2009 PR News CSR Award: Human Rights Communications

PricewaterhouseCoopers for Responsible Leadership

As the company’s 10th anniversary drew near, PricewaterhouseCoopers executives decided that giving back to global communities would be the best way to celebrate the milestone. Thus, the team launched the Responsible Leadership initiative, in which communities around the world would benefit from the company’s aggressive human rights outreach.

With so many human rights violations occurring daily, it’s difficult to identify the direst ones. Luckily, the PwC team didn’t have to, as the scope of this project was so broad that it could address multiple needs at the same time. After conducting in-depth research, the execs homed in on situations that they felt compelled to stand up and fight for, including:

  • The crisis in Darfur: Since 2003, more than 240,000 refugees have fled to Eastern Chad, having been prompted by insecurity and violent political upheaval.
  • Natural disasters in Myanmar and China: In May 2008, powerful cyclones tore through Myanmar, leaving the nation in ruins. Likewise, that same month, an earthquake that registered 8.5 on the Richter scale devastated the Sichuan province of China.
  • Low education rates in Belize: Because only primary education is free in Belize, just 20% of students are able to attend high school.

Focusing on these three causes would spread the proverbial wealth to diverse regions around the globe; now, it was just a matter of inciting change. The team executed the following strategies to address each cause:

  • Darfur: PwC participated in National Refugee Day (June 20, 2008), and joined global colleagues in contributing to relief efforts through the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR).
  • Belize: Dubbed “Project Belize,” PwC got its interns involved, choosing 100 interns, 17 high-performing employees and four partners to spend five days in Belize mentoring children in four inner-city schools.
  • Myanmar and China: The PwC Charitable Foundation donated more than $1.5 million to U.N.-sponsored relief efforts in China and Myanmar.

But the initiative didn’t stop there. To ensure that their efforts would reverberate beyond these individual regions, the PwC team also leveraged its global leadership program, Ulysses. The program, which gives PwC employees the opportunity to develop responsible leadership skills, became an annual event that includes eight-week project assignments, in which multicultural teams work in developing countries in collaboration with local social organizations.