PwC’s Shannon Schuyler on Four Ways Equity and Trust Play a Role in Transformation

Originally published on LinkedIn. Shannon Schuyler is PwC U.S.’s Chief Purpose and Inclusion Officer. PwC is a Hall of Fame company.


Last week, I had the opportunity to join Axios at its first annual What’s Next Summit. To be back in person, sharing an actual stage with so many future-thinking and leading voices was energizing and inspiring. For me, it was an important moment to take the opportunity to stress how much is happening right now in our workplaces and the ripple effect the decisions we make now will have on our people and communities years from now. It’s an exciting time, one that is ripe for organizations to reevaluate old ways of working and to rethink the employee/employer contract — at a time when trust is the most valuable commodity, how do we build it, keep it and motivate our people by allowing them to fulfill their purpose and give them a sense of belonging? We’ve all heard that saying, “culture eats strategy for breakfast” — and here’s where I see the biggest opportunity for employers to make that a reality:

  1. Your employees are in control. Gone are the days of a one size fits all approach to supporting your workforce. At a time when talent is in demand, employers need to approach benefits and ways of working with personalization and choice. Tailor the employee experience to each individual — ask questions, don’t make assumptions, about what works best for them and their needs. Let your employees tell their own story.
  2. Align your people with their purpose. People want to work for an employer whose purpose not only aligns with their own, but for one that provides an opportunity for them to fulfill their personal purpose — whether that be through environmental sustainability, volunteer work, pro bono projects, etc. When you’re able to show them that their purpose and values actually intersects with your organization and their day-to-day work, you create “stickiness”, a feeling that we’re working towards something bigger in a meaningful way.
  3. Build trust through transparency. It takes a long time to build trust, but it can be lost in just a moment. Trust between employees and employers is what builds a foundation for a long-term relationship, something that’s critical in today’s society. And transparency on data, expectations and goals is what builds trust and accountability. Regardless of whether your entire workforce agrees, the mere fact that you’ve been open with your workforce and explained the why behind your decisions is what matters.
  4. It’s our responsibility to make a difference. At PwC, our 55,000 U.S. employees implore us to be changemakers in creating a better world for us to live and work in. Employers can no longer remain silent on societal issues because they’re the issues that matter to your people. We must be thoughtful, focused and take a stance, otherwise one will be taken for you. And once you’ve set the expectation of the issues that matter most to you, be prepared to be consistent in your approach to speaking out and taking action.

It’s going to take real commitment and trust to leverage this moment. We’ve seen transformation with technology, goods and services, but what we haven’t seen is transformation in our approach to human capital. We have an opportunity to do that now, and to make the workplace more equitable and more customized to each individual in our workforce. And we’ll be all the better for it.