The Review, undertaken by independent experts Elizabeth Broderick & Co (EB&Co.), was a deep examination of workplace culture, work practices and psychological health and safety in EY Oceania’s two largest Member Firms, Australia and New Zealand.
EY Oceania commissioned the Review in September 2022 following the tragic death of our colleague Aishwarya Venkat in the firm’s Sydney office. Aishwarya’s death saddened and shocked people across the organisation and was a catalyst for EY Oceania to understand the workplace experiences of its people more deeply.
EY Oceania also wanted to better understand the workplace experiences of its people following COVID-19, a period of unprecedented anxiety and uncertainty for many, and to help inform meaningful actions to build a more inclusive, safe and respectful workplace.
EB&Co. has confirmed this Review is the most comprehensive examination of workplace culture ever undertaken in the Australian professional services industry.
More than 4,500 current and former employees of EY across Australia and New Zealand participated in the Review via an online survey, confidential one-on-one interviews, written submissions, and group listening sessions. This enabled EB&Co. to gather information to identify what is working well, areas for improvement and actions EY Oceania can take to continue to promote an inclusive and respectful workplace.
The Report included the following key findings:
- Overall, the vast majority of people feel safe in EY Oceania workplaces and believe people behave in a respectful manner towards others. Over nine in ten of our people agreed that they always feel safe in their workplace (94 per cent) and that people behave in a respectful manner towards others (92 per cent).
- Some 74 per cent of people report that they rarely feel excluded in the workplace, suggesting that a significant minority at times do feel excluded.
- However, positive experiences are not experienced by all, and negative experiences have a significant impact on individuals, teams and the firm.
- Despite initiatives to advance a safe, inclusive and respectful culture, in the last five years 15 per cent of people have experienced bullying, ten per cent indicated they had experienced sexual harassment, and eight per cent of people experienced racism.
- Long working hours and overwork are a critical issue, having a negative impact on individual wellbeing, team cohesion and retention with 46 per cent reporting that their health has been negatively affected as a result, and two in five people considering quitting.
- 31 per cent of people at EY are working 51 or more hours in a week, at least one week out of every four; approximately one in ten (11 per cent) are working 61 or more hours in a week, at least one week out of every four.
- There is a relatively high level of confidence that EY Oceania can address many of the issues explored in the Review with 78 per cent feeling confident the organisation will make meaningful change in relation to sexual harassment, 74 per cent in relation to racism, and 70 per cent in relation to bullying. However, only 31 per cent of people are confident EY Oceania can change a culture of long work hours and overwork.
- The Report identifies that many of these issues are known challenges across professional services firms in Australia, particularly balancing productivity and wellbeing, and that these issues lend themselves to shared learning and shared problem solving across firms.
The Report includes 27 recommendations to help EY Oceania make meaningful improvements to its workplace culture and positively promote the wellbeing of its people. EY Oceania accepts all the recommendations and will now work closely with its people to implement them.