Dion Shango, Africa Central and Southern Africa CEO, PwC South Africa
Having reached a rare level of success in a region, industry and profession fraught with barriers, Dion Shango is committed to being an agent of change by making sure people inside and outside PwC – especially people of colour and women – have access to opportunity, regardless of their background.
As a beneficiary of a bursary from PwC South Africa to aid with the cost of his schooling and training early on, Dion believes in “providing opportunity with an open mind,” never taking his own blessings for granted. He is also mindful of his upbringing in a Mamelodi township, paying tribute in particular to the strong women who influenced and shaped him. Like his grandmother, who instilled in him the values of discipline, hard work and perseverance. Through those inspirations, Dion is redefining and rewriting the approach to inclusion and diversity (I&D) at PwC South Africa, across the African region and at PwC globally. His ethos is that we need to be both deliberate and intentional when it comes to I&D.
“It's important that as part of leaving a legacy, those of us who've been blessed with certain opportunities, such as working for a great firm like PwC, actually leave a mark and make a difference. We can’t waste this opportunity.”
As a young boy who had what seemed like a lofty dream to become a chartered accountant, Dion admits his eleven year old self would struggle to believe what he has achieved in his career. After quickly rising through the ranks to become the first black man to be appointed Regional Senior Partner of PwC South Africa, Dion later expanded his responsibility from local to continental when he was named Territory Senior Partner (TSP) of PwC Africa Central and Southern Africa in 2019. While he credits the amazing sponsorship and mentorship he was exposed to through the course of his career progression, he did notice that he didn’t often have the opportunity to look up and see someone who looked like him. Dion has always been a strong believer in the power of diversity and now, as the leader at the helm, Dion is motivated to transform the workplace by harnessing the power of diversity and inclusion, building trust and providing opportunity.
For Dion, a key part of this transformation is making the firm more representative of the demographics of the societies in which it operates. Dion strives to be a model of fair representation and has made great progress towards the goals he set in this area since his election to TSP, at which point PwC South Africa had 32% Black* partners. With Dion’s hard work and dedication, the firm reached the milestone of 40% Black partners in July of 2022.1 Meanwhile, across the region the percentage of female partners increased from 22% to 28% during the same timeframe.2 Dion acknowledges the progress, but in the same breath is crystal clear on his aim to build further on this progress in the coming years.
To Dion, I&D is key to supercharging all other parts of the firm, which is why it was an easy decision to make it a key part of his leadership agenda. Part of Dion’s agenda as the Senior Partner is to continue uniting the PwC Africa region. Because it is made up of many countries and cultures, Dion sees an opportunity to bring these separate firms together for powerful change by building trust with his leadership team, his partners across the region, and the clients and communities they serve. Dion recognises that inclusion and diversity are inherent to strengthening the region so that it is best positioned to build trust and deliver sustained outcomes for their clients and their people.
“I want to contribute towards the improvement of trust, not only with our clients, but internally as well. The next big goal I am setting, for myself and my leadership, is to be remembered for having improved trust and transparency within our partnership.”
Dion is not only expanding his own firm’s efforts through a strategic plan of action that includes diversity training and leadership accountability, he is also supporting the global I&D strategy through his seat on the Global I&D Council. Dion’s role as leadership sponsor of the global Inclusive Mindset knowledge badge helps him further this goal. This self-paced digital learning experience enables PwC solvers across the world to build inclusive leadership skills and improve their ability to listen to those around them, learn from the experiences of others and to create change through their everyday actions. Dion is proud to endorse learning that signifies what he champions every day.
“If we get inclusion and diversity right, the firm will just fly.”
Dion endeavours to leave a mark and make a difference. Over his 20+ years with PwC, Dion has helped to significantly advance PwC’s culture of inclusion and belonging but he isn’t slowing his efforts. To honour his belief that inclusion and diversity are an imperative for future success, he’s continuing to make bold plans for the future.
Dion is also a strong advocate of establishing work life boundaries, particularly to spend quality time with his wife and three children. One of his favourite things to do is travel with his family. He loves the quality time together it provides. Despite not being as good as he would like to be, he also has a passion for playing golf and enjoys watching all kinds of sports on TV.
*Black includes African Coloured and Indian (ACI), which is a formal race classification in South Africa
1. PwC South Africa Partner Affairs Data, July 2022
2. PwC Africa Central and Southern Africa Partner Affairs Data, July 2022
From your experience, how do you sum up Inclusion & Diversity at PwC?
What should others know about PwC’s commitment to Inclusion & Diversity?
As a people organisation that is purpose-led and values driven, I&D is a critical component of our business agenda. It is imperative for us to not only reflect the world we operate in, but to create opportunities for all to fully engage and participate.