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Standing up with pride to challenge and foster discussion

June 14, 2021

Jacob Young is a manager in PwC Canada’s cyber and financial crime practice, specializing in strategy and operations for financial services clients. In both his daily work with clients and his efforts to promote inclusion and diversity, Jacob feels supported by his colleagues and the leadership team to be authentic and bring his whole self to the job.

If there’s anything he’s learned on his journey so far, it’s the importance of seeking out places and environments that celebrate you for who you are. “Spending effort trying to fit in is wasted energy,” he says. “Finding places that allow you to be who you are is a far better use of your time.”

Jacob Young

Career path at PwC Canada

Jacob graduated with a double bachelor’s degree in business administration and management and psychology from Western University, where he was active in a number of clubs and student engagement groups. He began at PwC Canada as an associate in the Foundations for the Future program—a two-year program that provides learning experiences across PwC Canada’s core consulting teams.

From there, he became a senior associate in the financial services group. “I’d always been fascinated by the banking industry and the broader financial services industry, because it touches everyone—every culture and society, no matter who you are or where you live. It underpins how the world works,” Jacob explains.

Over the next few years, after learning more about the industry, and having built a reputation internally as a passionate go-getter, he’d reached a point where he was ready for the next chapter. His PwC Canada mentors noticed and asked if he wanted to talk about it. “It was a transformative experience. They restored my self-confidence and gave me the push I needed to leave the comfort of what I was doing.”

With PwC Canada’s support, Jacob began exploring and trying new things. His coaches and mentors suggested he join the cyber, privacy and financial crime team—a budding group that would offer fascinating opportunities. He’s now been with this team for two years and loves the challenges it provides.

Creating safe and inclusive spaces

Ultimately, he says, it’s important to find a role and a place where you feel comfortable being yourself. Helping to create these safe spaces is just one of the reasons Jacob is actively involved with Shine, PwC Canada’s inclusion network for the LGBTQ2+ community and allies. Currently acting as one of its co-chairs, Jacob has been involved with Shine ever since joining the firm.

“When you’re putting yourself in front of clients, you want to do the best job you can. If your brain is distracted by putting up a façade, then you can’t put all your intellectual capacity into the work you’re doing,” he says. Building a safe-space culture within the firm and its teams gives people the confidence to be who they are, enabling them to perform their best work. Jacob feels PwC Canada is doing an excellent job reinforcing this message by supporting strong inclusion and diversity programs and networks.

Over the past year, one of Shine’s priorities has been creating more awareness and education around inclusive language at the firm. As part of this initiative, Jacob has worked with other Shine members to update the firm’s human capital policies. Another of Shine’s priorities has been working with other inclusion networks in the firm to amplify the voices of other underrepresented groups. Shine is also looking outside the firm and exploring how to partner with some key clients to hold joint events related to inclusion and collaborate across industries to move the dial.

Having a voice on the Staff Council

Jacob has also just completed a term on PwC Canada’s Staff Council, an advisory group to the CEO and leadership team. Made up of PwC Canada employees from across the country representing different lines of service, the council provides feedback on new or proposed initiatives. “It’s a way for leadership to test ideas and get the pulse of the people,” Jacob explains. “It shows the emphasis PwC puts on people and that leadership cares what employees think.”

For example, through his work on the council, Jacob recently contributed to the development of a new financial product for employees. His feedback on the initial proposal sparked a conversation, and he was invited to participate in further meetings with the provider. The new product is now available to PwC Canada employees. “Financial and mental health are closely linked,” Jacob says. “I believe this product shows our commitment to wellness, because it supports employees by giving them access to the best tools for financial health, such as helping people get easier access to mortgages at better rates.”

Finding a place to be yourself

Both in his personal career and in his work with Shine and the Staff Council, Jacob feels he has been actively supported and encouraged by his PwC Canada mentors, coaches and the leadership team. This has allowed him to be his authentic self at work and feel a strong sense of belonging.

Through his work with clients and within the firm, Jacob continues to be a passionate champion of important issues. “Fostering discussion, bringing strong ideas and working together—that’s how we can solve our biggest challenges,” he says.