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27 Nov 2009 06:00
Jackie Tong, Africa people leader at Ernst & Young, believes that in today’s globally connected world, employers need to maintain a working environment that embraces all aspects of diversity in an inclusive manner.
To be able to recruit and retain the best talent, they must be inclusive in their behaviour.
‘We need to take into account the new mix of cultures and individual characteristics that shape our workforce and the different work styles that build our talent pool.
Embedding a sustainable, inclusive culture in the way we operate will enable our people to achieve their potential and make a difference, wherever they come from and whatever their characteristics.
‘Our footprint across the African continent provides us with significant opportunities to learn from our clients and our people.
From a diversity and inclusiveness perspective, our goal is to build a truly African firm with an embracing spirit that mirrors the warmth and hospitality that is so frequently associated with people from our continent. This is a journey that constantly reminds us of how similar we are, despite our perceived differences.
‘Our clients expect us to be diverse, but also inclusive in our interactions with them and each other.
By addressing our client needs and equipping our people with the necessary skills, we gain by having people who are able to communicate and do business across geographies and cultures.
This is particularly important in a mobile and virtual world, where employees are expected to work as effective team members in teams whose composition is never static,” says Tong.
‘Ernst & Young has—over the past three years—consistently achieved a top 10 rating in CRF’s Best Employers survey. At the heart of our company are our people.
We could not have achieved this victory without our people’s continuing energy, enthusiasm and commitment to building relationships based on doing the right thing,” says Philip Hourquebie, chief executive of Ernst & Young South Africa ‘At Ernst & Young we continue to innovate and reinvigorate.
We believe opportunities in South Africa—and across the African continent—are bountiful and exciting; even during the current economic turbulence.
‘Progress comes from regular evaluation of key business processes and a willingness to learn from others. We engage with all our people on a regular basis and use their input to improve our overall business, HR processes and deliverables.
We are also open to learning from others and our participation in the annual CRF Best Employers survey is one such learning opportunity.
We are delighted that our quest for ongoing improvement has resulted in us improving our rating and maintaining our position in the top 10 of this survey.
‘The key elements of our success can be attributed to the following aspects of our people management philosophy, namely ongoing engagement with staff, striving to maintain a valuesbased organisation that embraces diversity in an inclusive manner, and ongoing commitment to continuous improvement.
‘We engage with staff across all levels in the organisation through various forums and with varied intended outcomes. We aim to be transparent in our sharing of information and to act timeously on issues and suggestions that are raised,” says Hourquebie.
Tong says: ‘We strive to ensure that our organisation remains grounded in a set of shared values. This means that we have to constantly stop and ask ourselves whether our actions reflect the values that we have embraced.
This is critical as we continue on our journey to create a working environment that encourages diversity while also recognising that we must do this while being inclusive in our behaviour.
‘In our desire to be one of the employers of choice in our country, we realise that we must continuously review our value proposition to our staff.
This includes providing support to encourage physical and emotional wellbeing, having policies and processes that incorporate best practice and are effectively executed, enhancing our learning and development interventions and providing opportunities for staff to engage leaders about their careers options,” she says.
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