Increasing Engagement, Retention & Talent Development of New Black Hires

Only 4 percent of CPAs are Black. Here's how PricewaterhouseCoopers is cutting that gap.

Increasing Engagement, Retention & Talent Development of New Black Hires

Increasing Engagement, Retention & Talent Development of New Black Hires: Only 4 percent of CPAs are Black. Here’s how PwC is cutting that gap.

Elena Richards, PricewaterhouseCoopers, PwC, CPAs, new, black, hires, new blackOnly 4 percent of CPAs are Black, but PricewaterhouseCoopers is looking to decrease that gap through its innovative Vanguard program.

Elena Richards, talent management leader, Office of Diversity, PricewaterhouseCoopers, presents at DiversityInc’s Innovation Fest! how her firm improves hiring, engagement and promotion of Blacks by providing new hires a year-long leadership/talent-development program as part of its on-boarding efforts. The company is No. 1 in The 2012 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity. Watch the video below to learn about this innovative program.

The full Innovation Fest! presentations with PowerPoint slides are available on

Watch the other Innovation Fest! videos: How 9 Companies Capitalize on Innovation: Resource Groups, Engagement & Talent Development.

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  • Delaney Cavenaugh

    Although I applaud Pricewaterhouse Cooper and several other organizations for attempting to address a lingering issue of hiring and retaining persons of color in their professions; I must admit that I’m one of those diversity practioners who wonder when are we going to stop playing to the mindset we are trying to change?

    Case and point: Instead of creating a “vanguard” mentoring, development, and retention program for persons of color to teach “them” how to be better professionals, why aren’t we creating accountability programs for the hiring managers and leaders who are not hiring, developing, and retaining “them”?

    Afterall, are we to assume that white professionals are not in need of mentoring? No, of course not. Do they get mentored? Absolutely. Why? Because the hiring/developing leader wants to mentor them. Why can’t the leader do the same for the professional of color? Because there is no accountability to ensure equity in the workplace.

    You see a manager can be fair and not equitable. For example, a manager can have two employees (employee #1 is a person of color and employee #2 is white). Both employees have the confidence and competence to do their jobs well; but both are lacking in the area of professional credibility within the organization. Because the manager who is either white or is subjected to “white group think” feels more comfortable with employee #2, he/she offers opportunity after opportunity for that employee to develop “credibility” within the organization. All the while, employee #1 is supported to be successful in his/her role but there are no additional duties/opportunities given outside of what the employee already knows so “credibility” doesn’t happen and that employee either becomes stagnant or is forced to seek development outside of the organization.

    As employee #2 is being “mentored” by being introduced to other leaders within the organization, working on projects with those leaders, learning how to communicate, etc, employee #1 is in the office working day after day. The “internal credibility” factor of E#2 is increasing.
    One day, there’s a promotion available. Who is qualified for the promotion? Both employees. Who gets the promotion? E#2 Why? Because the leader invested in that employee. Why didn’t the leader invest in both employees? Because there was no accountability to ensure that happened. You add race, gender, etc. to that mixture and it looks like discrimination and it happens all too often.
    The Leader will argue, Employee #1 was never denied opportunity to grow. Of course, neither was he/she presented with the opportunity to grow.

    The truth is everyone has a beginning. No one comes out of the gate knowing everything but in a lot of ways we play into the stereotypes that professionals of color lack in competence, confidence, and credibility when actually it is apparent that in order for any person of color to make it in his/her profession, he/she already has to possess those qualities during their journey to obtain degrees, training, professional certifications, etc. You see, the road is paved with people who don’t believe in that student and professional of color and when we hire him/her, the first thing we do is place them in a mentoring development program??? It’s like giving a student of color a tutor even when they test into the accelerated class.

    We present these programs as opportunity and because no one really takes a step back to see what the program is saying, we gladly accept the “opportunity” not realizing what it is really saying about us.

    So when does it stop? When are we as diversity practioners going to stop honoring the programs that playdown the seriousness of xenophobia and ethnocentrism that exists in our companies?

    When are we going to refuse to create one more mentoring program or affinity group that says to the diverse professional, “you are not good enough; we obviously have to make you qualified to be qualified.”

    • Luke Visconti

      Only a poorly run company would offer only certain groups mentoring. There are many poorly run companies; however, most of them exclude non-white people from mentoring by not disciplining their mentoring programs.

      PricewaterhouseCoopers mentors all of their managers (100 percent), as do the other Big Four accounting firms. By the way, there is a big difference between the name of your email and the name you typed in as your name on the submission form. I suspect you’re a troll. Luke Visconti, CEO of DiversityInc

      • Delaney Cavenaugh

        Not a troll… That’s my pseudonym. And this is where I must say that I am also a professional of color, a female, a gen X, and the list goes on and on so my “diversity card carrying credentials” are legitimate. And your response did not address my point…equitable workplace practices are not about mentoring special groups because they are underrepresented. Every year, companies who want to be recognized for diversity have to prove their worthiness by having programs for groups of employees instead of real accountability that goes across the system to ensure that all professionals are being mentored/coached. Why not coach the entire team versus the QB or Punter? Diversity is going to have evolve from being some idealistic program into a seamless practice that identifies talent regardless of differences. If you want to know why we are still having the same conversations about the lack of people of color in specific professions in 2012, its because we are packaging the same product not realizing that it goes a lot deeper than a cool name like ” vanguard”.

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