Deloitte legacy firms have a long history of promoting diversity and inclusion around the globe. For Deloitte today, cultural inclusion remains a top priority amid the knowledge that it’s still a work in progress.
In the late 1950s, the Deloitte predecessor firm Howard Pim & Hardy hired a new accountant. However, the firm first had to seek permission from clients before sending Norman Song on an audit, because Norman Song was Chinese, and Howard Pim & Hardy operated in Apartheid South Africa.
The firm had a reputation for challenging South Africa’s oppressive regime. Founder Howard Pim had fought segregation in the early 1900s and directed his philanthropic focus to the country’s black citizens.
Deloitte & Co., which would join with Pim’s firm as part of the Deloitte & Touche merger in 1989, was also a leader in advocating for minority rights. It hired its first black clerk in 1974. Ten years later, Vassi Naidoo was named partner—the first black partner at any South African firm. Naidoo went on to serve Deloitte Southern Africa as CEO.
Racial inclusion has been just one of Deloitte’s cultural priorities. In 1995, a group of six LGBT employees in the US lobbied Deloitte LLP leadership, resulting in the listing of LGBT people in Deloitte LLP’s annual Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filing, as well as the creation of the GLOBE employee resource group. These efforts helped Deloitte LLP achieve a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index in 2006—a ranking it has held ever since. In recent years, Inclusion Councils have joined the effort to increase representation and reinforce the importance of diversity worldwide.
In addition, Deloitte has placed a fresh emphasis on the largest underrepresented group: women. Women have worked at Deloitte and its predecessors for more than a century. The first female typist joined Deloitte, Plender, Griffiths & Co. in 1902, and Haskins & Sells hired its first woman CPA after World War I. Touche Ross became the first major accounting firm to have a female partner, Dorothy Willard, following a 1967 merger, and in 1969 was the first to name a female partner, Mary J. McCann. However, while progress has been made through the years, gender parity remains a significant challenge and concern today.
To address the challenge, Deloitte launched ALL IN in 2019, with a focus on accelerating the promotion of women to leadership positions around the globe. All member firms’ gender and inclusion efforts will be evaluated, from hiring and onboarding to promotion and succession, so that the Deloitte of the future has a steady and growing pipeline of female leaders.
The better we all understand one another, the greater is the hope for a peaceful and prosperous South Africa. The future progress of South Africa is inseparably bound up with the economic prosperity of all sections of our South African population.
-Howard Pim, founder, Howard Pim & Hardy, 1905