PwC Chairman: We have to close the gap on income inequality

PwC Chairman Tim Ryan sees income inequality in the United States as a societal risk and says it is about "keeping capitalism alive."

Posted: Nov 26, 2018 5:36 PM
Updated: Nov 26, 2018 5:53 PM

When Botham Jean, a 26-year-old black associate at PricewaterhouseCoopers, was shot and killed in his Dallas home by an off-duty police officer in September, Tim Ryan found himself at the forefront of yet another difficult conversation with his employees about race.

In an email, the US chairman of PwC encouraged all employees to "take time to understand the experiences our underrepresented minorities — and especially, in this situation, our black colleagues — experience in everyday life so that we can all be better co-workers, friends and allies."

This kind of understanding is something Ryan has been seeking since he first became chairman in July 2016. Just days into his new role, the shootings of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling by police officers, as well as the shootings of five Dallas police officers by a lone gunman occurred over the course of just three days.

"We started to see the unraveling, in my view, of America," Ryan tells CNN's Poppy Harlow in the latest episode of Boss Files. "When I came to work on Friday morning, the silence was deafening."

"Ultimately I had to make a decision... let's talk about it."

He ignored some of those closest to him who warned him not to take on the issue of race in the workplace. "One CEO said to me, 'You're crazy, this is going to blow up in your face,'" Ryan reflects.

Instead, the Boston native defied critics who questioned what he knew about the challenges of diversity, and launched a series of emotional, company wide conversations about race that continue to this day.

"While I may not be Latino or black or female, I am a leader of our people and that's where my responsibility lies: to our ethics, to our values, to our people, and to our clients. I think it's the responsibility, regardless of what you look like, or who you are, to take this issue on. And that's what we did," Ryan says.

The resulting conversations were eye-opening, Ryan says. He learned that many of the black professionals that he works with have had to teach their kids that they may get pulled over by police for no reason other than the color of their skin, or that these employees carry their PwC business card with them in case they get pulled over to prove to police that they can afford the car that they're driving in.

Ryan says it was "heartbreaking" to hear these stories and he was embarrassed that he didn't know about them.

"If we don't make it safe for [employees] to talk about what's really on their minds, we'll never be the business we want and serve our clients, the way we want to," Ryan says.

In 2017, Ryan helped start CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion, a collaboration of CEOs across corporate America dedicated to promoting discussions of workplace diversity and inclusion. As part of this effort, Ryan has called on all Fortune 1000 CEOs to sign a diversity pledge.

When he began reaching out to CEOs, Ryan expected 25 to 40 to sign the pledge. Today, more than 500 have signed on.

"The complexity of the job of CEO today is multiplied by tenfold," Ryan tells Harlow. "The skillsets a CEO needs today, are much more than what a CEO needed just five years ago. Because if you're not engaging with society, they will judge you harshly. If you're not engaging with society, you won't win the war for talent."

While Corporate America has been talking about improving diversity for decades, Ryan says he is starting to see some real momentum. In a new PwC survey of corporate directors, 91% report that their boards have taken some steps to increase diversity -- up four percentage points since last year.

"My goal is to help be one of the many leaders, who can help American business be relevant on inclusion," Ryan says. "I would love to be remembered as somebody who led a movement that had America's workplaces be fully inclusive."

His efforts on diversity have some questioning whether he may eventually run for public office.

"We'll see," Ryan tells Harlow. "There's a tremendous opportunity to help society... It is something that's very attractive, to be able to help where we need to go as a country. We need people who can find common ground, and we need people who can pull people together, find a common problem and try to get it solved."

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 941120

Reported Deaths: 15315
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1282511983
Lake633041097
Allen53609758
Hamilton43827447
St. Joseph41906590
Elkhart33545490
Vanderburgh30383448
Tippecanoe26820249
Johnson23609417
Hendricks22250341
Porter21737346
Clark17409229
Madison17366384
Vigo16108281
Monroe14466191
LaPorte14311239
Delaware14070221
Howard13865272
Kosciusko11418135
Hancock10841165
Warrick10674177
Bartholomew10542168
Floyd10430205
Wayne9959226
Grant9130204
Morgan8865160
Boone8389111
Dubois7710123
Dearborn762289
Henry7608130
Noble7413101
Marshall7362128
Cass7176117
Lawrence6957153
Shelby6584111
Jackson656785
Gibson6156107
Harrison603786
Huntington600195
Montgomery5805105
DeKalb574291
Knox5494104
Miami542488
Putnam536768
Clinton533665
Whitley524953
Steuben497268
Wabash483592
Jasper479160
Jefferson470092
Ripley454277
Adams444068
Daviess4169108
Scott405865
White391857
Clay390857
Greene388392
Decatur385296
Wells384983
Fayette374278
Posey359941
Jennings353156
Washington332047
LaGrange321375
Spencer317835
Fountain316555
Randolph312888
Sullivan307449
Owen283863
Starke280064
Fulton277553
Orange275859
Jay254837
Perry251652
Carroll243729
Franklin239338
Rush234130
Vermillion233250
Parke219820
Tipton209655
Pike207639
Blackford168334
Pulaski163551
Crawford146018
Newton144345
Benton142516
Brown135346
Martin128217
Switzerland125810
Warren114616
Union96911
Ohio79711
Unassigned0479

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1365800

Reported Deaths: 21596
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1522221560
Cuyahoga1344852327
Hamilton976051320
Montgomery670271141
Summit562091047
Lucas50900863
Butler47417655
Stark41580976
Lorain31567532
Warren30001331
Mahoning26963639
Clermont25628292
Lake24585417
Delaware22313145
Licking20487241
Fairfield20420221
Greene20309272
Trumbull19866509
Medina19796287
Clark17879328
Richland16314234
Portage16130229
Wood15681208
Allen14115256
Miami13786253
Muskingum12641152
Wayne11946238
Columbiana11708241
Tuscarawas10953269
Marion10725148
Pickaway10465129
Scioto10324127
Erie9747171
Ross9436176
Lawrence8755125
Hancock8458141
Ashtabula8317185
Geauga8173156
Belmont8140187
Jefferson7527172
Huron7423128
Union731851
Washington7183120
Athens697165
Sandusky6848134
Darke6756136
Knox6671122
Seneca6358137
Ashland5948113
Auglaize587188
Shelby5727101
Brown564171
Mercer557890
Defiance5483101
Madison543371
Crawford5425114
Highland541581
Fulton530683
Clinton525580
Logan512182
Preble4994110
Putnam4833106
Guernsey470364
Williams459282
Perry449852
Champaign445964
Ottawa436884
Jackson425362
Pike388843
Morrow383851
Fayette375853
Coshocton374766
Adams360675
Hardin359069
Gallia347356
Holmes3259108
Henry324668
Van Wert314670
Hocking301769
Wyandot280658
Carroll262652
Paulding242243
Meigs213942
Monroe189749
Noble169340
Morgan165829
Harrison157940
Vinton138118
Unassigned05
Fort Wayne
Cloudy
55° wxIcon
Hi: 56° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 55°
Angola
Cloudy
50° wxIcon
Hi: 53° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 50°
Huntington
Cloudy
55° wxIcon
Hi: 55° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 55°
Decatur
Cloudy
55° wxIcon
Hi: 56° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 55°
Van Wert
Cloudy
52° wxIcon
Hi: 55° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 52°
Rain chances continue for at least the first half of Thursday before gradually tapering off.
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events