• Monday, March 04, 2024

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PwC alters US diversity initiatives amid legal and social pressures

The firm is reevaluating its diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts

FILE PHOTO: A general view of the exterior of the PWC London offices. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)

By: Pramod Thomas

GLOBAL accounting giant PwC has modified its diversity initiatives in the US, revising some targets and scholarship eligibility criteria in response to legal changes and pressure from conservative groups, reported The Financial Times.

The firm, with a workforce of 46,000 in the US, is reevaluating its diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts in light of a Supreme Court ruling against affirmative action.

Among the adjustments are the elimination of race-based criteria for a student internship programme and scholarships assisting candidates in preparing for professional accounting exams.

These changes, aimed at broadening the firm’s employee diversity, follow the Supreme Court’s ruling last June against race-conscious university admissions.

PwC’s latest DEI report also abandoned a commitment to allocate 40 per cent of procurement spending to minority-owned suppliers, the FT report added.

The report acknowledged the challenges faced in 2023, including the Supreme Court ruling, economic uncertainty, and social unrest.

PwC cited the need to apply “rigour” to advance its diversity commitment in compliance with the evolving legal landscape.

The firm’s DEI initiatives came under scrutiny from America First Legal, led by former Trump administration adviser Stephen Miller, who argued that corporate diversity efforts discriminate against white employees.

Last year, America First Legal questioned the legality of PwC’s internship and scholarship programmes, urging the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to investigate.

The latest DEI report of PwC in June revealed that 55 per cent of its US employees were white, with 22 per cent Asian, nine per cent Hispanic or Latino, and seven per cent Black.

Notably, the report altered language, replacing “goal” with “aspiration” regarding the racial composition of the US university student population.

PwC emphasised an ongoing commitment to attracting diverse professionals while acknowledging potential hurdles in the evolving landscape of diversity initiatives.

Yolanda Seals-Coffield, chief people officer of PwC US, affirmed the company’s dedication to fostering an environment where all professionals can thrive, despite adjustments made over the past year.

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