PwC UK launches new platform to help Chinese talent reach the top

19 October 2018 2 min. read

PwC in the UK have launched a platform to help top Chinese talent break through the local ‘bamboo ceiling’.

Unveiled at this week’s Chinese Business Leaders Awards event, the new PwC cross-company Chinese Talent Development Platform aims to address persistent Chinese underrepresentation in the UK’s senior business community and assist individuals of Chinese heritage to reach the top of the local professional tree. The platform will be supported by Standard Chartered as a founding partner, and will work in collaboration with a number of existing initiatives.

According to PwC, the representative shortfall in senior leaders of Chinese decent is prevalent across all sectors and industries in the UK, despite records of high educational attainment – a common situation facing Chinese employees in Anglo-oriented countries and termed as the ‘bamboo ceiling’. There have been many reasons suggested for the existence of the bamboo ceiling, including traditional prejudices.

Chinese Talent Development Platform however will seek to address certain cross-cultural barriers through online and classroom learning combined with networking and coaching, working in partnership with a number of orgainsations including the Diaspora Foundation, WoMentor, LSE's Confucius Institute for Business London, and SinoPro – the founders of the PwC-sponsored Chinese Business Leaders Awards.PwC UK launches new platform to help Chinese talent reach the top“The Confucian values and ideals that individuals of Chinese heritage are raised to observe and respect often don’t conform to the demands and pressures of the British workplace, hindering development and career progression,” said Suwei Jiang, lead partner of PwC UK’s China Business Group, who has been with the firm for 20 years and was appointed a partner in 2011.

Jiang continued; “There is a deep rooted culture of respect in China and many children are brought up not to challenge people more senior to them both by age and by authority. But in UK culture, this is often seen as a lack of confidence or assertiveness… We want to provide holistic and culturally relevant support to improve Chinese representation at the top of businesses and create culturally dexterous leaders.”

The new initiative is in line with previously established PwC UK’ efforts to support Chinese professionals at the Big Four firm (which locally has some 750 Chinese speakers among its workforce), such as with its China Business Group, which has been active for over a decade, as well as its commitment to improving its diversity profile in general, with the firm having voluntarily published its BAME (black, Asian, and minority ethnic) pay-gap since 2016 to encourage greater equality.

Present at the launch, London Lord Mayor Charles Bowman commented on the importance of the initiative. “I am delighted to host the 4th Chinese Business Leaders’ Awards and the launch of a Cross-Company Chinese Talent Development Platform at the Mansion House. Chinese professionals make a huge contribution across the Square Mile and it is vital that we ensure they can reach the top of their chosen sectors.”