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June 11, 2020

Black Lives Matter – update by PwC UK Chairman Kevin Ellis

By Zoya Malik

On 10 June, PwC Chairman and Senior Partner Kevin Ellis chaired a live webcast for all UK employees to discuss Black Lives Matter

The candid conversation, watched live by 8,000 employees who submitted 500 questions, centred on where PwC is on racial equality, barriers to progress being made, the specific actions the firm has already committed to – and new actions being announced. Kevin was joined on the webcast by three of PwC’s leaders, Teresa Owusu-Adjei, Albertha Charles and Tunji Akintokun who agreed fair work allocation, supportive relationships and tackling micro-aggressions as being key to improving inclusivity and equality at work.

Kevin Ellis, Chairman and Senior Partner, PwC UK, said: “It should not have taken the events of the past few weeks to serve as a wake-up call, but it has. We need to redouble our efforts to improve racial equality at PwC and this includes having more candid conversations about race.   

“Yesterday I hosted a live webcast on Black Lives Matter for all PwC staff in the UK. It was the most uncomfortable webcast I have ever hosted but the danger when you’re uncomfortable is that you shy away from talking. To move the conversation on, the conversation has to happen, so it’s time for many of us to step up and get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

“I was joined on the webcast by three of our Black leaders, who shared their experiences growing up navigating the sorts of daily prejudices that I have never had to face. Their stories and their asks of us all were powerful. But it is not up to our Black colleagues to educate others. We all have a responsibility.

“We are a few years into our plans to create a more inclusive workforce, including how we allocate work and nurture relationships more fairly. For example, we’re entering our fourth year of voluntarily publishing our ethnicity pay gap and the data has shown us that a lack of representation at senior levels is one of our biggest issues. We now have career progression coaches in place for high potential Black directors. 

We want to accelerate those plans but we also want to do more. 

Today we announced:

  • mandatory unconscious bias training for all staff; 
  • wellbeing support for those affected by the Black Lives Matter movement;
  • an increase in support of social enterprises founded and run by Black leaders; 
  • work to identify charities we can support with donations and volunteering, which will allow us to maximise the number of Black beneficiaries we can reach;
  • a staff diversity council, in addition to our existing Partner diversity council, to make sure all voices are heard and represented as we continue to listen and use our people’s feedback to take further action to do better.

We have a long way to go but there is huge momentum across the firm.”

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