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PwC chairman: How Corporate America can stop failing black workers and diversify its ranks

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PwC Chairman Tim Ryan has been vocal for several years about the need for Corporate America to diversify its ranks. And he agrees that it has failed black employees.

Ryan has also spoken out about the repeated unjust killings of black men and women. “Bo Jean, Michael Brown, Jemel Roberson, Eric Garner, Philando Castile, Tamir Rice, Alton Sterling, Sandra Bland, Freddie Gray, Ahmaud Arbery and now #GeorgeFloyd and countless others. We must continue to fight for justice and to end racism,” he tweeted on May 28. Botham, or ‘Bo’, Jean, a 26-year old man killed in his own apartment in Dallas by an off-duty cop, was an accountant with PwC.

    Companies can’t just talk about the injustice of racism, said Ryan, a cofounder of CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion, a group of 900 CEOs from leading companies that seek to create more diverse and inclusive workplaces.”It goes beyond a great statement. It goes beyond a great speech. We need more action. I believe Corporate America is equipped, but we need a sustained effort,” he told CNN Newsroom’s Poppy Harlow on Wednesday.Read MoreRyan acknowledges his own firm PwC — which has never had a black chairman and currently only has one black board member — still has a long way to go. But, he noted, the firm has been very deliberate about taking steps to rectify the situation at all levels of the organization. “When you look at my leadership team, thanks to very thoughtful and deliberate succession planning for over a decade, two [of my three major lines of business] are headed up by black men. And we’re very well-positioned for my successor to be diverse going forward,” he said.In terms of bringing in new talent, he noted, PwC stepped up its efforts to recruit more employees from historically black colleges and universities three years ago.

      And, last week, he told his 55,000 employees that the company will now make the board’s strategic plan to boost diversity fully transparent to all staff. He said he expects them to hold him accountable for progress on each goal and let him know when they believe change isn’t happening fast enough. “Transparency drives that action,” Ryan said.He’ll also be convening a company-wide committee of staff from all levels to consult leaders on those efforts, he said. “We will listen to them as to what needs to change at the firm.”


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