PwC has launched an investigation into a ‘racist’ trivia event held last week.
During the virtual event, a human resources executive, responsible for diversity and inclusion, mocked Chinese accents.
Meanwhile, a second human resources executive dressed up as “a bat from Whuhan”.
Furthermore, one of the trivia questions asked participants to choose which of a series of company logos “best represented communism”.
The correct answer was the logo for Chinese-owned telco giant Huawei.
PwC launches investigation into ‘racist’ trivia event
Following complaints from staff, PwC boss Tom Seymour went into immediate damage control.
Firstly, he apologised to those who attended the trivia event.
Secondly, he announced the investigation, which will be conducted with the assistance of external legal advisers
And then Seymour told the Australian Financial Review the conduct during the trivia event “did not reflect the values and culture of our firm”.
He described the sketches as “racist and offensive”.
“A number of people shared their disappointment, frustration and anger about this event.
“On behalf of all the team at PwC, I am extremely disappointed that this incident has occurred.
“I am hugely disappointed we fell short of the standard we hold ourselves to.”
They should know better
Industrial advocate Miles Heffernan from Discrimination Claims described the executive’s behaviour as “offensive”.
“These people work in human resources, so they should know better,” he said.
“There is no place for racism or discrimination in modern workplaces, especially one as big as Price Waterhouse Coopers”.
Despite skepticism from some staff that the investigation will result in genuine action, Mr Heffernan believes management will act quickly.
“Multinational firms like this can no longer afford the reputational damage that this sort of thing can create,” he said.
“So I expect investigators will act swiftly, and I also expect the HR executives involved might find themselves out the door.”
The AFR reports that there continues to be a cultural imbalance in the senior ranks of PwC.
Currently, 47 percent of the firm’s employees are from non-European cultural backgrounds, but just 17 percent of partners are.
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