The impact on our firm, our clients, our people and our communities was immediate and while the lockdown occurred nine months into our financial year, its effects and the economic disruption that accompanied it are still being felt.
Our Integrated Report tells the story of this extraordinary year. We start by focusing on the direct impact of the pandemic and how we coped, including; the remote delivery of work to our clients as they respond and recover; the support we provided to our communities and the wider economy throughout lockdown; our focus on our people’s mental and physical wellbeing; and our renewed efforts to build a culture that prioritises diversity and inclusion. We’re also proud to be contributing to growth initiatives that support the South African government, particularly with COVID-19-related matters.
Over the past year our people have been exposed to a working environment unlike any we’ve experienced before. Along with the anxiety posed by the COVID-19 virus, we saw people having to deal with the challenges of remote working, home schooling, caring for extended families, and coping with the mental and financial repercussions of loss of income and other economic factors. Read more about how we support our people here.
COVID-19 and the resultant lockdown forced our entire workforce into a remote working environment, literally overnight. Our investment in technology over the past few years has been significant, and was a contributing factor to the success of this transformation in the way we work. From a technology perspective, there was very little change required in order to enable the entire PwC business to work from home.
Over the last few years, PwC has invested in an extensive range of technology to modernise and mobilise our global workforce.
Across PwC Africa this included replacing our entire inter-office network and starting the journey to phase out our data centres and migrate our entire application landscape into the cloud, in line with our global technology strategy. These developments facilitated the centralisation of the information security systems, which are now run by a dedicated global team, protecting our entire global IT environment.
This investment served us extremely well when COVID-19 struck and the countries in which we operate announced varying degrees of lockdown. In South Africa this resulted in the entire firm transitioning to working from home, with a couple of days notice. Thankfully our IT infrastructure enabled this transition with very little disruption to the business - and has continued to sustain the remote workforce effectively since then!
Our digital transformation journey Within the Fourth Industrial Revolution and in the wake of the recent global pandemic, never before has the need for digital transformation been so critical. Successful organisational change goes much deeper than the technology; it requires the alignment of people-centric initiatives with a well understood change story. It has the power to change behaviour and lead people along the envisaged transformational journey. It’s about building an integrated programme of digital transformation initiatives, all working together to realise the business objectives. Learning from our internal digital transformation journey, we’ve compiled a list of elements that have been of value and shaped our journey. These all need to work together and run in parallel. Learn about the elements that helped shape our digital transformation journey.
From March 2020, and over the course of the following four months, PwC tracked sentiment and priorities among finance leaders about the COVID-19 outbreak. In a series of five reports, the latter two including input from CFOs across Africa, we surveyed close to 1000 CFOs from 42 countries, including countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Survey questions varied according to the various stages of the pandemic, and offered an insightful and honest look at the issues facing the world’s finance leaders. Read the reports and insights here.
One of the ways in which we contribute to societal purpose is by assisting communities, organisations or individuals in need. Our Umbono staff contribution fund was very active this past year, particularly during the lockdown period. Some of the initiatives they implemented are included here.
COVID-19 presented South African organisations with the opportunity to make a real difference in our country. During this time we provided - and continue to provide - support to a number of industries, from public sector to financial services, owner-managed businesses and SMMEs. We also support a number of government-led initiatives, with time, expertise and other services. Read more.