Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Top Accounting Firms Snag More Diversity Recognition

In recent years, accounting firms of different sizes, trade associations and academic programs have made diversity one of their priorities. They’ve seen not just moral but increasingly business imperatives for adding women and minorities to their workforce, and working with more diverse suppliers. They understand that their customers are growing more diverse.

A related group of ranking lists released this year by a leading diversity research organization suggests that at least the largest accounting firms have been making headway. The most recent list announced by Diversity Inc. found that PricewaterhouseCoopers is the top firm when it comes to global diversity. PwC ranked first among 10 firms. Deloitte was sixth. Technology giants IBM and Cisco, Proctor & Gamble and Colgate-Palmolive – all considered corporate leaders on diversity -- were also on the list.

Companies on the list must have at least 10 percent of their employees outside the U.S. and offer health benefits to same-sex partners. PwC won kudos for its cross-border employee groups for women and minorities and work to change laws globally that Diversity Inc. called “oppressive.” Among major diversity efforts over the past five years, the company created a worldwide gender advisory council of 14 men and women executives to increase the representation of women in its workforce. “Diversity is at the heart of our business,” said Samuel DiPiazza, PwC’s global CEO, in a press release. “It impacts client satisfaction, the quality of our services and thinking, innovation, and the overall engagement of our people.”

The top ranking follows PwC’s inclusion by Diversity Inc. in its annual top 50 companies for diversity list and top 10 firms for lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender employees.

Both lists were released over the past two months and are based on the same comprehensive survey that generated the global diversity rankings. But Diversity Inc. considers different criteria for different lists. For example, for the top 50 list, the research group didn’t focus on international initiatives, instead weighing a combination of recruiting and retention success, vendor diversity, with which firms work, the ability of firms to expand diversity efforts through internal and external communications and marketing, and most of all, CEO involvement.

PwC ranked fifth on the top 50 list and third on the LGBT list, which looks at companies’ commitment to hiring and retaining LGBT employees.

Deloitte ranked 33rd on the top 50 list and number nine among the top 10 firms for Asian Americans list, which was also released earlier this year. Ernst & Young ranked third among the top 50 firms for diversity list and KPMG 21st

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