Thinking outside the group: PwC brings on external directors to join our U.S. board

Tim Ryan
Tim Ryan
Jun 21, 2017 · 4 min read

Having a purpose as a company only has value if it is reflected across your organization, particularly at the highest of levels. Leadership can’t just talk the talk but has to walk the walk. So, when it comes to PwC’s purpose to “build trust in society and solve important problems,” our leadership has to step up each and every day.

That’s why I am pleased to announce that for the first time ever PwC is seating board members from outside our ranks. Our new board will be effective on July 1 with two new directors whose experience and careers are entirely external to PwC.

Even as one of the world’s largest professional services firms with a more than 150-year history, we recognize that today’s ever-evolving marketplace requires the agility to respond to rapid change. Only by remaining competitive can we continue to provide the unrivaled level of quality service, deep insights, and diverse perspectives that our clients and stakeholders have come to expect and demand from us.

It is this desire to build a clear-eyed, future-focused strategy that has brought PwC to the insistence of having outside voices on our board of directors. Their perspectives and experiences will be invaluable in helping PwC’s board become more diverse. We know corporate boards that lack diversity can develop groupthink as a result of shared biases and blind spots, which in turn can seriously hurt its decision-making process. Having a board that is made up of directors representing all elements of diversity — including experience, geography, gender, and ethnicity — will not only improve decision-making, but will also allow our firm to better serve our clients, staff and stakeholders.

Our decision to include outside directors was several years in the making and the search for the right candidates was equally lengthy. One of the reasons for this is because as a public accounting and professional services firm we have rigorous independence requirements for board membership in order to ensure our integrity and objectivity. We’re pleased to have found new directors of both the highest caliber and credentials.

A U.S. Navy veteran with 36 years of active service, Carol Pottenger, joins our board with a truly global perspective, diverse experience, and sophisticated approach to leadership. Her remarkable background of firsts as a female Vice Admiral includes leading a combatant force “type command” of some 40,000 expeditionary sailors. In the last few years, her work outside the Navy as a corporate and government consultant and member of boards elsewhere further expands her credentials.

Former U.S. Commerce Secretary, Carlos Gutierrez, comes to our board table with an extraordinary amount of experience in the corporate world, as a current and former board member for multiple organizations, and as a former Kellogg CEO. As a Cuban immigrant to the U.S. as a child, Gutierrez also brings a diverse cultural background. He is presently a co-chair for the Albright Stonebridge Group and sits on the boards of Metlife, Time Warner, Inc., and Occidental Petroleum Corporation.

These new external directors bring a wealth of experience to PwC. They both understand how organizations should work, how to challenge assumptions, and how to create a better environment for business and the broader community. We will be a stronger board and firm with their perspectives and contributions. They also add to our continued efforts to increase diversity at the firm and in the boardroom. Our new board will be 37% combined females and minorities, with 14% minorities and 23% female. Having diverse perspectives matters for the same reasons having external board directors matters — it makes us a stronger firm for our clients, people, and stakeholders.

In the U.S., PwC is 50,000 strong, of which 3,500 are partners. Our soon-to-be 22-member U.S. board will face a future business landscape that is full of new challenges but tremendous opportunities. From business problems to the big issues facing society, our directors will help influence and steer our strategy, purpose, and values in order to ensure that PwC continues to be a trusted, inclusive and thriving firm.

Learn more about corporate governance and boardroom best practices: PwC’s Center for Board Governance

Tim Ryan

Tim Ryan

PwC US Chairman and Senior Partner. Father of six great kids; marathon runner; hockey fan for life. Boston is home. Views are my own.

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