“Representation across gender also means teams are more likely to overcome obstacles and resolve issues more efficiently, which is essential for the performance of our business.”
Many women still feel like they don’t receive enough encouragement to enter and remain in the business world, and can face both structural barriers to participation and unconscious biases.
“Without diversity targets, mentors, building awareness and responses to unconscious bias, support structures and role models, it’s hard to see how we are going to create a corporate environment where women are retained and can advance to leadership positions,” adds Best.
She is passionate about increasing women in leadership roles. PwC puts diversity at the centre of its strategy, and is committed to achieving diverse representation in leadership.
The firm is achieving that goal with a range of policies and programs, from parental leave coaching and recruitment targets, to removing barriers to progression and equal opportunity, and inbuilt job flexibility, introduced in 2015.
It also runs Families@PwC, which is a community focused on helping everybody strive to balance work and family responsibilities.
“As the executive board sponsor for Families@PwC, building an inclusive workplace that supports all individuals is really important to ensure we are not deterring females or anyone from pursuing their chosen career,” says Best.
To further support the pipeline of female talent, PwC introduced team leaders in 2018 to encourage greater gender diversity in leadership.
The new role created a direct reporting relationship for all PwC people to have someone to offer support, guidance and career development.
The work is having an impact, with PwC already achieving gender balance in team leader roles.
Data from the Workplace Gender Equality Agency reveals PwC now has the most women in senior positions in professional services firms, with 43 per cent of management positions in 2019-20 held by women. The executive board is also 43 per cent female.
“I feel incredibly lucky to work in an environment where I feel my diversity has been nurtured over my many years with PwC and which has allowed me to achieve my potential as a leader,” says Best.
For young women considering their career options, Best recommends seeking out environments that both align with their ambitions and values, and enable them to bring their authentic self into the workplace.
“My advice to young women is to believe in and be kind to yourself, take some risks and find the people and mentors who want to support you to be successful, and invest in those relationships,” she adds.
“Cyber security may be a challenging field for women to pursue, but the shortage of qualified professionals in the field is a great opportunity for women to get ahead.”
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