Overview profile: Ed Smith, Accounting for People taskforce

A pivotal member of the government-appointed Accounting for People taskforce, Smith, together with taskforce chair Denise Kingsmill, also deputy chairman of the Competition Commission, is due to release the findings next month.

Set up earlier this year, the group was tasked to look at ways in which organisations can measure the quality and effectiveness of their human capital management. The move is in response to growing pressure from investors and stakeholders to understand more about a company’s future performance by looking at employment trends.

The issue is not one of negative cost, but rather the potential that their staff hold as a positive business asset. For this to happen, employees and investors would need to be made aware of the effect staff – or human capital management, as it’s known to the Accounting for People taskforce – could have on profitability.

And the most efficient way deemed to get this to the top of the boardroom agenda has been to enlist those people who can raise the necessary interest.

The Accounting for People taskforce includes professionals from a variety of backgrounds, such as academia, business, accountancy practices and consultancies.

The findings will be fed into the company law review and work is being carried out on an updated operating and financial review, a narra-tive report outlining ‘material’ non-financial data.

Leadership with experience and quality has been essential, and Smith fits the bill. He is responsible for strategy, technology, innovation, people and knowledge at PricewaterhouseCoopers. He also sits on the board.

As the taskforce’s highest-profile accountant, Smith’s interest in the subject has been nutured throughout his more than 25 years at PwC. He has been involved in several other similar projects.

During a balance project with the National Work-Life Forum in 2000, Smith said: ‘Any organisation whose business plan fails to incorporate work-life strategies will need to re-think their future carefully if they are to compete successfully in tomorrow’s changing world.’

He is also acutely aware of the need to retain women as well. At a Busygirl Business Technology event, Smith said: ‘Organisational competitiveness and innovation are accelerated through diverse leadership and decision making. The business case for attracting, retaining and advancing talented women is fundamental to future competitiveness – great companies are run by great teams.’

Along with his dedication to ensuring the smooth and effective running of strategy and technology at PwC, Smith still takes the time to secure overall funding from his fellow partners for the annual PwC pantomine.

The charity event raises funds and broadcasts the annual pantomime into children’s hospitals and other charity organisations. This year they put on Beauty and the Beast at the London Peacock Theatre and again Smith donned costume and make-up.


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