(Responses submitted by F. Naidoo, EY Africa Media Relations)
Ø What awards has EY South Africa received recently (2015 – 2016)?
- Top Employer Awards -EY South Africa has ranked in the top ten across all companies in South Africa for the past ten years – EY Certified Top Employer in Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and Zimbabwe -Only professional services firm to be certified as Top Employer Africa across the continent
- Transfer Pricing Firm of the year – South Africa 2016 International Tax Review – European Tax Awards
- SALGA Awards – 2015 Best Recruitment Process
Ø What were the achievements during the past couple of years that have enabled the firm to win these awards?
EY’s ambitious growth strategy and its pan-African vision, inclusive leadership philosophy and leading people culture all contribute to attracting and retaining the best talent allowing the firm to deliver seamless and innovative solutions to its clients across the continent.
At EY, we create an environment where all our people are supported in achieving their full potential, to the benefit of themselves, our clients, our firm and our communities. Our employees are empowered with experiences, relationships, learning and development opportunities.
Our employees are also encouraged to own their careers and are provided with tools and opportunities to develop a career plan, which addresses their career aspirations and development needs. Mentoring, coaching and appropriate sponsorship is critical for building succession plans and supporting our commitment to diversity in leadership. Our performance process is supported by a career development framework called EYU (EY and You), which ensures that employees are exposed to appropriate learning, experiences and development to accelerate their career development.
At EY we focus on the overall employee experience, our way of working goes beyond the borders of compensation and benefits. Our approach is designed to foster the building of a better working world. We offer the following (amongst others) not as part of our benefits policy but as part of who we are and what we stand for as a company:
- Our flexible work programmes focuses on providing our employees with an experience where they can work anywhere anytime. Coupled with our cutting edge technology, our world class working environment provides energising and efficient workspaces, allowing for better teaming with our employees and clients. Our culture promotes a trust-based flexible environment, allowing our people to work fluidly both in and out of the office, thus enabling them to enjoy a work-life balance to achieve their personal and professional goals.
- Our mobility programmes through our global workforce and Africa footprint enable our people to experience the world beyond our own borders, with our numerous mobility programs and cross-cultural emphasis to building the highest performing teams.
- Our world class developmental programmes are focused on building global leaders with deep African insights. Our employees across the globe are exposed to the same level of development through EY wide milestone leadership programmes, which are held in different parts of the world and provide an enriching experience for all our employees.
- At EY, we encourage healthy behaviours through targeted wellness activities. As such, our EY wellness strategy comprises four pillars of wellbeing, namely spiritual, emotional, physical, and financial Wellness. In recognition of our wellness culture EY won the Healthiest Employees Award in the 2014 Discovery Healthy Company Index, and was runner up for the Healthiest Company Award.
Ø How has EY South Africa fared in terms of achieving its business growth objectives?
Africa has been a key area of focus for investment by our global firm since we integrated 33 countries into a single operating model across the continent in 2008. The recent acquisition of IZAZI Solutions, which is the fourth acquisition of our Africa practice in three years is testament to the investment in Africa, and also validates our ongoing commitment to investing in the right people, systems and solutions to allow for knowledge-sharing across geographies, business units and industry sectors. Today we are the most integrated professional services firm in Africa.
Ø Through what means does EY South Africa ensure that the firm maintains high level of ethics and integrity?
Our values remain the fundamental beliefs of our organisation and guide the actions and behaviors of each one of us. They influence the way we work and interact with each other, as well as the way we serve our clients and engage with all our stakeholders. Our values define who we are: People who demonstrate integrity, respect and teaming. People with energy, enthusiasm and the courage to lead. People who build relationships based on doing the right thing.
The EY Risk Management team also plays a critical function in ensuring adherence to all processes, through the consistent application of global policies and systems.
In addition, the EY/Ethics Hotline is a method for reporting conduct (by internal or external parties) that may be unethical, illegal, in violation of professional standards, or otherwise inconsistent with the EY Global Code of Conduct
Ø Is transformation considered a key objective at the firm, and if so, how is it attended to?
EY’s transformation strategy is aligned to the Chartered Accountancy (CA) Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) Sector code and also guided by the Generic Codes. As a professional services firm, we believe that we have a moral obligation to build a better working world, for our people, our clients, and our communities in which we operate within.
EY acknowledges the importance of B-BBEE in the need for the transformation of South Africa and has adopted a broad- based strategy that will also secure and potentially increase our competitive advantage into the future.
EY like other companies faces the challenge of producing more cost effective solutions whilst delivering superb service to its clients in the face of growing global competition, through committed and competent staff. B-BBEE is a mechanism that can assist South African businesses in this regard and should be viewed in this context.
It is for this reason that we aim to maintain and grow our Level 2 B-BBEE contributor status and are aggressively addressing processes across the business to achieve this, and finally reach Level 1 status.
EY has clearly defined policies and guidelines to ensure there is clarity, consistency and the necessary frameworks against which we can monitor and track our progress. We are cognisant that the CA B-BBEE sector code is in the process of being aligned to the DTI’s generic code and are therefore in the process of reviewing and updating strategies accordingly.
The following highlights summarise EY’s transformation agenda and commitment:
- Our people will remain at the forefront of our transformation agenda and will remain our most valuable asset;
- Our affirmative action measures redress the inequalities of the past;
- We will continue to procure from B-BBEE compliant companies who are black owned;
- 64% of our Executive committee are represented by black people and 27% of this committee are represented by African women in particular;
- As good corporate citizens, we will continue to strive to improve the macro environment by contributing to the upliftment of our communities;
- EY participates in the Thuthuka Bursary Fund of the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) to help accelerate the number of Black Chartered Accountants in South Africa; and
- Our CEO is the Chairman of the Thuthuka Education Upliftment Fund.
Ø Kindly highlight some recent contributions by the firm to the community?
As part of our strategy to build a better working world for our people, our clients and our communities and to make a difference in the lives and opportunities of our leaders of the future, EY launched its “NextGen” programme in April, 2012. The NextGen programme focuses on developing the next generation of women leaders in South Africa. The programme is designed to empower and assist young women from disadvantaged backgrounds, and to create a network of support and enablement. The assistance provided is holistic and ranges from leadership development, extra tutoring, mentoring, career exposure, tertiary level bursaries and assistance that extends not just to our participants, but to their schools and families.
To ensure academic results, EY provides extra tutoring to the girls, along with any other support that they might require such as textbooks and school supplies. For the matriculants of the programme, EY provides bursaries for the top achievers and also supports them with university applications, as well as securing of bursaries during their final year of high school. As such, the firm cultivates a long-lasting relationship with the girls that sees them becoming ambassadors of the programme.
Each year the girls are invited to a leadership camp where EY provides additional training on study skills, leadership skills and other soft skills that are necessary for their future roles as leaders in their fields. Motivational speakers are also invited to encourage them, whilst other women leaders provide them with the motivation they need to achieve their dreams.
The programme has now grown to 166 girls from 19 schools nationally, with 62 of the girls currently at university.
Our employees also spend a vast number of hours in serving our communities. Through our employee giving programme we donate to different charities focusing on child headed households. Every employee is given paid time off to perform CSR activities.
In partnership with Warwick University, EY teaches at previously disadvantaged schools in Alexandra, Soweto and Stellenbosch over an eight week period to assist teachers in the classrooms and support those children who need individual attention.
We have partnered with Mara Mentor, which is focussed on mentoring young business owners through a variety of initiatives. Through this on-line mentoring programme, EY employees sign up to provide mentoring opportunities that span across various business topics.
Ø What contribution does EY as a firm and partners/directors at the organisation make towards their profession?
- In addition to annual funding, our contribution to the Thuthuka bursary fund includes participation in the annual work experience programme for learners, and we also employ a portion of the Thuthuka graduates once they have completed their studies. There is also active involvement by our EY Africa CEO, Ajen Sita, who is currently the chairperson of the board of the Thuthuka Education Upliftment Fund (Chairman) and a board member of the Thuthuka Bursary Fund.
- Our approach to development involves offering learning, experiences and coaching to all our people to enrich their careers and deliver the best results for clients, as well as offering additional programmes for current and future leaders of our organisation. Our Partners/Directors are members of various regulatory bodies within the profession.
- The EY Africa Business School learning and delivery initiative offers our clients and business regulatory updates, executive coaching, technical training and technical updates. Through the school, a diversified scope of learning and training interventions that typically seek to combine use of e-learning, small and large group work-shop experiences, and also group lecture-style delivery settings are created to best suit individual audience needs.
Ø How does the firm ensure that professionalism and good customer service are upheld?
EY’s ambitious growth strategy and its pan-African vision, inclusive leadership philosophy and leading people culture all contribute to attracting and retaining the best talent. This allows the firm to deliver seamless and innovative solutions, exceptional client services – specifically, being connected to our client’s business. We also measure client satisfaction through our Assessment of Service Quality (ASQ) initiative. The results of these surveys are considered in determining the performance ratings of our staff.