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A good diversity policy is a journey, not a destination, but when done right it means the best talent rises to the top—and that means everyone wins, says David Gibbons, Partner, PwC Bermuda.
Why is diversity so important to Bermuda?
It is imperative that everyone is comfortable being their true self at work. Across the global network, PwC believes that cultural diversity is both a business priority and important driver of our business performance. Working and communicating with each other to foster an inclusive environment and successfully leverage our differences is an important business skill that is critical to unlocking the potential of each individual.
Having diverse teams leads to more innovative teams, improved relationships, and increased customer satisfaction.
In a Bermuda context, having a diverse workforce is critical to the long-term success of the firm. Bermuda competes on a global platform in almost every way and must compete for the best and most talented individuals from different races, genders, religions, ages, abilities, or any other dimension of diversity in order to stay relevant in the global marketplace. That said, we must recognise that in Bermuda, like so many places in the world, there is a shortage of diversity in many corporate boardrooms, particularly in the areas of race and gender, and more must be done to embrace diversity in leadership positions locally.
What has your company been doing to promote diversity in Bermuda?
Building a diverse workforce begins with removing bias, whether conscious or unconscious, at the hiring stage. This can prove to be difficult, but by providing our recruiters with appropriate training in how to recognise and remove tendencies towards blind spots or unconscious bias, together with having policies in place with respect to how interviews are conducted, we have an extremely diverse workforce at PwC Bermuda.
In the last 10 years, there has been a shortage of Bermudians entering the accounting profession, which has ultimately led to the current visible shortfall of Bermudian accountants at senior leadership positions across the Island. Further, the profession locally has not represented the community when viewed across racial lines.
In 2009, in response to what leadership could see as a longer term issue for the profession, PwC launched the HeadStart programme, designed to attract and retain talented Bermudian students, and support them in entering the accounting profession, offering scholarships, internships, employment, and mentorship opportunities.
The programme has been highly successful, with over 70 Bermudians from all backgrounds across the Island having obtained their CA or CPA designations since the programme was originally launched. Once people are qualified, the firm leverages the global network to offer regional and global mobility assignments to Bermudian employees who wish to further their careers and increase their global acumen.
Locally PwC also recognises that while there are many success stories, more must be done to promote gender diversity in leadership roles. As a firm, we take part in and celebrate International Women’s Day initiatives locally and across the PwC network, encouraging dialogue, and working to change perceptions regarding women progressing and being successful in the workplace.
The network has done a tremendous amount of work in the area of gender diversity which we leverage at a local level where we can. For example, many of our people in Bermuda have joined PwC colleagues around the world in formally making the HeForShe pledge. HeForShe is a United Nations campaign for gender equality that engages men to become agents of change.
The PwC network’s intention is to increase the engagement and participation of LGBT+ people in the global workforce by fostering a culture where everyone feels included and where differences are valued. PwC Bermuda is proud to be a leader in creating a completely gender neutral and LGBT+ inclusive parental leave policy, designed to recognise that families can be different in their design, but ultimately require the same degree of support for success.
We also recognise that no two people have the same needs and requirements from a work perspective. People are most successful when they have the everyday flexibility they need to meet the demands of their professional life and accomplish the things they identify as priorities outside of their careers.
We have created a flexible work environment where our diverse workforce can have control and influence over how they work and their work-life balance. The ability to work from home, flexible working hours, ‘dress for your day’ workwear policies and a variety of workspaces from which to choose from all contribute to our celebrating and leveraging our differences and working to respect and value them.
Is enough being done elsewhere in the market to promote diversity?
Certainly, conversations regarding D&I are happening more frequently and with what appears to be more intent to make meaningful changes. According to PwC’s recent D&I Benchmarking Survey, organisations are committing to D&I at higher rates than ever, with 87 percent of respondents indicating that D&I is a stated value or priority for their organization.
The survey also found that 78 percent of large organisations are actively trying to recruit more women and 76 percent of organisations have incorporated D&I into their employer brands.
However, one need only look around to see that more must be done. Change isn’t going to happen overnight, and solutions to removing barriers for progression based upon gender, race and other dimensions of diversity are needed.
What do you see as the future for diversity on Bermuda?
Inclusive recruitment is the smart thing to do. It may just be the beginning of this journey for some employers in Bermuda, but at the same time we are seeing many organisations focus increasingly on talent D&I to support their efforts to drive greater innovation and create competitive advantage.
A commitment to inclusive talent processes—underpinned and enabled by an inclusive talent culture, policies and programmes—will enable organisations to create a business model where all talent can prosper. Because when the best talent rises to the top, everyone wins.
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