PwC chair encourages talks on race after Dallas shooting

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Tim Ryan, U.S. chairman of PwC, wants workers to try to understand how black colleagues might be feeling after a police officer shot and killed one of the company’s workers in Dallas last week.

“Emotions are raw not only in Dallas but across the firm,” Ryan said in an email on Tuesday to employees. “It is important that we all 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.”

Botham Jean, a 26-year-old associate in PwC’s Risk Assurance Department and native of the Caribbean island of St. Lucia, was killed last week in his home by Amber Guyger, 30, who said she mistook Jean’s apartment for her own and believed he was an intruder. She was charged with manslaughter on Sunday.

Jean received his bachelor’s degree in business administration, accounting and management information systems from Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas, according to his LinkedIn page. He started as an intern at PwC.

This is the second firm-wide note Ryan has sent in the last two days. He said over the weekend he spoke to Jean’s mother.

‘Role of race’

Ryan, who is white, said he has received questions about the “role of race in this tragedy.”

“There is an ongoing investigation and hopefully we will know more soon,” he said. “That said, what we do know is that an unarmed man was tragically killed in his own home.”

PwC, which has 50,000 employees in the U.S., has encouraged workers to talk about difficult topics in the workplace in the past. Following the police shootings of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling in July 2016 -- the same month that Jean began working at PwC full-time -- the firm held talks about race. Nearly a year later, after a group of white supremacists marched in Charlottesville, Virginia, Ryan released a statement encouraging respectful, open dialogue among co-workers.

Ryan, along with executives from other companies, helped start the CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion pledge in 2017, which seeks to corral chief executive officers into promoting discussions of workplace diversity and inclusion. More than 500 CEOs have signed on.

‘Moment of silence’

Ryan said the company is providing resources for employees and Jean’s family. The PwC Foundation has contributed toward the cost of Jean’s memorial service and the company will make a $50,000 contribution to a scholarship fund that Jean’s family established in the 26-year-old’s honor. PwC also created a scholarship for minority students majoring in accounting at Jean’s alma mater and pledged to make another $50,000 donation to that fund.

PwC will observe a moment of silence on Thursday afternoon, coinciding with Jean’s funeral, which Ryan will attend.

Bloomberg News
Practice management PwC