Last week, PricewaterhouseCoopers revealed that it was making unconscious bias training mandatory for all new hires or employees who receive promotions, Kellye Whitney reported at CLO:
PwC announced this week that to be promoted or to join the firm as a new hire — currently more than 17,000 new hires join the firm each year — an individual must complete “blind spots” training, created to help people recognize unconscious bias related to ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation. PwC’s new 4REAL (Recognize/Explore/Act/Learn) series is a video training curriculum developed to help people make better decisions, drive more inclusive actions and potentially have a positive impact on its teams, clients and, ultimately, society.
PwC was also the force behind the online “Gender IQ” training course launched in October by UN Women’s HeForShe initiative, which the accounting firm developed in-house as a voluntary program for employees. Chief Executive writer Dale Buss hears more from PwC’s US Chairman Tim Ryan about what motivated the firm to make bias training mandatory:
“The recent election [was] a very emotional one for many,” Ryan told Chief Executive. “At a time when it’s easy to focus on our differences, we need to act using our values. Doubling down on diversity [is] a reminder that I fully intend to put our values and purpose into action, reinforcing diversity as a core component of PwC and being a leader within the business community.” …
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Last week, PricewaterhouseCoopers India announced the launch of a program that gives mothers with at least two years’ tenure at the company the option to take as much as three years of child care leave at one time during their employment, PTI reported:
“Our intent with the launch of this programme is to put into practice the deep organisational commitment towards supporting our women employees and their personal needs,” PwC India Chief People Officer Jagjit Singh said.
Some benefits of the programme include continuity of service throughout the programme duration, a mentor to connect with throughout the programme who will also assist in transition back to the firm, access to local firm events and functions and all PwC-related updates and continuity of all health and welfare benefits.
PwC’s new initiative comes at a time when major Indian firms and multinationals operating in India are making aggressive moves to recruit and retain more women. At the start of this year, PwC India more than doubled its maternity leave offering from 12 to 26 weeks, in step with other large employers there, and a bill working its way through the Indian legislature would require all organizations with more than 10 employees to provide women six months of maternity leave.
Unconscious bias is one of the most important and most difficult problems organizations face in advancing diversity and inclusion. At CEB’s ReimagineHR event in Miami in September, D&I leaders identified it as a key challenge that many leaders and HR practitioners are still learning about. At Fortune, Laura Cohn points to a new online training course developed by UN Women’s HeForShe initiative in partnership with PricewaterhouseCoopers that aims to raise awareness of unconscious gender bias and improve participants’ “Gender IQ”:
The course starts with a video of Elizabeth Nyamayaro, who heads the UN’s HeForShe campaign, talking about the reasons behind the program. In the video, she notes that every day, women and girls “are denied basic human rights—we need to do something about that.” It then goes on to explain that the session will not only help you see how unconscious assumptions mold gender norms, roles and relations, it will help you understand the costs involved.
JPMorgan Chase has relaxed its dress code, issuing a memo to employees that they are now allowed to wear business-casual attire most of the time, the Wall Street Journal’s Emily Glazer reports:
In the memo, J.P. Morgan spelled out that athletic clothing, including sweatpants, leggings and yoga pants, aren’t acceptable, nor are halter tops, flip-flops, hats or hoods. “Distracting, tight, revealing or exceptionally loose or low-cut clothing” isn’t allowed either, according to a copy of the dress code. But casual pants, capri pants, polo shirts and dress sandals are OK, according to the dress code. Jeans and athletic shoes aren’t considered business casual unless communicated otherwise by the manager, though they already are allowed at certain sites.
J.P. Morgan said if an employee’s appearance or attire isn’t acceptable under the guidelines, then the person’s manager can ask the employee to leave, change clothes or subject that person to disciplinary action “up to and including termination of employment.”
“Business casual is not weekend casual, and if you’re seeing a client you should dress for that client,” according to the memo.
The change, Glazer adds, is part of an effort “to compete for talent with the likes of Google, Facebook Inc. and hedge-fund firms whose employees favor more comfortable garb.” A similar motive could be discerned in JPMorgan’s decision earlier this year to encourage its bankers to take weekends off: The imperative of attracting a new generation of employees who care more than their elders did about individuality, authenticity, and work-life balance is forcing this legacy firm to revamp its culture.
A lawsuit filed on Wednesday in US federal court alleges that PricewaterhouseCoopers’s recruiting program discriminates against older candidates, primarily by focusing on college campuses, Reuters’ Daniel Wiessner reports:
The lawsuit was brought by Steve Rabin, 53, a certified public accountant who said he was turned down for an accounting job at PwC because the company uses recruiting programs that weed out older applicants. … Rabin is backed by the group AARP, which often gets involved in age bias cases. William Rivera, the group’s senior vice president for litigation, said in a statement that “there is no justification for hiring based on unfounded age stereotypes.”
Rabin is seeking to represent a class of PwC job applicants that could include thousands of people. The company has more than 46,000 U.S. employees, according to its website.
The average age of a PwC worker in 2011 was 27, according to a report the company released that year, and two-thirds of its workers were in their 20s or early 30s. The median age of U.S. accountants and auditors is 43, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.
A spokesperson for PwC told Economia that the allegations were false:
“PwC’s hiring practices offer equal opportunity to all applicants, and the firm devotes enormous resources to recruiting a diverse workforce. Like most employers, PwC recruits at the nation’s colleges and universities, and the firm hires individuals at all experience levels and across the age spectrum,” the spokesperson added.
PricewaterhouseCoopers recently launched an online marketplace where freelancers can apply to work for the accounting firm on a project basis, Claire Zillman reports at Fortune:
If PwC deems them qualified for a specific project, the freelancers will be invited to bid on the job by submitting their per-hour rate. Then it will be up to PwC to decide what workers get the gig. Miles Everson, leader of PwC US Advisory, said the platform will allow the firm to tap into the growing segment of the workforce that’s independent. “We’ve seen a big increase in the freelance workforce,” he told Fortune on Monday. Part of that trend is driven by demographics—mainly people retiring. But there are other people who are voluntarily “choosing to move around,” Everson said. “They’re building micro-entrepreneur careers by moving from one set of projects and experiences to another.” …
PwC’s new platform called “Talent Exchange” is only available in the United States and is primarily geared toward the firm’s consulting business. It launched February 8 and as of Friday had garnered 4,650 registrants. Everson said PwC is still determining what percentage of applicants actually come away with a job, but he projected that freelancers will eventually make up 10% of the firm’s consulting workforce in the U.S., which now stands at 13,000.
As HRE’s Andrew McIlvaine notes, PwC’s Talent Exchange is an in-house example of a service many vendors, including Upwork and LinkedIn, have begun offering to connect freelance talent with potential clients, including large organizations:
In the Washington Post, Petula Dvorak wonders why businesses bother to open this week:
We’re in the office dead zone, the abyss between Christmas and New Year’s. Whether you’re a lawyer, an investment banker, the sandwich guy or the salad lady, this feels like Zombie Week. Does it have a name? “Slothivus”? “Slogmas”? In Norway it does. “Romjul,” explained Marianne Knight, administrative officer for the Norwegian Embassy in the District. “We call that week romjul. It goes way back, from the old Norse. It means half-holy,” said Knight, from her American-style workday, where she’s heating up Christmas dinner leftovers in the embassy microwave. In Norway, romjul is a week of half celebrations — not quite the solemnity of Christmas nor the glee of New Year’s. “The typical thing to do in Norway is visit family, visit friends, and you eat and you eat and you eat,” she explained. Instead, here in America we have this weird half-workweek. Halfhearted. Half-staffed. A nearly somnambulant purgatory of halvishness.
Dvorak’s counterexample isn’t entirely apt, since Norway doesn’t shut down for the whole week (only December 25 and 26 are public holidays), but at least the Norwegians admit that it’s still sort of a holiday. Not all American companies insist on squeezing that last little bit of business out of Q4, however: Dvorak points approvingly to PricewaterhouseCoopers, which began giving all of its employees the whole week off in 2003 and has never looked back.