PricewaterhousecooPersPricewaterhouseCoopers:embedding a shared vision ina network of individuals,and in a sector perceived tobe homogeneousHow a global consultancy created a working environment thatencouraged and enabled its staff to see their role as something morethan providing business solutions.
PricewaterhousecooPersAs Moira Elms, PwC Brand and Communications Leader, explains:“Marketing people need the good news, because that’s what they use to market us,so we aim to meet with both the leadership team and the marketing people todiscuss the findings and solutions, so that the bad news doesn’t get swept underthe carpet.”UNDERSTANDING PWC’SDISTINCTIVENESS, ASINFORMED BY THEIR RESEARCHThe fact that PwC conducts extensivereputation research is indicative of theorganisation’s aim to represent something morethan being technically competent and makingmoney. It wants to be a role model and enableits staff to develop to their full potential. Whenrunning for election, the current senior UKpartner Ian Powell said, “I don’t want to presideover an organisation that is profitable but selfish.We need to be willing to do the right thing byour people, our clients and the communities inwhich we work.”Like most large organisations, PwC has had acorporate responsibility programme in place foryears. However, what has changed morerecently is a shift from this being viewed as aseparate programme to the way business isgenerally conducted at PwC.In practice, this means that PwC collaborateswith organisations that have synergies with itsown activities, such as youth employment oreducation. Furthermore, its support is aboutmore than just giving financial aid on a year-byyearbasis – PwC will share its expertise andskills, and offer mentoring and other support asappropriate. When it does donate money, thiswill be guaranteed for a specified number ofyears, so that the recipient organisation can planeffectively, with advance notice given if it is notto be renewed.One of PwC’s long term partnerships is withthe Globe Theatre in London. For more thanten years, the Our Theatre partnership hasreached over 4,500 children from some 50schools in south London. The theatre’seducation department uses Shakespeare as ameans to help students develop key skills suchas confidence, effective listening andcollaboration. In related initiatives, PwC staffvolunteer in local schools to assist withreading and at the Globe on teacher trainingdays. The programme is so successful that asimilar scheme is now running at Manchester’sExchange Theatre, again supported by PwC.DEVELOPING AND EMBEDDINGTHE PWC EXPERIENCEPwC had an expression – ‘the PwC experience’– which is a contract between the organisationand the individual, whether they are a partner,an employee, a client or a member of thecommunity. The organisation now wanted thisethos of corporate social responsibility to bepart of everything it did.For example, PwC decided that it would nottake work for revenue and to maintain itsmarket position, if it was damaging tocommunities and/or did not fit with what itwanted to be as an organisation. Working withits leaders to this end, it developed strong clientacceptance procedures monitored by teams ineach country and an overall framework toshape how the organisation works across itsterritories.Convincing leaders across the PwC network tobuy into this approach to the work they wouldand would not take was not easy. Partners liketo feel they can be autonomous and free to beentrepreneurial in their own areas. A significantdriver for the leadership accepting this newpositioning was the competitive environment.When faced with a rival business going all outfor growth/scale to replace PwC as numberone in their market, the partners could see thatthis was a good alternative – being top fortalent and integrity rather than for size. Thismeans that there are now times when thecompany will not pursue particular clients oraccounts.GIVING PROSPECTIVEEMPLOYEES A COMPELLINGPROPOSITION – THE CHANCETO MAKE A DIFFERENCEAs PwC developed its approach to clients itwas simultaneously creating an opportunity thatappealed to the discerning, talented pool ofpotential staff that it targeted. Working for PwCdoes not just offer the financial and statusbenefits of working for a respected, globalnetwork, it also gives employees the chance tomake a difference to others.PwC encourages its staff to use their core skillsto help organisations that could never affordtheir time and raise awareness of all theopportunities that are available. In the UK forexample, there is a PwC team who go out toorganisations like schools and third sectororganisations and find out what their employeesmight be able to do to help.Staff time is allocated to assisting these externalorganisations. Employees set themselves targetswhich are tracked and discussed with theirmanagers, who also obtain feedback from theplaces where they work. Some employees alsohave their own projects that they are passionateabout and PwC can offer some match funding.Between officially-sponsored projects andpersonal projects, around half of PwC’s UK staffare involved in community projects. Crucially,PwC’s communities programme involves its staffin areas using their professional skills rather thanmany large companies’ rather more traditional,slightly random approach to community service.
PricewaterhousecooPers“Bright people tend to think that whenthey’ve sent out a communication, nexttime they need to say something different.Actually you don’t. You have tocommunicate and communicate, puttingthe same thing in different ways anddifferent places. And when you are sick ofsaying the same thing you’re just starting toget through the barriers to people actuallyreading it and retaining it andunderstanding it. So we’ve been reallydisciplined about communicate,communicate, communicate.”MOIRA ELMS,PwC BRAND AND COMMUNICATIONS LEADERwww.distinct.ac.uk