By Barbara Frankel
Having trouble recruiting young talent from one demographic group? Learn a lesson from PricewaterhouseCoopers on how to develop and nurture interns.
Ten years ago, PwC went the traditional route of partnering with nonprofits to find talented Black and Latino interns, with the hope that they would eventually be new hires for the professional-services firm, which is No. 5 in The 2014 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity.
“But as we’ve moved to bigger services, we’ve expanded our diverse pipeline and our recruiters are very involved in this,” says Carly Williams, U.S. Diversity Sourcing Leader. She notes that especially in accounting, it’s always a struggle to find talent from these groups.
“If 22 percent of accounting majors are Black and Latino and we are hiring 14 percent Black and Latino, we’re doing pretty well,” she says.
The firm’s biggest successes have been through two specific programs—Start and Explore. Both help young people from underrepresented groups understand what it’s like to work in a professional-services firm and how they can hone their skills.
The Start program is aimed at Black, Latino and Native American college freshmen, sophomores or juniors who are looking at careers in accounting, auditing or professional-consulting services. The program is a seven-week internship that in the past five years has helped more than 350 students. PwC finds the interns through its nonprofit partners, strong relationships with schools including HBCUs, and online strategies.
During their internships, the students gain exposure to executives through networking events, social media and job shadowing. They are given professional and technical development opportunities and work assignments, including marketing and sales, HR, and IT.
At the end of a successful internship, students are invited to have a client-service internship in the Assurance, Tax or Advisory practices.
The Start program is complemented by the Explore program, a one-day introduction to the profession. The 5-year-old program started more as “a sell about PwC and what we do. But working closely with learning and development folks, we learned this should be more about the students—personal motivators, goals, achievements that translate into your career,” Williams says.
Last year, PwC held 120 Explore programs throughout the country, reaching 400 students. Although the firm doesn’t track race and ethnicity, Williams says many of the students are from underrepresented racial/ethnic groups.
What’s most important, she says, is having recruiters understand the value of including underrepresented groups—and especially students—in all their efforts.
“It’s important to embed diversity within the culture of our recruiters and not have it be stand-alone. Our leaders, like Bob Moritz [Chairman and Senior Partner] and Maria Castañón Moats [Chief Diversity Officer] walk the walk. Our recruiters—and our interns—see it and feel it,” Williams says.