travel. Three main factors account for this increase: a rise in emissions in firms across our network that are experiencing strong growth; the inclusion of data from all 21 of our largest firms; and a significant improvement in reporting quality as our data has become more complete.

Many of the firms in the network have been measuring their GHG emissions for a number of years and by the end of 2013, PwC firms representing almost half of our network (by revenue) had achieved overall GHG reductions of between 28-42% against their respective baselines.

Currently, PwC firms representing over 80% of our network (by revenue) have carbon reduction approaches in place, including reduction targets, carbon offsetting and the purchase of green electricity. FY 2014 also showed a 47% increase in avoided emissions from carbon offsets and the purchase of green electricity, resulting in an annual reduction of 3% in our net emissions.

The encouraging improvement in the quality of our emissions data is a reflection of a growing level of understanding in CR teams across the network. However, we believe that there is potential to improve the accuracy and completeness of the reported data even further. This, together with setting a network GHG reduction target and extending the scope of GHG reporting, is a continuing priority.

Progress against our CR commitments

Last year we set out five ambitious commitments that reflect the implementation of this strategy and while we haven’t been 100% successful, we are proud of the results and we have transparently reported our progress on the way to meeting our goal. Read about our progress