Our people

Our people are the key to performing high-quality audits, and we are committed to building high-performing teams. That is why we focus on attracting and inspiring great people, promoting an inclusive culture that values each individual, and retaining and developing our professionals to prepare them for the audit of the future.

Attracting exceptional talent

Our audit practice recruits primarily on college and university campuses, where we actively promote the EY brand and the value of an audit career both in person and through social media. Our reputation as a great place to work enhances our ability to attract top talent.

Ten EY US professionals were recognized recently by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) for achieving exceptional results on the CPA exam.

EY is widely recognized as a great place to work, as demonstrated by the following:

  • Universum’s annual World’s Most Attractive Employer rankings (EY US was ranked 1st for professional services)
  • DiversityInc’s 2017 Top 50 Companies for Diversity (EY US ranked 1st overall)
  • Fortune magazine’s 100 Best Companies to Work For® for the 19th consecutive year (EY US ranked 29, up from 49 in 2016)

Leveraging diversity and promoting inclusiveness

Diversity and inclusiveness (D&I) is central to our ability to deliver high-quality audits. We believe we create high-performing teams when we bring together professionals with different opinions, perspectives, skill sets and cultural references.

To measure our progress, we look at a number of metrics, including the percentages of women and minorities we recruit and promote into leadership positions. We are proud that 43% of our partner promotion class in 2017 are women or minorities, up from 21% 15 years ago. In addition, 44% of our campus hires in fiscal 2017 are women and nearly 30% are minorities.

EY - Percentage of new partners who are women or minorities

We have also been recognized for D&I efforts by the following organizations:

  • Working Mother magazine – 100 Best Companies (Hall of Fame, Top 10)
  • National Association for Female Executives – Top Companies for Executive Women
  • Human Rights Campaign – 100% rating for Corporate Equality Index reflecting our inclusive workplace for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people
Percentage of women in our US audit practice (headcount)
  Fiscal 2017 Fiscal 2016* Fiscal 2015*
Partners 24% 24% 23%
Executive directors 52% 52% 50%
Senior managers and managers 43% 43% 44%
Seniors and staff 47% 47% 46%
Total 44% 44% 43%

*Minor changes to prior-year metrics have been made to reflect our current classification of audit professionals.

Engaging and retaining our best people

We focus on making sure our top performers are engaged so we have the continuity of skills and experience we need to perform high-quality audits, especially on our most complex engagements.

Our number of US audit professionals is consistent with last year.

Number of US audit partners and professional staff (on a full-time equivalent basis)
  Fiscal 2017 Fiscal 2016 Fiscal 2015
Partners 975 973 944
Executive directors 141 128 104
Senior managers and managers 2,230 2,184 2,104
Seniors and staff 7,335 7,444 6,966
Total 10,681 10,729 10,118

To help us attract and engage talented professionals, we launched a new performance development and management approach called LEAD. Our professionals now meet with a counselor and supervisors more frequently to discuss their progress and the skills they need to focus on to perform high-quality audits and advance in their careers.

As part of our new approach, we evaluate the quality of each professional’s work and measure it against a “gold” standard that we apply for each level of responsibility. Performance and pay are linked, and non-partners are required to meet quality thresholds to be eligible to receive payment under our variable compensation program. This promotes accountability.

“LEAD offers an exciting, new approach to talent and career development. By focusing on better conversations and more frequent feedback, we are able to attract and retain top talent.”

EY - Sandra Oliver
Sandra Oliver,
Americas Assurance Talent Leader

We also promote accountability by making the quality of an audit partner’s work a key criterion in his or her evaluation and compensation.

In our view, flexibility is a key to retaining top talent and developing high-performing teams. That is why most of our people are able to work flexibly when they need to, and we offer a wide array of formal flexible work arrangements for those who need to flex more consistently.

Average overtime hours for our non-partners have declined nearly 30% since fiscal 2014, primarily due to our strategy to reduce our professionals’ workload and give them a better work-life balance. Average overtime hours for our partners were consistent with fiscal 2016.

Average overtime hours by rank
  Fiscal 2017 Fiscal 2016 Fiscal 2015
Partners 456 449 499
Executive directors 349 366 439
Senior managers and managers 284 318 363
Seniors and staff 225 239 279

We believe our efforts to keep our people engaged are working. Our retention rate for non-partners who received our top performance rating rose by one percentage point to 87% over the past two years, and our retention rate for top-rated senior managers and managers during that time period increased by two percentage points to 91% in fiscal 2017. Those numbers far exceed our overall retention rate for non-partners of 76%.

US audit overall non-partner retention rate by rank
  Fiscal 2017 Fiscal 2016* Fiscal 2015*
Executive directors 99% 97% 97%
Senior managers and managers 82% 82% 80%
Seniors and staff 73% 76% 75%
Total 76% 78% 77%

*Minor changes to prior-year metrics have been made to reflect our current classification of audit professionals.

EY - Retention for top-rated US audit non-partners exceeds our overall retention

Developing a world class workforce

We plan to accelerate our hiring of professionals with degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) to help us prepare for the audit of the future.  

In our own training, we continue to increase our focus on teaching our professionals how to think critically and apply the knowledge they have gained. In the classroom, our professionals work on simulations of the audit experience and how to focus on risk, understand the professional standards and evaluate whether they have sufficient appropriate audit evidence, all with professional skepticism and due care.

We also continue to shift our technical accounting training to online courses that our people can access on demand, when they need to know more about a particular topic, such as fair value accounting, accounting for debt and equity and foreign currency. We’re also requiring our professionals to take online training in tax accounting and auditing. In addition, we provide industry-specific training to our professionals.

In our recent survey, 92% of our US audit professionals said the experiences they have at EY are valuable for their growth and professional development, and 88% said we provide them with learning opportunities to build the skills they need to be successful.

As a result, our US audit professionals significantly exceed our requirements for continuing professional education.

Average hours of continuing professional education by fiscal year
2015 107
2016 109
2017 108