Place and purpose are central to the strategy for PwC in Scotland - Mairi McInnes

This time last year, the countdown was on to the crucial COP26 conference in Glasgow. With climate change, energy transition and Net Zero forming a key part of our business and purpose agenda, and the energy industry across Scotland being a natural cluster for the UK, the event saw PwC’s global and Scottish leadership teams become part of a worldwide conversation with the country at its heart.

Our involvement was a prime example of business purpose in action – something we place great emphasis on, because we’re acutely aware of the importance of purpose for our clients, own teams and the communities in which we work.

Earlier this year, a UK-wide ‘Hopes & Fears’ employee survey demonstrated that people want to work for organisations making clear progress towards greater environmental, social and governance (ESG) commitments. Of those surveyed, just over half (51 per cent) stated they were ‘extremely or very confident’ their employer is transparent on diversity and inclusion, and less than half (45 per cent) were ‘extremely or very confident’ of their employer’s transparency on sustainability.

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Not only does a clear purpose, backed with measurable action, make an organisation more attractive to talent, but it also benefits wider society. It’s important to have meaningful goals behind what we do, whether that’s individually on a personal or professional level, or as a collective business. This emphasis on place – a focus on local issues close to each of our Scottish offices and projects that have meaningful value to our people in the areas they live and work – as well as purpose is central to our strategy for PwC in Scotland.

The Earth hangs over an empty Action Zone in the OVO Hydro building during the COP26 summit in Glasgow last year

Against a backdrop of major economic, social and climate challenges, this work is particularly important. As well as an increasing wealth gap and environmental catastrophes, there’s an acute lack of balance in economic growth. This was abundantly clear in our most recent UK Economic Outlook, which demonstrated the widening regional productivity gap, predicted slow growth, and highlighted the threat of recession.

While we cannot solve these myriad issues alone, as an organisation we have convening power within our gift, bringing together businesses, government, academia, social enterprises and our own people to improve outcomes in the places we work. We bring our own people along on the journey to ensure inward as well as outward focus, so they too can benefit from the work we do.

In taking on the role of Place and Purpose Lead for PwC Scotland, making sure this purpose runs through every facet of our work is my key objective – something we’re striving for, and are making great strides in.

Firstly, it’s because we’re focused on areas where we can have the greatest impact through connection to our core business. We’re focused on Trade and Investment, Environment, and Fairness and Inclusion – while work in and around our office communities sits alongside as a critical priority. Our ‘why’ is building trust in society and solving important problems. Secondly, it’s because we have the backing of our Scottish leadership, driving the vital purpose-related work carried out by our teams and stakeholders.

Mairi McInnes is Global Director, Private Equity & Sovereign Funds, and Place & Purpose Lead Scotland at PwC UK.

We are building strong relationships with key stakeholders across sectors. This starts at a grassroots level, partnering with social enterprises on our office doorsteps and collaborating with leading local associations; and extends to deep specialist insight for clients and communities, such as Good Growth for Cities and our Green Jobs Barometer, which look at how we can improve social mobility and our environment.

The connections we make through place and purpose, and the investment we have made – and continue to make – across Scotland makes me exceptionally proud. I’m excited to see what else we can achieve in the communities where our clients and people live and work – particularly if and when more businesses place even more emphasis on their ‘why’.

Mairi McInnes is Global Director, Private Equity & Sovereign Funds, and Place & Purpose Lead Scotland at PwC UK. Find out more at www.pwc.com

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