Maria Castanon

Nurturing Top Talent at PwC

Since joining PwC (formerly PricewaterhouseCoopers) in 1994, Maria Castañón Moats has climbed the ladder to audit partner of the global professional services firm. One year ago, when senior partner Bob Moritz invited her to join the leadership team as chief diversity officer for the entire organization for a two-year rotation, she leapt at the opportunity. One motivation was PwC’s commitment to diversity and talent development. In recent years, PwC has launched Women Upfront, an interactive community to connect women at the firm with one another; was the first Big 4 accounting firm to establish an LGBT Partner Advisory Board; and has created various multicultural Circles for mentoring and networking.

Diversity Woman spoke with Moats in her New York office about the company’s strategies for helping women and diverse employees thrive.

Diversity Woman: What led PwC to become DiversityIncís top company for diversity this past year?

Maria Castañón Moats : Our model is different from that of other organizations. Usually the CDO function comes through the human resources track.

Here it comes through our line partners. Our leadership team is constantly working within our various groups on diversity strategy, with complete support from the chairman of the company, Bob Moritz, whom I report to directly and meet with frequently. Diversity is always at the table in terms of our visioning and future direction.

DW: Why is diversity so important to PwC?

MCM: Talent is critical in our business. The more diversity we have among our talent, the more diverse ideas we have at the table, and the better we can serve our clients. Retaining and advancing people with what I call “high-level cultural dexterity” is imperative in a global business world.

DW: Why does your company focus on sponsorship?

MCM: Sponsorship goes beyond mentoring. Sponsors are those who hold a great deal of influence in a company. If you can get them to spot diverse talent and go the extra mile to support [those employees] in their careers, you will cultivate a strong, diverse workforce. We ask all our partners to identify three women or minorities they are supporting, so that’s an ingrained part of our corporate culture.

DW: Whatís one of the most important initiatives PwC undertakes to get people on board?

MCM: It’s important to engage in conversation with not only people from diverse backgrounds, but also white men. Getting them excited in this enterprise is critical. We show them that attention to diversity is an important part of being an engaged leader, and that diversity needs to be a part of your DNA if you want to succeed in business.

DW: Any advice for women?

MCM: Set out expectations for what you want to achieve in your career as well as at home. Be realistic––it may be that you can’t cook dinner every night by 5:30, but maybe you can have dinner with your family two or three nights a week, even if it’s at a diner. Then prioritize—daily. It’s a balancing act.

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