One third of PwC's recruits have an ethnic minority background

05 February 2021 3 min. read
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Big Four firm PwC has ramped up its ethnic minority hires over the last year. In its latest financial year, 35% of PwC’s new hires were from an ethnic minority background, lifting the share of total workforce by 2% from FY19.

The gap in pay between workforce demographics has increasingly become a major cause for concern among the public. While much of the attention pertaining to gaps in the workforce is aimed at gender, people from various ethnic backgrounds are also often underpaid for similar work or unable to climb the corporate ladder.

In a bid to promote action from bosses, the UK Government required large employers to disclose pay conditions throughout their organisations, including for different ranks. The move was aimed at shining a light on conditions, creating ground swell for change to what are ultimately unfair conditions.One third of PwC's recruits have an ethnic minority backgroundComplying with this policy, PwC has published details of its Black, Asian and Mixed Ethnic (BAME) background pay gaps, as part of an action plan designed to address diversity in the workplace. This year, the figures have revealed a drastic improvement, with PwC UK’s overall median ethnicity pay gap including partners having decreased from 6.3% in the 2019 financial year to 3.5% for 2020.

This is in stark contrast to 2017, when PwC reported BAME staff earned almost 13% less than their white colleagues. The median firmwide gender pay gap meanwhile has also decreased from 14.7% in 2019 to 11.6% in 2020 – something which PwC’s leadership believes justifies their method of using recruitment tactics to help address the matter.

Kevin Ellis, Chairman and Senior Partner of PwC UK, said, “It’s clear from this detailed data that we haven’t yet solved pay gaps but it does demonstrate our commitment to focusing on inclusion in the widest sense possible. We still have work to do to achieve better representation especially at the most senior levels of our business and that is our priority.”

According to PwC, its pay gaps are predominantly driven by lower representation of female and ethnic minority employees in its highest paid positions, meaning targeted, data-driven action can help improve this. Actions include a focus on career sponsorship for high potential female and ethnic minority staff, the use of technology for fair work allocation, and senior level accountability through recognising partners who make a positive contribution to diversity targets. 

Actions taken on this front includes a dedicated PwC fund set up to give Black-led social enterprises, as well as charities with ethnic minority beneficiaries, access to finance, mentoring, networks and skills. As a result, 35% of PwC’s new hires in the last financial year came from an ethnic minority background, driving up the proportion of BAME staff at the firm by 2% from 2019, to hit 25%.

Having upped its BAME presence, the hope is now that PwC can improve its ethnic minority representation across all grades from associate to partner by 2025. These targets include doubling the number of Black partners and the proportion of Black students hired by 2025. Currently, 10% of PwC’s partners are from a BAME background.

Laura Hinton, Executive Board member and Chief People Officer, added, “Being transparent with our diversity data is central to our goals of improving representation across our firm and nurturing an inclusive workplace culture for our people. I’m pleased we’re able to share a more detailed breakdown of our ethnicity pay gaps and we see this as an important driver of action and accountability as we focus on our efforts to reach true equality within the workplace.”