It gives me great pleasure to be speaking to you about our latest integrated report.
This integrated report comes at a time of great disruption, not only in our industry and country, but across the African continent, and indeed the world. Coming some eight months after the initial hard lockdown that South Africa experienced, and following months of various levels of restrictions, our world has never looked this way before – and our ‘new’ normal has not yet been defined.
During this time of significant change there are some things that remain the same. We’re committed to driving a strong culture of quality. It’s core to our purpose – to build trust in society and solve important problems. Importantly, it’s also what our clients and stakeholders expect of us as a non-negotiable. Our purpose statement serves as our guiding principle to align the focus of our people and direct the decisions we make and actions we take. It’s reflected in our leadership and governance structures and is consistent throughout our global network. It guides the decisions we make – both internally and externally – and forms the basis of our strategy and is underpinned by expectations of quality and the highest of standards.
As economies continue to reopen, clients are starting to re-engage with pre-COVID challenges and opportunities, while new ones, such as supply chain vulnerabilities, changes in employee expectations, and rising business debt, have taken hold. Organisations, practices, and, in some cases, whole sectors will have to be reshaped.
Our clients in South Africa, from local start-ups to multinationals, across all industries and regions, are faced with economic and political uncertainty, and unprecedented change at an unprecedented pace.
They’ve seen existing issues, such as harnessing the power of technology and managing risk, become even more pressing - while new, evolving pressures like changing operations and employee and customer safety, have now forced their way more consistently onto the agenda.
Working alongside our clients to solve their most important problems, moving with speed, imagination and care, is at the core of our purpose at PwC.
This year, we’ve worked alongside our clients during the COVID-19 crisis in a way that I think really underlines the purpose of PwC: from our work with government, to enagaging with and supporting various sectors, our teams have proudly been at the forefront of reimagining the future in which we find ourselves. While working remotely under exceptional circumstances, we’ve delivered large-scale, technology-enabled transformation projects, strategic workforce initiatives, and thousands of audits.
Continued investment in priority areas has allowed us to help clients transform and grow. We’ve brought new technology and data to our clients, supporting everything from improved tax compliance and reporting, to developing and delivering strategic customer insights. We’ve helped organisations shift to new operating models, to more successfully meet regulatory requirements, and to focus on improving their core business processes.
The COVID-19 pandemic has again validated the many ways that trust is earned and eroded, making the role of trust more important than ever in our relationships with our clients. These relationships are not only built on the character of our people, but also on the breadth and depth of our competence and expertise. This focus on quality is never negotiable.
Speaking of our people, their safety and development has always been at the heart of everything we do. This has been more important than ever over the past year. Equipping people with the skills they need to seamlessly serve our clients remains a key priority. Our investment in technology over a number of years helped us all move smoothly to home working, and our values of care, working together and reimagining the possible have been brought to life as our people adapted to new ways of working and collaborating.
As a large employer, we know we can play an important role in our communities and South African society at large, by providing opportunities for different groups of people. We’ve also used technology to serve our communities, by giving them access to tools like our Digital Fitness App.
Mental, physical and financial concerns were an inevitable side effect of COVID-19, and we continue to make wellness sessions available, free of charge, to all of our people. COVID-19 has demanded new ways of working for many, accelerating tech disruption and changes to jobs. Everybody needs to think differently about skills for a future that is even less predictable than we thought. Our way of work has been forever changed, and we’re supporting our people as they discover their own optimal working environments and schedules.
In many ways COVID-19 has been the ultimate test of what purpose means in practice - seeking the highest standards of quality in all that we do - supporting our people and keeping them safe, helping our clients respond and build back, and using our reach to support our communities. I couldn’t be prouder.
Thank you for taking the time to work through this important document.
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