CFC: EY is a major sponsor of the YWCA Equal Pay Awards – how does EY go about addressing pay imbalances, what strategies have you put in place?
Simon O'Connor: We are committed to pay parity at EY and ensure that this is reviewed on a regular basis. At each progression or promotion point and at each pay round we compare pay parity. Where exceptions are identified, we challenge those results to determine if it is an unconscious bias or whether performance or other experience factors are impacting the high level results. We are confident that we have the balance right but it’s important that we keep reviewing and challenging regularly.
CFC: How does EY create an environment where staff feel comfortable to bring their whole selves to work?
SO: Creating an environment that embraces Diversity & Inclusiveness is critical to our ability to serve clients and also enables us to get the best out of our people. Our local D&I Council creates a programme to recognise key cultural events and promote awareness and acceptance of minority groups. We have also undertaken unconscious bias training for our senior leaders. We are proud to have been awarded the Rainbow Tick recently and this is a clear external indicator of the way we support our people and our overall commitment to D&I.
CFC: As a leader, what do you think is the most effective way to get the entire team on board when introducing a new D&I initiative?
SO: In my experience, it’s important to talk about D&I initiatives on a regular basis and with passion. Both at large groups but also in smaller team meetings. The small actions that you take as a leader are also noticed by many and are important in “walking the talk”. For those who are not convinced, it’s important to also be able to explain the business reasons for supporting a strong, broad D&I strategy.
CFC: What are the challenges and opportunities for EY in building and retaining a strong, diverse workforce?
SO: We certainly have challenges in getting enough talented people who see a long term career at EY. Millennials typically don’t see themselves having a traditional career path at a single organisation and so our business is being disrupted (like many others) resulting in us having to think more broadly than our traditional staffing approach. We are focussing on flexibility and will recruit going forward from a broader skillset of people—not just accountants and tax lawyers. The upside is that this presents opportunities for us to innovate and provide a much broader range of services in future.