PwC UK launches platform to help top Chinese talent progress

24 October 2018 3 min. read

Despite often boasting excellent qualifications and working credentials, workers originating from China often struggle to ascend through the corporate structures of Western firms. PwC UK has launched a platform to help top Chinese talent break through the local ‘bamboo ceiling’.

According to PwC, there is a major shortfall in senior leaders of Chinese decent which is prevalent across all sectors and industries in the UK. This, despite many of that demographic holding records of high educational attainment, as Chinese employees in Anglo-centric economies face an implicit form of discrimination. In reference to the so-called ‘glass ceiling’ – which many women face in terms of traditional prejudices blocking their career path, or biased employers favouring their male counterparts for promotions – the phenomenon relating to Chinese migrant workers is named the ‘bamboo ceiling’.

In a bid to tackle the bamboo ceiling, PwC UK has unveiled a cross-company Chinese Talent Development Platform. Announced at the annual Chinese Business Leaders Awards event, the platform will assist individuals of Chinese heritage in reaching the upper echelons of the local professional tree. The platform will be supported by Standard Chartered as a founding partner, and will work in collaboration with a number of existing initiatives.

PwC UK launches platform to help top Chinese talent progress

PwC’s Chinese Talent Development Platform will work to address certain cross-cultural barriers through online and classroom learning combined with networking and coaching. At the same time, the platform will work in partnership with a number of orgainsations including the Diaspora Foundation, WoMentor,  LSE's Confucius Institute for Business London, and SinoPro – the founders of the PwC-sponsored Chinese Business Leaders Awards.

With PwC UK hosting some 750 Chinese speakers among its workforce, the initiative follows on the heels of a long line of efforts to support Chinese professionals at the Big Four firm. This includes the China Business Group, which has been active for over a decade, as well as PwC’s commitment to improving its diversity profile in general, with the firm having voluntarily published its BAME (black, Asian, and minority ethnic) pay-gap since 2016 to encourage greater equality.

Suwei Jiang, lead partner of PwC UK’s China Business Group, who has been with the firm for 20 years and was appointed a partner in 2011, commented, “There is a deep rooted culture of respect in China and many children are brought up not to challenge people more senior to them both by age and by authority. But in UK culture, this is often seen as a lack of confidence or assertiveness… We want to provide holistic and culturally relevant support to improve Chinese representation at the top of businesses and create culturally dexterous leaders.”

Present at the launch, London Lord Mayor Charles Bowman commented on the importance of the new initiative, “I am delighted to host the 4th Chinese Business Leaders’ Awards and the launch of a Cross-Company Chinese Talent Development Platform at the Mansion House… Chinese professionals make a huge contribution across the Square Mile and it is vital that we ensure they can reach the top of their chosen sectors.”

Related: Total private wealth in China booms to estimated $28 trillion.