PwC’s purpose - to build trust in society and solve important problems - guides us when it comes to our impact on society and our planet. Making this impact as positive as possible is arguably more important than anything else, and as a community of solvers, we are determined to bring the best of our people, powered by technology, to help tackle society’s biggest challenges and deliver sustained outcomes. We believe that economic and social progress need to be recoupled in order to create a more sustainable, equitable and just world. The foundation for this broad effort lies in our commitment to furthering progress towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are critical to addressing the design problems in our economy. After all, business does not prosper in societies that are not prospering.
To support these efforts and fulfil our purpose, PwC is taking proactive measures in the following ways:
Advancing on our commitments to inclusivity and upskilling in our communities through our New world. New skills. programme;
Reducing our network’s environmental footprint while working with people and organisations to support their Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG), climate change, and Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) transformation;
Providing support for COVID-19 relief efforts; and
Engaging with regulators and policymakers to advocate for much-needed reforms.
We believe that everyone at PwC should be able to have a positive impact on society and the planet, both through the paid work we do for clients and beyond.
We deliver this support in three ways:
Pro-bono work. Across the network, we engage in a broad range of pro- and low-bono projects that are conducted with the same combination of expertise and commitment that we put into our client work. This work spans support for small local charities through to national and global civil society organisations. In 2021 our people continued to contribute their professional skills to pro-bono support for charities and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) worldwide. Many of these organisations are on the front line providing support to communities that continue to be affected by the pandemic.
Collaborating and policy engagement. We believe that collaborating with other organisations to advance global public policy and dialogue is crucial to achieving the degree of system change now needed to recouple economic and social progress. We have played an active role on a range of public policy issues, including supporting the development of non-financial reporting standards and working with UNICEF in support of Generation Unlimited on the skills agenda, as well as joining the Business Ambition for 1.5C and the UN’s Race to Zero campaigns to demonstrate our commitment to achieving a net zero economy.
In October 2018, we set an ambitious global target for our community corporate responsibility programmes across our 21 largest firms: to invest in the future and growth of 15 million people, NGOs, and social and micro enterprises to help them maximise their potential by 2022. We are proud to report that we have surpassed this goal in 2021, one year ahead of schedule.
Coming together in the fight against COVID-19
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, we understand and appreciate the financial burden that the crisis has imposed on communities, and we have remained fully committed to maintaining our financial investments as compared to 2020. Given the immediate needs of some communities, many of our territory programmes have pivoted completely to providing much-needed, on-the-ground support for direct COVID-19 relief.
The PwC network came together this year to support our colleagues and their families in India, as well as providing broader support to local relief organisations. Donations were made from across our network to provide oxygen concentrators, personal protective equipment (PPE) and urgently-needed medical supplies to front-line hospitals and other health facilities. Financial donations were directed to local and international NGOs to help them support the most vulnerable individuals and communities across the country. PwC India worked closely with state governments nationwide to combat COVID-19 in the following ways:
In Madhya Pradesh, PwC India worked with the government as they set up a ‘COVID-19 Combating Centre’ in the city of Bhopal. PwC India assisted the authorities in streamlining all their crisis management processes and repurposing their existing infrastructure and command centres, and converting them into a crisis management unit - impacting over 80 million people across 55 districts in the state. PwC India also worked to deliver citizen connect and collaboration platforms to assist in gauging sentiment among citizens, as the authorities closely monitored people’s concerns.
In the city of Guntur in Andhra Pradesh, PwC India partnered with the Department of Horticulture (DoH) to assist 1,300 local farmers hit by the complete lockdown imposed as a result of COVID-19. PwC India worked with the DoH to develop and optimise operations, safe harvesting (while maintaining COVID-19 protocols), transportation and logistics management including last-mile delivery, helping farmers market their perishable produce directly to households amid the lockdown. The programme, which provided the farmers with 15% to 20% of incremental income during the lockdown period, proved to be a successful model for linking farmers to consumers and vice versa - creating a sustainable and replicable business model for the future.
Operating in 156 countries, we consistently see two major societal challenges that impact every region and society: inclusivity and environmental sustainability. When we talk about inclusivity, we mean the need for people to have equal access to opportunities, resources and skills so that everyone can achieve their full potential. When it comes to environmental sustainability, we focus mainly on action to address climate change.
Additionally, we believe there are underlying systemic issues that need to be addressed. That is why we are actively supporting a dialogue aimed at reshaping how market economies function, and ensuring the rules and norms that govern corporate behaviour reflect the priorities of the 21st century and help build sustainable economies that work for everyone.
PwC’s efforts to engage with key stakeholders to discuss how these issues affect us all include working with the Global Solutions Initiative (GSI) - a global forum for different stakeholders and a network of world-renowned think tanks to collaborate on policy responses to major global problems addressed by the G20, the G7 and other global governance forums. Our collaboration with GSI has grown out of the need to provide a more integrated, coherent response to pressing societal issues across different stakeholder groups, including business.
Part of our work with the GSI is in support of its Global Solutions Summit. This event helps business leaders and policymakers collaborate on issues of global importance, with a focus on bringing about systemic change to ensure our economies deliver sustained outcomes for societies.
If we are to increase inclusivity and create an economy that benefits and serves the interests of society, we need to prepare people properly for the jobs they do today - and also the jobs they will do tomorrow. This is particularly true in the wake of COVID-19, which has upended the livelihood of millions of people around the world, exposed structural weaknesses in institutions and economics, widened existing disparities and hit the already disadvantaged particularly hard. Simply put, the technological change now underway is of such scope and speed that it requires an urgent global upskilling effort, and - if left unaddressed - poses serious societal and economic risks. That is why we are committed to action that improves inclusivity and enables more people to participate in and benefit from the economy, and from societal progress more broadly. Our biggest global programme in this area is New world. New skills., through which we seek to enable more people to gain the digital skills they will need for success in the future
Our New world. New skills. initiative is aimed at addressing the mismatch between the skills people have today and those needed for the digital world. Of the 4.3 million people, NGOs and social and micro enterprises we reached last year through our community programmes, over 50% (2.7 million) were involved in New world. New skills. initiatives.
The jobs of the future will require skills that are harder to come by for many, especially in communities where opportunities are scarce. Research figures paint a stark picture. One-third of young people surveyed by UNICEF said they lacked opportunities to acquire skills for the future, and it’s estimated that around 20% to 40% of the jobs currently held by 16-24 year olds are at risk of automation by the mid-2030s. Since the start of 2020, as the pandemic has caused essential activities and services - including education, training and many jobs - to move online, the challenges for young people around the world to get or stay connected have only increased. To help address the pressing global issue of youth upskilling, PwC in 2020 announced a three-year collaboration with UNICEF in support of Generation Unlimited. Our collective aim is to help upskill millions of young people around the world. We were proud to release a first report, Stepping Forward: Connecting today’s youth to the digital future, which calls for a new type of collaboration involving many parts of society - governments, global institutions, communities and youth - and discusses the stepping stones needed to help young people to cross the digital divide.
Our collaborations address both global and local upskilling challenges. In South Africa and India we are working with teams on the ground to develop and expand current programmes. In South Africa we’re collaborating to support young women in developing Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) skills, with a focus on young people who are unable to receive a university education. In India we’re supporting Generation Unlimited - called YuWaah! in India - to help transform education, skilling and employment for India’s 300 million-plus young people.
On World Youth Skills Day, Bob Moritz, PwC Global Chairman and Generation Unlimited’s Nadi Albino held a virtual dialogue session with young people to hear directly how COVID-19 has impacted them, and discuss the skills they’ll need to reimagine their role and thrive in a post-COVID world.
Also, addressing the United Nations General Assembly, Bob Moritz discussed the role Generation Unlimited plays in upskilling young people and connecting them to opportunities for employment, entrepreneurship, social impact and prosperity.
PwC is also a member of the World Economic Forum Reskilling Revolution, an initiative that aims to provide one billion people with better education, skills and jobs by 2030.
Helping to build inclusivity and upskill communities
Across our network, PwC member firms are having a positive impact, helping to build inclusivity and upskill their communities through various initiatives. Examples include:
PwC China: Tech Carnival for rural students
Collaborating with Adream Foundation, an NGO, PwC China has been working to help close the skills and opportunity gap, developing curricula and programmes that provide quality education to students in rural and underserved communities throughout China. Recently they delivered a ‘Tech Carnival’ to students from rural schools across Jiangxi Province, China. The carnival brought to life the importance of digital skills and design thinking for nearly 20,000 students.
PwC UK’s Social Mobility Community Programme focuses on supporting disadvantaged school students, undergraduates and other groups who could benefit from greater social mobility such as refugees and PwC UK Social Entrepreneur Club members. The programme brings together a community of PwC UK professionals, all of whom are passionate about delivering upskilling opportunities in their local regions.
18 million+ beneficiaries reached, achieving our ambition one year ahead of our 2022 target year
PwC remains deeply committed to helping to end systemic racism and injustice around the world. We have continued our efforts within our network while also working with other business leaders and marshalling support and resources externally.
PwC US is proud to have co-founded the CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion, a CEO-led business community dedicated to supporting more inclusive workplaces. Since its launch, nearly 2,000 CEOs and Presidents have pledged to support a more inclusive workplace for employees, communities and society at large. Collectively, the organisations involved employ nearly 13 million people across the United States.
At the same time, through PwC US’s Skills for Society programme, our PwC US employees have worked with more than 300 NGOs. Using the skills and experience they bring to client work, our people are helping these non-profits digitally transform and address operational challenges, boosting their ability to tackle injustice in the US.
PwC US has also recently committed US$125 million to help prepare 25,000 Black and Latinx college students for their business careers. The goal is to hire 10,000 students over the next five years to support the firm's efforts to attract a more diverse workforce and to connect students to other organisations and career opportunities. This commitment supports PwC’s global strategy, The New Equation, which looks to create powerful new combinations through widely different perspectives.
PwC UK is working with 25 black-led charities and social enterprises to support their work across a range of activities from helping pregnant women seeking refuge in the UK to empowering school children from ethnic minority backgrounds. In addition, PwC UK has formed a partnership with the Refugee Council to help refugees in the UK get back into the job market by providing training on employability skills, including working on professional communication and interview practice and also seeking out opportunities for refugees to join PwC UK.
PwC Canada is a founding sponsor of The Onyx Initiative, a non-profit designed to help Black college and university students join the corporate workforce.
Black students often contend with smaller professional networks and a lack of mentorship opportunities. As a result, talented candidates and future leaders are too often excluded from the recruitment talent pool. The Onyx Initiative will support Black students and recent graduates with coaching and online training on important job-hunting skills, including crafting a cover letter and preparing for a job interview. It will also connect students with prospective employers, including PwC Canada.
As an Onyx founding sponsor, PwC Canada is contributing substantial expertise and experience to further enhance and finalise the Onyx model. The commitment includes providing vital information, ongoing resources, and working closely with educational partners to support student placement opportunities for Canada’s Black students.
Environmental sustainability is a core focus for PwC and we’ve been a proud signatory to the UN Global Compact (UNGC) since 2002. We remain deeply committed to operating responsibly in line with the UNGC’s ten principles.
As outlined in PwC’s global strategy, The New Equation, PwC has committed to achieving net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2030. Our net zero commitment will require us to transform our business model to decarbonise our value chain, increase transparency, and support the development of robust ESG reporting frameworks and standards. The PwC network will also engage with clients and suppliers to support them in tackling their climate impact.
PwC’s net zero commitment involves four key areas:
Operations: We will reduce our greenhouse gas emissions in line with what is required to limit warming to 1.5°C above the pre-industrial level, limiting the worst impacts of climate change. This includes a 50% reduction in scope 1 and 2 emissions and a 50% absolute reduction in business travel emissions from a 2019 base by 2030. In addition, we will accelerate our transition to 100% renewable electricity. And to mitigate our impacts today, we will continue to offset our emissions through high-quality carbon credits.
Clients: We will work with our clients to support their efforts to make a net zero future a reality for all. This will involve building on our existing client work in sustainability and net zero transformation.
Climate agenda: We will continue our long-standing programme of research and collaboration with business, policymakers and NGOs to accelerate the transition to a net zero economy.
Since announcing our net zero commitment in September 2020, we have been working with our member firms to develop the foundations needed for us to reach our 2030 commitment. For example, we have:
Put in place a global governance framework to support business ownership and accountability.
Appointed Net Zero Business Leaders in each of our firms to support progress towards our global commitment.
Established global workstreams in core areas to support our implementation of net zero-related initiatives and provide a consistent framework for action. And provided a suite of guidance materials to help our PwC firms produce their own internal roadmaps and strategic net zero plans.
Carried out milestone and progress mapping, enabling us to check that we remain on track at both a global and local level.
Set the ambition to be fully aligned to a 1.5 degree scenario across our scope 1 and 2 emissions as well as our largest scope 3 emissions.
Committed to the Business Ambition for 1.5C and the UN’s Race to Zero campaigns.
Affirming our approach to emissions reduction targets
We have received validation for our climate targets from The Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi). We were proud to receive the SBTi’s validation, which affirms our approach and timeline to achieve our emissions reduction targets in line with a 1.5 degree scenario. The Science Based Targets initiative is a collaboration between CDP, the United Nations Global Compact, World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).
Conducted an analysis of our supply chain and set a target to work with suppliers that share our level of climate ambition.
Extended our commitment to sourcing 100% renewable electricity to all of our operations in all 156 countries by 2030.
Developed an enhanced reporting framework to include all PwC member firms and operations across our global network, as well as expand what we measure and report to account for our wider climate impact. From 2023, we will report annually and transparently on our progress towards our net zero targets.
We continue to be active in the global climate conversation and have recently:
Joined the LEAF (Lowering Emissions by Accelerating Forest finance) Coalition, to support what is expected to become one of the largest ever public-private efforts to protect our tropical forests.
Become a champion for the WEF’s Clean Skies for Tomorrow Coalition to help advance and scale the production of sustainable low-carbon fuels.
Remained heavily involved in vital discussions about climate change issues, including sponsoring New York Climate Week in September 2021, and seconding two climate experts to the Climate Champions team as it prepares for COP26 in Glasgow in November 2021.
Supported an open letter advocating policy change through our membership of the WEF Alliance of CEO Climate Leaders.
Become a founding member of the Net Zero Financial Services Providers Alliance, signing up to the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero commitments in September 2021.
Our net zero commitment builds on our 2018 environmental commitment to drive energy efficiency within our offices, switch to 100% renewable electricity and offset air travel (scope 3) emissions from our 21 largest firms. We are making progress across these areas. With the ongoing impact of the pandemic, we have seen our emissions reduce in line with government lockdown measures in various countries - and with our entire workforce continuing to work from home at various stages throughout the year, we have seen our scope 1 and 2 emissions decline by 13% and 27% respectively. Air travel (scope 3) is our largest source of carbon emissions, and, as expected, we saw a further reduction from last year – of 92% – due to the continuing restrictions on both domestic and international air travel. Our total GHG emissions have reduced by 80% from FY20 levels, with our GHG emissions in FY21 being 87,500 tonnes CO2e compared to 432,372 tonnes CO2e in FY20. In FY21, we bought 83% of our electricity from renewable sources, taking us closer to our goal of becoming 100% renewable by 2022 across our 21 largest territories (FY20: 71%).
We fully recognise the importance of actively reducing the climate impact of our operational footprint today. And to mitigate our impacts further as we work towards our net zero commitment in 2030, we are continuing to support a range of high-quality carbon reduction projects. These projects not only help us to reduce carbon emissions but also enable us to take responsibility for our impact. The initiatives we are supporting have collectively impacted more than 77 million people, protected or restored 510,000 hectares of land, and created over 134,000 new full-time jobs. Find out more about our offset projects.
The biggest environmental impacts from operating our business come from the energy we use to power our offices and from our air travel. We report annually on the areas of our environmental impact that are most material to PwC, namely scopes 1, 2 and 3 (air travel). As a professional services network, our reliance on natural resources and capital is relatively small compared with many other industries. Therefore we do not report on our consumption of fresh water and land use.
Taking steps to address climate change
Our member firms across the world are taking active steps to drive sustainability and address climate change. For example:
PwC Australia has, over a number of years, redesigned all of its nine offices to reduce emissions associated with office energy consumption. Five offices have received an Australian Government National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS) Rating of 5 Stars (“Excellent”) or higher. This includes our Sydney office which, as part of the Barangaroo precinct, is committed to being carbon neutral and water positive and to create zero waste emissions.
PwC Netherlands has implemented an internal price on carbon and is using the resulting budget to fund initiatives that help address the firm’s climate impact. In May 2021, the Environmental Footprints Insights app was released to help PwC Netherlands’ employees understand the impact of their mobility choices. The tool enables both management and employees to plan and carry out their projects more sustainably by tracking the carbon footprint associated with each project’s mobility. The funds generated from the internal carbon pricing have also been used to accelerate PwC Netherlands’ transition to an electric car fleet and support the development of a new production facility for sustainable aviation fuels.
PwC UK’s new office in Belfast, its largest outside London, opened in July 2021 and was designed with sustainability and wellbeing at its heart. It is Northern Ireland's first BREEAM Excellent building, utilising the previous building's existing frame to reduce embodied carbon, as well as consuming no fossil fuels through the use of 100% renewable electricity to heat and cool floors independently on a floor-by-floor basis, thereby maximising efficiency and energy utilisation. The office incorporates meditation pods and offers employees daily exercise classes in Yoga and Body Combat, as well as physiotherapy and other wellbeing services.
PwC Italy's new Milan office - PwC Tower - opened in 2021 and houses over 3,000 staff. It was designed by the Studio Libeskind architectural practice following state-of-the-art building and sustainability criteria. The PwC Tower is LEED certified, has 270 square meters of solar panels and charging stations for electric vehicles, and uses FSC-certified wood throughout.
PwC Tower - Milan
As part of our commitment to optimising our impacts on society and the planet and creating sustained outcomes, we believe there is an urgent need for systemic economic reform to reset incentives and align economic interests with societal interests. This conviction is at the heart of our active engagement in global debates about the future of corporate reporting, as we strive to build integrity and confidence in the capital markets. In our view, greater transparency and consistency in corporate reporting will empower all stakeholders - including shareholders, customers, employees, governments and civil society - to make better decisions.
The past year has seen significant progress on this agenda, with key events - among others - including IFRS Foundation proposals to create an International Sustainability Standards Board to set IFRS sustainability standards, the creation of the Value Reporting Foundation, new guidelines from the SEC on climate disclosures, and the publication of the EU’s Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive.
We have continued to work with a wide range of stakeholders on the quest to develop a common set of non-financial reporting metrics. This has included being heavily involved in discussions around the efforts of five leading standard-setting organisations for corporate sustainability reporting - the CDP, CDSB, GRI, IIRC and SASB - to reach a common understanding.
Examples of our work on reporting include:
Representation on the SASB, and network representation on the Financial Stability Board’s Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures
Responding to the SEC’s request for comment on climate change disclosures - providing perspectives in areas such as rulemaking, minimum disclosure requirements and industry specificity, geography of disclosures, global coordination, and assurance
Helping to shape the application of the SEC’s new principles-based human capital disclosures through publications and interactions with clients and stakeholders
Responding to the IFRS Foundation’s consultation paper on sustainability reporting
Engaging constructively with the European Commission on its draft proposals to reform sustainability reporting, corporate governance and investor transparency around ESG issues
Providing technical expertise to the European Financial Reporting Advisory Group and the European Commission in their preparations for developing sustainability reporting standards, in line with international efforts.
In addition, we have continued our collaboration with the World Economic Forum International Business Council (WEF IBC) to promote the universal set of ESG metrics that it published last year. Following the publication of these WEF IBC metrics in September 2020, over 90 organisations, including PwC, have publicly committed to reporting against these metrics. For the first time, PwC has included a report on its own progress against these metrics in this year’s global annual review.
We also continue to engage with major global organisations including the G20, OECD, UN, EU. And we welcomed the supportive statements made by both the G7 and the G20 on the imperative to cooperate and collaborate on establishing common globally accepted non-financial reporting standards.
When catastrophic events, natural disasters and humanitarian crises occur, our foundations and firms around the world do whatever they can to help the people and communities affected. Here are some examples of the assistance we have provided in response to disasters over the past 12 months:
Healthcare and diagnostic services at Cox’s Bazar Refugee Camps, Bangladesh
Around 880,000 Rohingya refugees live in challenging conditions in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, the world’s single largest refugee camp. The Rohingya rely heavily on humanitarian aid and face persistent risks - as seen in the devastating fire that broke out in March 2021, which damaged key health facilities and left many homeless. This situation was further exacerbated in July 2021 when thousands of people were made homeless by flooding after monsoon rains inundated refugee sites in southern Bangladesh.
Working with a local NGO, Health And Education For All (HAEFA), PwC supported efforts to establish healthcare centres in the Kutupalong and Balukhali camps. These healthcare centres, which were procured through Better Shelter, provide access to quality healthcare services, free of cost, to refugees and the host population. In response to the fire outbreak in March 2021, PwC is supporting the enhancement of these healthcare units to treat burn survivors. Between September 2020 and June 2021, over 137,700 visits to the unit took place.
Understanding the need for the expansion of health services, PwC is supporting the setting-up of a pathology lab by HAEFA which will provide services free of cost for patients at Balukhali camp and subsidised services to other health institutions in the camps. Water, sanitation and hygiene facilities for patients and frontline healthcare staff have also been supported by PwC.
Dispensing medicines at our medical camp in Balukhali Cox's Bazar © Better Shelter 2018
PwC's Global Office for Humanitarian Affairs procured 100 temporary shelter units from the social enterprise Better Shelter to set up temporary extensions for 24 healthcare facilities in remote areas. These facilities are supported by a leading international development agency, the Aga Khan Foundation (United Kingdom), in regions including Afghanistan and Tajikistan. They are being used for triaging, testing, treating, and raising COVID-19 awareness.
This initiative is continuing to help contain the virus by preventing the spread of the infection to other wards within the hospitals, and providing sanitised and isolated spaces for targeted treatment and waiting areas.
Humanitarian support and environmental restoration, Greece
In early August 2021, wildfires in Greece devastated many parts of the mainland and neighbouring island of Evia - a catastrophe described as a “natural disaster of unprecedented proportions”.
The PwC Greece team immediately reached out to the Greek Government to offer its support. That offer was accepted - and today, the PwC Greece Advisory Leader, Κyriakos Andreou, is leading a large-scale pro-bono initiative for the Government. The project involves the PwC Greece team undertaking humanitarian support and environmental restoration as well as animal relief projects, with an army of PwC volunteers standing by ready to provide their skills and time to help with the rebuilding efforts when the time is right.
Financial support for earthquake relief in Haiti
On 14 August 2021, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake caused widespread damage and significant loss of life in south-western Haiti. The then-Prime Minister called a month-long state of emergency as international aid agencies mobilised to provide humanitarian support to those directly affected by the earthquake. PwC's Caribbean region engaged its staff, who wanted to support their local community. This resulted in a US$50,000 donation being made to local relief agencies, raised through a combination of contributions from staff as well as a donation from PwC Caribbean firms.
Expansion of Kawergosk Primary Healthcare Centre in Kurdistan Region of Iraq
Political instability, conflict, economic crises, and the COVID-19 pandemic have severely damaged Iraq’s healthcare services delivery capability. While refugees and displaced persons in Iraq can access free primary healthcare services through camp-based primary healthcare centres and in public health facilities for those living with host communities, limited funding and the pandemic have resulted in increased pressure on health facilities. PwC, in collaboration with UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is supporting the expansion of a primary healthcare centre in Kawergosk that is serving vulnerable displaced people, refugees and host populations.
The Kawergosk Primary Health Care Centre (PHCC) is a public health facility located in the town of Kawergosk, 35 kilometres from Erbil. The existing facility serves more than 15,000 individuals from Kawergosk town and surrounding villages. PwC is supporting the expansion of the PHCC to ensure local people can continue to benefit from its services while frontline health workers can continue working in a safe, secure and sanitised environment. The expanded facility will be operational in early 2022.
Director, Global Corporate Affairs and Communications, PwC United Kingdom
Tel: +44 7803 974136