Leading with Purpose
“WE ARE in the people business and our firm is only as strong our people,” said EY’s Belinda Pestana, atax partner with the firm’s Financial Services Office (FSO). Given expanding global markets, the increased reach of multinational companies, and the critical need to attract and retain a larger percentage of an already limited supply of talent—companies like EY, are embracing the significance of building diverse and inclusive workplace cultures.
“At EY, diversity & inclusion (D&I) has become an integral part of how we team, foster innovation and service our multinational clients,” added Pestana.
EY firmly believes that their purpose of building a better working world starts with enabling their people to bring their authentic selves to work and by leveraging the skills and talents of people with different backgrounds, experiences, perspectives, thinking styles and more. They have since learned that fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace environment results in better outcomes for their people, clients and communities.
Through their annual internal EY Global People Survey, the organization found that 80 percent of their people in the US feel that the firm provides a work environment where they can feel free to be themselves and 82 percent feel that their managers encourage and respect varying viewpoints, perspectives and work styles. “Our D&I efforts have become key ingredients for overall success not only in the Americas, but globally,” explained Ted Acosta, EY Americas Vice Chair of Risk Management. “In order to remain a competitive professional services firm, we must help our clients solve their complex issues. To do so, we know how important it is to build teams that mirror those of our clients and external research has shown that diverse teams produce better results and have higher productivity levels.”
By implementing deliberate D&I strategies and having strong leaders like Stephen R. Howe Jr., EY US Chairman Emeritus, Karyn Twaronite, EY Global Diversity & Inclusiveness Officer and Kelly Grier, EY’s recently appointed US Chairman and Americas Managing Partner, the firm has been recognized by numerous organizations for their dedication to diversity and inclusion. For example, in 2017, EY was ranked #1 overall on the DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list and this past spring were inducted into DiversityInc's Top 50 Hall of Fame.
“We equip our people with the skills to team and lead inclusive teams, so that everyone at our firm feels like they belong, are being heard, and appreciated,” says Acosta. “For us, these efforts aren’t just the right thing to do, we understand how these efforts impact our people, growth and long-term success.”
Recruiting, retaining and developing diverse professionals With D&I at the heart of their business, EY is able to recruit and retain Latino professionals, as well as other diverse professionals, through events like their annual Discover EY and EY Unplugged programs. Discover EY brings ethnically diverse college students to New York
City for three-day program where they take part in interactive team-building exercises, leadership seminars, networking opportunities and engage with senior EY leaders.
The 12th annual Discover EY program took place this past January and more than 180 students from across 88 college campuses attended the event, which allows the firm to identify and recruit future candidates, while building a pipeline of diverse candidates for the broader business community.
Both Suarez and Pestana have presented at previous EY Unplugged events, where they were able to share their personal career experiences and help other young EY professionals understand the unspoken nuances of the business world, while stressing the importance of building their own personal brand.
“As leaders, both Belinda and I are empowered to make sure that we not only talk the talk, but walk the walk and show our people that we are committed to attracting and retaining the best talent, regardless of background, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or experiences.”
Suarez and Pestana also stress to younger Latino professionals the importance of seeking mentors and sponsors throughout the firm. As Belinda explained, “mentors speak to you and provide you with career guidance or advice, whereas sponsors are more senior professionals that speak about you when you are not in the room. Sponsors typically have a seat at the table and can speak on your behalf when it comes time for a promotion or helping you get the right job opportunities.”
The idea of mentorship and sponsorship are two concepts that EY sticks by when it comes to developing and growing their Latino professionals. Like Pestana, Suarez believes strongly in the concepts and the lasting benefits these relationships can have on an individual’s career. “As I look back on my career, I had a number of different mentors and sponsors,” he said. “Many of them were neither my gender nor ethnicity, but, I certainly learned a lot from them. From understanding how to navigate our firm to helping me build my business acumen, I’m so thankful that those leaders took a chance on me and that’s why I make it a priority to pay it back.”
EY’s relationship with the Latino Community In addition to building and focusing on D&I efforts within the organization, EY also understands how the growing U.S. Latino population will not only impact how they recruit candidates and do business, but how they partner with other multinational companies – specifically those based in Latin America.
According to the Pew Charitable Trusts, there are nearly 60 million people of Hispanic/Latino origin in the US today and that number is expected to rise to 100 million by 2050. With the U.S. Latino population rapidly growing, it’s important to note that this demographic has an average age of 28 years old, thus showing that Latinos represent a young and vibrant part of our U.S. economy.
“Latinos will be one of the most strategic places for us as it relates to building and strengthening our talent pipeline in the U.S.,” said Acosta. “When I look 10 to 15 years down the road, many of today’s young Latinos will become future EY clients, entrepreneurs or business leaders, so it’s important that we as a firm actively recruit and invest in this population, so that they have the opportunities to build meaningful careers with us.”
For Oscar and Belinda, they understand the importance of having Latino EY professionals in the U.S. skilled and able to work with multinational companies in Latin America and other emerging markets. “Geographically speaking, Latin America is a market that is really changing and rapidly growing. This type of change provides both growth opportunities and challenges for our business” said Suarez, who helps build connections between EY clients based in the U.S. and those based in Latin America. “The trade market is a great demonstration of the kind of new multicultural policies that our people will have to help clients understand and navigate. We are seeing an increase trade flow from Latin America up into the U.S. and Canada, so it’s important that we have people and teams that can think diversely and come up with innovative solutions for our multinational clients.” For Belinda, who works with multinational financial services companies, she has seen first-hand how interconnected the U.S. has become with Latin America and recognizes the opportunities that these new connections can bring to EY, who has a strong footprint across the Americas, which includes North/South America and Israel.
“I’ve seen us through the years spend a lot of time explaining to our people in the U.S., myself included, the importance of understanding new business trends and policies taking place throughout Latin America,” said Pestana. “Our clients expect us to provide them with the most accurate recommendations and solutions. In order to do that, we all must have a global and inclusive mindset to stay competitive in the marketplace.”
EY’s overall and steadfast commitment to diversity & inclusiveness efforts helps the multibillion dollar organization remain a leader within the professional services industry and broader business community as a whole. “We understand the importance of having our firm’s talent strategy, D&I efforts, and business goals completely aligned, since they all impact our bottom line and longterm success,” stated Acosta.
The firm has seen first-hand how D&I approaches have helped them maintain a multicultural balance when it comes to their people and clients; especially those within the Hispanic community. “I like to think as a firm we started on this diversity journey a while back,” said Suarez. “Our leaders recognized early on the many positive impacts Latinos would have on the evolving business community.”