Black History Month: Fostering Inclusion by Elevating Our Diverse Voices

A workplace is only as strong as its culture, and at PwC, we’re proud that our people – who represent varied experiences, communities and identities – continue to shape who we are as a firm. Through shared cultural experiences and environments that foster diversity of thought and perspectives, we live our values of building on a culture of belonging. That priority extends to how we celebrate heritage months and other holidays and observances that are important to our people.

In February we recognize Black History Month as a time not only for reflection, service to our communities and fostering togetherness, but also an occasion to center joy and pride. A time to celebrate the rich history of the Black community, and to share stories that help forge better relationships and deeper understanding across cultures and communities.  Hear from our people about representation in accounting and beyond, and what makes them feel proud when it comes to Black community and culture.

Q: When you think about Black History Month and the Black community, what do you take the most pride in? 

Samuel Wells: “Our innovative, creative, and resilient spirit. Our culture is the heartbeat of American culture, from our beats and rhymes, to how we talk, the way we walk, and how we dress.  We push the culture forward in every aspect of American life.”

Karen Fraser: “The resilience of the Black community inspires me. Despite challenges, we’re always striving for excellence and to build strong legacies for future generations.”

Evins Trajean: “Our individuality. The idea of coming from different parts of the world and merging here in America is amazing, keeping the culture of where we come from and keeping that originality is something I’m most proud of.”

Malachi Kirk: “I take pride in our ability to always rise. I admire the resilience of our community and the ways we shine outward towards success, despite the circumstances and obstacles set to stop us.”

Q: As a Black professional in accounting, which is a historically underrepresented profession, how has the mentorship and community offered by While You Work – PwC’s CPA Acceleration Program – impacted your journey to becoming a CPA?

Malachi: “While You Work has been pivotal in my journey to becoming a CPA, because it has allowed me to learn amongst like-minded individuals and has exposed me to PwC’s firm culture, which prioritizes diversity and inclusion. This exposure has also allowed me to see what I can accomplish as a CPA, and overall, the program has put me in a position to advance in my career as an accountant. For that I will be forever grateful for this program and for PwC.”

Reine Kodia: “PwC has given me the opportunity to meet other Black accountants through internal programs offered at the firm, such as Thrive. I’ve been able to meet with other black professionals in leadership positions, which has inspired me to pursue my goal of becoming a CPA. The support that I’m receiving by the PwC While You Work team has really defined my experience and I have become more confident personally and professionally because of the program.”

Q: Representation is an important aspect of belonging, how we see ourselves in the world and how we connect with others. Often, the first place we see ourselves is in pop culture. Can you share the story of the first time you saw yourself represented in a meaningful way?

Karen: “The movie ‘Hidden Figures’ portrays three brave African-American women in the workplace who face challenges and have the courage to push boundaries. I love this movie because there aren’t many that portray Black women in the workplace, and there are many lessons that I took away from this movie including the power of sponsorship and advocating for yourself.”

Alyman Outtara: “As an African myself, the movie ‘Black Panther’ had a great impact on me. Wakanda offers a vision of a liberated, empowered and independent African nation that is strong, and successful which is not generally the case in mainstream movies.”

Evins:  ‘Coming to America’ was impactful for me. There were a lot of things I did not understand about America or the American culture, but I knew what it meant to be black in the Caribbean and I knew that was different from being Black in America. ‘Coming to America’  reflects that: being overwhelmed by the difference, but also having a sense of familiarity with other people that look like you. This was a bit familiar for me because when I came to America, I had to hold true to who I was.”

Q: Another fun – and delicious – way to share culture is through food. What dish reminds you most of your upbringing and why?  

Karen: “My family originates from Grenada where the Oil Down (stew of breadfruit with cured meat) is the national dish. Growing up, traditional foods coupled with invigorating spices always brought on a sense of peace and comfort. It reminds me of the multiplicity and diversity of black culture with so many people from all over the world.”

Brigine: “Rice, beans and stew chicken. Growing up, each time we had guests over, my mother would cook that dish. It was an event! It meant we could stay up late, music would be blaring through the house, everyone would be dancing and my dad would spend all night telling funny stories. That dish will forever represent community, for me.”

Evins: “If you’ve never tried Haitian food, make it one of your to-dos! Diri djondjon or black rice, bannan’n peze or plantains/fried bananas, griot or Fried Pork, and pickliz or Coleslaw are some of the best dishes you can taste. Just thinking of these dishes reminds me of my birthplace and the joy we used to have around the dinner table, every Sunday.”

Q: What motivates you to join the accounting profession and why should other Black students and young professionals consider this path?

Reine: “I chose accounting because I like helping clients solve problems and achieving their business goals while I extend my knowledge. Black college students and young professionals should consider accounting not only because it's rewarding, but because they can use their accounting experience to support Black business owners.”

Malachi: “I was motivated to become an accountant by my grandfather, who was one of the founders of the Barbados Credit Union on the island of Barbados, which is where my family comes from. Through his work as an accountant, he left a positive impact on his community by promoting learning, wellness and empowerment through financial literacy. Black students and young professionals should consider this path because as a community, financial literacy is so important and has historically been hard for us to access. Representation in the field creates a sense of comfort and safety about gaining the knowledge and services needed.”

Consulting Solutions Manager Alyman Ouattara

Alyman Ouattara
Consulting Solutions Manager

Products & Technology Director Karen Fraser

Karen Fraser
Products & Technology Director

Products & Technology  Senior Associate Evins Trajean

Evins Trajean
Products & Technology Senior Associate

Consulting Solutions Manager Samuel Wells

Samuel Wells
Consulting Solutions Manager

Business Services  Senior Manager Brigine Marte-Obeng

Brigine Marte-Obeng
Business Services Senior Manager

Malachi Kirk Trust Solutions While You Work Fellow

Malachi Kirk
Trust Solutions While You Work Fellow

Reine Kodia Trust Solutions While You Work Fellow

Reine Kodia
Solutions While You Work Fellow

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Kiva Starr

Kiva Starr

External Communications Leader, PwC US

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