Ernst & Young
If you had to boil Ernst & Young’s Ottawa office culture down to just two words – no simple task for a global professional services firm specializing in deep-dive business facets such as taxes, assurance, and strategic growth – you might land on “diversity” and “flexibility.”
“Diversity and inclusiveness are a top priority for the firm,” read one comment in the firm’s Employees’ Choice Awards survey.
“Flexibility and work-life balance opportunities are unbeatable,” another noted.
According to the company’s local managers, the aforementioned two words are important pillars in Ernst & Young’s business success.
“I think Ernst & Young has been a leader in recognizing the importance of having individuals from all walks of life contributing to every part of the business,” says Michael Hayward, senior manager of tax services. “Certainly at the local level, we have initiatives such as a professional women’s network. We have a gay, lesbian and transsexual and transgender committee to recognize issues in the workplace. It is interesting – it’s not something driven by headquarters or a particular partner. It’s something employees are encouraged to participate in.”
Diversity isn’t only a matter of making employees feel they are valued members of a team – it’s also about making that team more effective, notes office managing partner Deanna Monaghan. “We get different perspectives. From a business point of view, it just makes it much easier for us to communicate and understand (customers’) needs.”
And in the persistent challenge to attract and retain the best employees, having a diverse and inclusive culture is crucial. “People feel that they belong, and that they are contributing,” Ms. Monaghan says. “When you have that level of personal satisfaction, it definitely helps with the retention and the recruitment of individuals.”
Flexible work hours play an important role as well. People have lives outside of work, Ms. Monaghan notes. “We’re able to achieve what we need to do from a business perspective while not sacrificing personal needs as well. We have a lot of working parents.
“One of the things I’ve always said is there’s no need to miss your children’s events.”
Even at a glance, the careers section of Ernst & Young’s website reveals a number of HR initia- tives designed to extract the best out of employees and help them improve even more. Training is a matter of each employee’s goals and interests, but no one is left completely alone.
“It would be one thing to say, ‘Go out and try to use your own ideas to move things forward,’ but I think there’s a really strong balance between self-motivation and being able to rely on our leaders,” Mr. Hayward says. “They give you the guidance you need so you’re not floundering around trying to figure out how to make it.”
This is Ernst & Young’s first time participating in the Employees’ Choice Awards survey, but it isn’t the company’s only employee feedback mechanism. The firm also participates in national and global surveys across the entire organization that help funnel workers’ ideas back into the business.
According to Ms. Monaghan, that communication pipeline is significant. “It’s really about getting that 360-degree view,” she says.