Professional services firm PwC has recently committed $125 million to expand its Access Your Potential program to colleges, with a focus on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Hispanic-serving institutions. Already available to underrepresented students from kindergarten to 12th grade, the expansion to colleges will provide training and upskilling, mentorships, and career connections for 25,000 Black and Latinx college students.
“It’s a critical initial step,” says Rod Adams, the Talent Acquisition and Onboarding Leader for the U.S. and Mexico at PwC. “These are our future leaders.”
It’s part of an ongoing push by PwC to up its diversity and inclusion efforts. Last August, the firm published its first-ever Diversity and Inclusion Report, which will be updated annually. According to the report, of the nearly 42,000 U.S.-based PwC employees during fiscal year 2020, 52% were men. Some 60% were white. Another 20% were Asian, while just 8% were Latinx, 6% Black, and 2% multi-racial.
‘ACCESS YOUR POTENTIAL’ PROGRAM FOCUSED ON CONNECTING 25,000 BLACK AND LATINX STUDENTS TO EARLY CAREERS
But the extension of the Access Your Potential (AYP) program to colleges — as well as a few other new or expanded programs — is aimed at closing that gap. AYP will take a three-pronged approach to help 25,000 Black and Latinx students “begin and prepare” their careers potentially as soon as they step foot on a college campus. Students will have access to a repackaged version of the same “upskilling” curriculum currently available to PwC’s 55,000 employees around the world.
Next, the program will provide “a dynamic mentorship experience for them,” Adams says. Participating students will have access to one-on-one or group mentorships with current PwC employees. Lastly, students will have access to career help.
“We’re preparing them through the upskilling and mentorship, but we want to give them access to careers,” Adams says. “Not only PwC careers — not only access to our Start and internship programs — which we definitely want to hire as many as we can through those programs. But we’re also going to create a connection through the individuals that participate and employers interested in hiring diverse and talented people.”
PwC plans to hire around 10,000 of the 25,000 participants over the next five years.
START INTERNSHIP GROWING TO 1,000 YOUNG COLLEGE STUDENTS
As Adams mentioned, the Start Internship Program is another pipeline PwC is expanding to increase its diversity. Launched in 2004 specifically for college students self-identifying as underrepresented minorities, the program had 17 participants its first year. Last summer, it had grown to 700 and this year, Adams says it has surged to 1,000 students.
“That is a pipeline into the client services internship. The expectation — our hope is — they all get an offer for a client services internship the next summer,” Adams says.
The Advanced Internship program is the “client services internship” and is what leads to a full-time offer.
“It’s been a program we’ve had for a while as part of our diversity and inclusion strategy, we just got much more deliberate about growing it as a feeder for our hiring,” Adams says of the Start Internship program. One of the ways in which they have become more deliberate is expanding its pool of colleges they actively recruit. For example, Adams says, PwC has expanded to recruiting at 33 HBCUs.
PwC PILOTING NEW ‘WHILE YOU WORK’ PROGRAM
Lastly, PwC will be piloting a new program this summer called While You Work.
“One of the barriers to entry into our audit and tax profession is the fact that it requires 150 hours, which in most cases requires the masters in accountancy,” Adams explains, noting the CPA exam requires a bachelor’s degree and an additional 150 hours of coursework. This is good from a learning perspective, but not good from a cost perspective.
“It has been a deterrent from the profession and has more significantly impacted Black and Latinx students than others,” Adams explains.
So, in partnership with Northeastern University, 40 students will begin working at PwC this summer while completing their 150 hours and master’s degree virtually. “They’re going to be working for us but also learning and taking classes through Northeastern University,” says Adams.