Big Four aim to shed image of white preserve

Bold: Profile: Mei Sim Lai, Ethnic Minority Business Forum

Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG and PricewaterhouseCoopers will play host to 100 penultimate-year students from ethnic minorities in London in what could become an annual event.

The firms said the Big Four Chances project reflected a growing realisation that diversity was now ‘business critical’ as well as being a way to show minorities they can thrive at the firms.

But the Commission for Racial Equality warned minorities remain under-represented in the jobs that count. ‘We have what I call the “snowy peak syndrome” ð at the summit you find a small amount of white, middle-class men,’ said Trevor Philips, chairman of the CRE.

Mohan Yogendran, director of HR at Ernst & Young, said: ‘The image of accountancy comes from what people will often see in leadership roles, but the current make-up is a legacy of history.’ That was changing, he added. ‘If we weren’t tapping into all the talent out there it would be more fool us.’

Firms also highlighted the challenge of recruiting from particular minority groups, pointing out that some ð such as Indians ð were already well-represented. Keith Dovedale, head of graduate recruitment at KPMG, said: ‘As we all know, Afro-Caribbean groups are under-represented in universities so the pool we can recruit from is limited.’

The CRE agreed this was a problem, but added: ‘Afro-Caribbean graduates are twice as likely to be un- employed as their white counterparts.’

The Big Four now conduct ethnic monitoring to measure their success in promoting diversity.

The CRE applauded this, but said that it should be made publicly available as best practice.

Neither Deloitte nor PwC were available for comment.

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