EY’s Holistic Ongoing Diversity Drive

Multi-faceted initiatives

Hamlin Lovell talks to Natalie Deak Jaros, Partner, EY
Originally published in the June | July 2019 issue

“According to this year’s EY Alternatives Survey, 50% of hedge fund managers plan to prioritise gender diversity. This should be seen in the context of a broader drive for diversity of people and thinking, which includes skillsets such as data science, AI and others relating to technology. There is a business need for more diversity in terms of how problems and markets are tackled,” says Natalie Deak Jaros, Partner, Americas Assurance Wealth and Asset Management Leader, and co-head of EY’s Global Hedge Fund Practice.

EY looks at diversity from many angles: “they include, but aren’t limited to background, education, gender, ethnicity, nationality, age, working and thinking styles, religious background, sexual orientation, ability and technical skills,” according to its 2018 annual report.

Some firms, including EY, do have targets for diversity milestones including gender parity. Some 48% of EY’s people are women, and while the proportion is lower at more senior levels (20% of existing member firm partners are women), EY is continually working toward an environment, backed by accountability, that supports inclusive leadership. In 2018, EY continued to reaffirm its commitment to the advancement of women, with female partner promotions representing 29% (208), including women across all geographies and service lines. This year, indicators point to the Americas firm exceeding that milestone with a projected promotion class of partners, principals, managing directors and directors above the 30% mark.

There is a business need for more diversity in terms of how problems and markets are tackled.

Natalie Deak Jaros, Partner, Americas Assurance Wealth and Asset Management Leader, and co-head of EY’s Global Hedge Fund Practice.

Remedial measures

Indeed, “there is much more still to be done. The shift that needs to occur to really move numbers is more open mindedness to look for staff who don’t look or think the way you think. Businesses need to take a step back and ask: why does my workforce need to look different? Do I have the right talent for the next wave and generation of where the industry is moving?” says Deak Jaros. 

EY’s campaigns challenge gender stereotypes, promote women’s achievement and inspire clients and other key stakeholders to close the gender gap. Cultural change could expedite the attainment of targets in a more spontaneous fashion: one poll published by EY’s Women. Fast forward revealed that company culture may be the biggest barrier to closing the gender gap industry-wide. EY has also launched the #SheBelongs campaign and this needs to be viewed through the lens of a wider concept of inclusivity. “A culture of openness to understand and celebrate difference creates a culture where people feel like they belong, and are then more productive, motivated, engaged and 3.5 times more likely to contribute at their full potential. The most inclusive and diverse teams at EY are the most productive and open to new ideas. We don’t want people who think and look the same way. We appreciate that different perspectives contribute more,” says Deak Jaros. For instance, EY’s 2018 annual report states that, “we analysed 22,000 EY audit engagements and found that teams with a balance of gender outperformed, in both financial performance and quality, teams that were less balanced”.

EY’s inclusion and non-discrimination policies were initially applied in certain regions and have now been rolled out globally. EY is accommodating women by creating different ways for people to work more flexibly, including remotely. “Recruitment aims to hire from diverse backgrounds but the diversity drive goes well beyond the diversity strategy per se with the goal of embedding diversity throughout the organisation. So the innovation strategy, for instance, also needs to demonstrate gender equality and diversity,” says Deak Jaros. 


Some 48% of EY’s people are women.

“Structured leadership training programs, mentoring and succession planning are crucial to find the next generation of female leaders. Staff need a sponsor to support career progression. It is also important to challenge who the successor is and ask not why this person is right, but why this person is not right for a role. This is critical as firms need to think more broadly about talent pools and challenge the natural human tendency to choose the person who looks or behaves the most like you,” she points out.

Through the 2016 launch of EY’s Neurodiversity Center of Excellence (NCoE) in Philadelphia, EY was among the first professional services firms to make a commitment to recruiting and hiring people on the autism spectrum. EY has since opened NCoEs in Dallas and Chicago, where neurodiverse individuals work in analytics, automation and support its Forensics and Cyber practices as professionals who offer vital skills in technology, mathematics and pattern recognition. Their work is driving innovation and improving business processes.

Female entrepreneurs make up one third of the global total, but only about 7% of funding went to female founding teams.

Natalie Deak Jaros, EY.

A global drive

US companies are generally perceived to be lagging behind European companies on ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) policies and ratings, and this is also true in terms of some dimensions of gender equality. Only 22% of directors on S&P 500 boards are women, against 30.2% of FTSE 100 directors. “Women belong in the boardroom, and certain US states are putting in requirements for this,” says Deak Jaros.

EY looks at diversity globally and across all industries. “Female entrepreneurs make up one third of the global total, but only about 7% of funding went to female founding teams,” explains Deak Jaros. 40% of women have a bank account in G20 and own a third of small or medium enterprises, but only about 10% of them get loans from banks. We want to celebrate female entrepreneurs and the EY Entrepreneurial Winning Women programme, which spans 65 countries, is now into its 11th year. It brings some of these achievements to the forefront, and promotes them. This helps the conversation around gender equality, and makes sure the team has the right skills across the board. We want to challenge gender stereotypes and biases, challenge who gets the opportunity, and make sure teams are diverse. Over time that changes the culture of an organisation and the way women are perceived.”

At the current rate of progress, it would take over 100 years to close the gender gap, according to the World Economic Forum. “This projection needs to drop fast,” concludes Deak Jaros.

EY D&I Awards

J-Win Diversity Award
EY Japan recognised as one of the top companies for empowering and advancing female professionals by NPO J-Win, a sister organisation of Catalyst. 

DiversityInc’s inaugural Top 50 Hall of Fame (2018), United States
In addition to being inducted into the Top 50 Hall of Fame, EY was recognised on the following specialty lists:

No. 1 Company for Diversity Councils
No. 1 Company for People with Disabilities
No. 1 Company for Mentoring
No. 1 Company for Employee Resource Groups
No. 2 Company for Executive Women
No. 3 Company for Supplier Diversity
No. 3 Company for Recruitment
Top Company for LGBT Employees

Employer of the Year for LGBTI Workplace Inclusion
Ranked by the Australian Workplace Equality Index.

FORTUNE Magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For”
For the 20th consecutive year, Ernst & Young LLP appears on FORTUNE magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” list.

Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index
Each year since 2005, Ernst & Young LLP has earned the HRC Corporate Equality Index 100% rating. Our 100% score reflects its active support of an inclusive workplace for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

Diversity Best Practices Inclusion Index (2018) 
Ernst & Young LLP has been recognised for the second year in a row on the Diversity Best Practices Inclusion Index, acknowledging its best-in-class diversity and inclusion practices in recruitment, retention, and advancement; company culture; and demographic transparency.

Tokyo Labor Bureau’s “Eruboshi” certification
EY Japan has been accredited with the “Eruboshi” certification (the highest ranking) as a company promoting women’s empowerment.

Canada’s Best Diversity Employers 
As rated by Mediacorp.

Diversity Impact Award, India
Recognised four years in a row by World HRD Congress for efforts to promote gender parity and inclusive culture.

Top 50 Employers for Women, United Kingdom
Based on the British broadsheet The Times in partnership with Business in the Community (BITC).

EY Brazil collected two Women in Leadership Latin America Awards
A winner in the categories: Balance between Work and Personal Life, Consulting.

Star Performer Status in the Stonewall Equality Index, named Employer of the Year, UK and Ireland
Recognised for their work to foster an inclusive culture of LGBT professionals.

Financial Times and OUTstanding lists of Top LGBT+ executives, allies, and future leaders, Global 
Six employees named LGBT+ role models by OUTstanding and the Financial Times.