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03 October 2017

When it comes to diversity, silence says something

Sitting with my team in an auditorium in New York just over a week ago, I was proud, surprised, frustrated, inspired and humbled by the words spoken at HeForShe’s third anniversary event.  And I wasn’t the only one.  The first words, PwC’s Global Chairman, Bob Moritz, uttered when he stepped on stage recognised the work put in by many teams across PwC; “I am simply the voice to describe what we’ve done and humbly, we have much more to do.”  We have come a long way since aligning our existent diversity strategy with HeForShe three years ago, but there is still a journey ahead.  


It was my first time attending a HeForShe event since becoming Global Diversity and Inclusion Leader this year.  And I was reminded of a great piece of advice I was lucky enough to receive very early in my career.  When I was an intern, my manager advised me to “always speak the truth.”  As an auditor, even the smallest inaccuracy or untruth, can hurt a client relationship and the integrity of your work. 

On the face of it, this sounds simple. For me, truth and trust go hand in hand.  Applying this advice, has been a necessity to develop strong and lasting relationships in every area of my life - with clients, colleagues and friends. 

However, ‘truth’ is not the most powerful part of this advice, neither is it the most challenging.  The power lies in the action of ‘speaking.’

When it comes to diversity and inclusion, saying nothing is saying something and it’s the wrong thing.  HeForShe reminds us of the power of speaking up and the deafening impact of silence.

At the event, the HeForShe 10x10x10 IMPACT Champions used their voices to collectively speak up about the barriers to global gender parity, share what they’re doing to address these barriers in education, businesses and societies around the world, and celebrate individual and collective successes.

At PwC, we’re focused on having all of our people around the world work in an inclusive environment that encourages them to speak up and be themselves.  We’re developing a strong pipeline of diverse talent so that we can build on the gender parity achieved in the Global Leadership Team, and reflect our truly diverse network in all facets of the organisation.

To echo Bob and a number of the IMPACT Champions, we have made progress, but we have much more we want to do.  I for one, am excited about the challenge.  Little did I know as an intern, that the advice I received would stand me in good stead throughout my career.  And all these years later sitting in New York would once again spring to mind! 

Each and every one of us can have a positive impact by making the HeForShe commitment.  I’m happy to say, in just four days leading up to the event, almost 1,600 PwC people made theirs.  We can also create impact by proactively recognising and increasing our ‘gender IQ’ with our free Building Gender IQ online course, which takes only 35 minutes to complete.

So, I encourage you all to speak up and make your HeForShe commitment to be inclusive and value differences, because when it comes to diversity, silence says something.

Click here to watch the full HeForShe third anniversary event.

Follow Sharmila for more diversity insights and news: @sharmilaakarve


Sharmila-karve.jpg.pwcimage.200.252 As PwC's Global Diversity and Inclusion Leader, Sharmila drives the firm’s global D&I strategy. She is passionate about creating a truly inclusive working environment across the PwC network, where everyone can bring their whole selves to work.

Based in Mumbai, Sharmila is also an Assurance partner with the India firm and has served as Assurance Leader and Risk and Quality Leader. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her husband and daughter, practicing yoga and travelling.


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