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Building a diverse and inclusive workforce

Global Annual Review 2020

Over the past year, events in the United States triggered a worldwide movement for social justice and equality – proving a stark reminder of the deep-rooted inequalities that are still present in our society. It is clear that our economies aren’t serving the needs of our societies and too many people are being left behind. This issue has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

At PwC, we believe it’s everyone's responsibility to help create a world of equal opportunity where no one is judged by the colour of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, religious beliefs, disabilities or other differences. Many of our member firms have taken additional actions to help address inequalities and are actively reaching out to their people to talk about issues of race and to work together, in order to ensure our Black colleagues feel valued and have the opportunity to reach their full potential. 

A leadership priority

Ensuring everyone feels included and valued at PwC is a priority for the Network Leadership Team. While we are very proud of our efforts to date to foster an inclusive and diverse culture at PwC, and of the recognition we have received as a result of our efforts, it remains critically important for us to do more to drive better results in the area of diversity and inclusion. That is why we have set up an Inclusion and Diversity Council at the global level, rather than naming an individual Global Diversity Leader. The Council includes senior leaders from PwC firms in Asia Pacific, Africa, Canada, China, India, InterAmericas (which covers Panama, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Honduras), Netherlands and the US. Working closely with PwC’s Network Leadership Team, the Council will engage with other senior partners as well as local and regional diversity leaders across the network to drive accountability and accelerate action at a local level. It will also be responsible for determining what programmes, initiatives and policies we should continue, stop, scale or start to make progress on diversity and inclusion. We are excited about the opportunity we have to build on our progress and efforts to date and, with leadership from the Inclusion and Diversity Council, drive bold action and improved results.

Developing inclusive leadership skills in all our people has become more important than ever before. Across our network, we are investing in a variety of ways to help our people identify potential blind spots and biases, deepen their emotional intelligence, demonstrate empathy and create allyship as core leadership skills. We envision these efforts to continue into FY21 and beyond as part of our ongoing commitment to cultivating a culture of inclusion.

Tracking our progress

We employ people from diverse cultures and backgrounds and with a wide range of experiences. And we’re committed to building an environment where all of our people feel they belong and can reach their full potential. To make progress on diversity and inclusion, data on talent is key. Globally, we consistently measure and track gender diversity progress in our staff levels, partnership, and leadership pipeline at PwC, as well as engagement levels across a number of diversity dimensions. We use this data to make strategic decisions.

Given the geographic footprint of the network, we have tremendous racial and ethnic diversity, and within many individual member firms these aspects of diversity will also be measured and tracked. Based on its individual data, each PwC member firm creates and implements annual diversity plans with the full support of that firm’s Territory Senior Partner. At the end of every year, each Territory Senior Partner is responsible for reporting on progress made towards the annual diversity plan, and held accountable for that progress.

Advancing women at PwC

In FY20, 50% of college hires (FY19: 51%) and 47% of experienced hires (FY19: 45%) globally were female.  One of our priorities is to retain a greater proportion of women and increase female experienced hires to achieve higher female representation at senior grades, particularly director. PwC member firms around the world have many different programmes in place to help women reach their full potential. However, our progress has not been as rapid as we would like. We are working hard to accelerate progress by reviewing our recruitment processes for senior roles, offering more mentoring and leadership development opportunities and making more roles open to flexible working for women and men. We are also focusing on gender within technology. A key priority continues to be investing in developing our female talent to build technology services and products that are redefining our network and our clients' future. In FY20, PwC was named one of the Top Companies for Women Technologists by, whose goal is to achieve 50/50 gender representation in the tech industry by 2025.

Female representation in our global workforce
  FY20 FY19 FY18 FY17 FY16
Directors 36% 35% 34% 33% 32%
Senior managers 44% 44% 41% 40% 38%
Managers 47% 46% 46% 46% 46%
Senior associates 49% 50% 50% 49% 49%
Associates 51% 52% 53% 52% 51%

We have also focused on female representation in our member firm partnerships. It takes time for any individual to progress through to partnership. As a result, despite significant leadership focus and attention, progress has been slow. Female representation in our member firm partnerships has gradually increased to 22%, while PwC firms’ female partner internal admissions across the PwC network have remained broadly consistent in recent years.

Female partner representation
  FY20 FY19 FY18 FY17 FY16
Global Leadership team 40% 40% 47% 50% 41%
Network Leadership team 0% 0% 0% 0% 0%
Global Board 39% 33% 33% 33% 11%
Strategy Council 0% 0% 0% 5% 5%
Partners 22% 21% 20% 19% 18%
Internal partner admissions 29% 30% 30% 27% 27%


While the gender balance on our Global Leadership Team is better, we still have much to do to reach gender diversity across our Network Leadership Team and Strategy Council.

At a country level, a number of PwC Strategy Council firms have – or are close to – reaching gender parity on their territory leadership teams, including Australia (44%) and the Netherlands (43%). Other parts of the world where we are seeing progress include PwC firms in Canada (33%) and the UK (31%). In Africa, PwC’s regional leadership team is made up of 44% women, while PwC Southern Africa appointed its first female CEO in 2019.

A critical aspect of ensuring greater gender balance in member firm leadership roles is providing leadership opportunities and experience earlier in female partners’ careers. During FY20, member firms and our Global Financial Services Practice worked together to launch a sponsorship program called Women in Leadership. Its goal is to increase gender diversity in leadership roles and in its first year of operation 14% of the participants were promoted to these roles.

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Fairness in pay

At PwC, we believe in paying people equitably, irrespective of their race, gender or age. PwC member firms regularly conduct comprehensive reviews of compensation data to understand any differences between and among staff. Some member firms may choose to add additional types of pay equity reviews, such as compensation differences among partners, or an analysis along racial/ethnic lines.

Several of our member firms make public disclosures detailing their approach to pay equity, including in Australia, the US, the Netherlands, and the UK, as well as in Switzerland, which has obtained the EQUAL-SALARY certification after having been audited by an independent third party.

Focusing on all dimensions of diversity 

Our commitment to diversity includes all dimensions of diversity, including ethnic and racial, LGBT+, age, disability and thought and skills diversity.

We are a founding member of the Partnership for Global LGBTI Equality, a coalition of organisations working in collaboration with the World Economic Forum to advance global progress for equality and social and economic inclusion for LGBT+ people. In FY20, we had 21 LGBT+ networks across our network (FY19: 20). This year, as pride events were cancelled worldwide, our global Shine networks moved to celebrating pride virtually in Canada, the US, the UK, Australia, as did our community of Europe, Middle East and Africa Shine networks. Find out more and watch our leaders talk about what Pride means to them.

In FY20, we became a signatory to The Valuable 500, a business-to-business initiative catalysing the influence of large private sector corporations to include disability as a dimension of diversity for management and boards. This is part of our commitment to elevating disability and further accelerating the inclusion of persons with disabilities in the workforce and beyond. A number of member firms have also made local commitments, including France, Italy, Switzerland, and PwC Europe. 

Encouraging our people to speak up and act

We believe it’s everyone's responsibility to help create a world of equal opportunity where no one is judged by the colour of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, religious beliefs, disabilities, age or other differences. When we see instances of racism and discrimination, we encourage our people to speak up and act. And many of our firms have taken additional actions to help address potential issues of inequality and discrimination. 

Working to eradicate inequality – in its many different forms – is at the heart of our purpose and helps us bring our values to life. When it comes to diversity and inclusion, we have set the bar high. And while we have more work to do, we’re on the right track. To find out more about our approach, take a look at The PwC diversity journey.


Mike Davies

Mike Davies

Director, Global Corporate Affairs and Communications, PwC UK

Tel: +44 7803 974136


Andrea Plasschaert

Andrea Plasschaert

Senior manager, Global Corporate Affairs and Communications, PwC Switzerland

Tel: +41 58 79 29 123


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Mike Davies

Director, Global Corporate Affairs and Communications, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 7803 974136

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