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How EY is working to uplift social equity through authentic storytelling

It’s time to reimagine a more equitable working world where everyone — particularly those facing barriers and disadvantages — can thrive.

In brief
  • In today’s world, disparities in access to resources and opportunities have been increasingly spotlighted and, in many cases, gaps are widening.
  • At EY, we’ve elevated social equity in our DE&I work: using storytelling to build awareness, sparking conversations, and challenging processes and systems.
  • Hearing our colleagues’ lived experiences has created powerful connections and insights at EY. Now, these stories are having a larger ripple effect.

Social equity impacts all of us — and all of us can make an impact. Based on our backgrounds and identities, we’re all part of different social groups. The groups we find ourselves in can mean deep-rooted advantage, or disadvantage, in terms of access to resources and opportunities — and gaps in how we’re perceived and evaluated.

According to the UN, 71% of the world’s population lives in countries where inequality has grown. And inequalities between social groups, including those based on age, gender, race, ethnicity, religion and disability, are pervasive in developed and developing countries alike.

Addressing those underlying inequities requires paying closer attention, ongoing learning, and recognizing and addressing barriers with consistency and focus.

Inequities can be rooted in societal, structural, and situational dynamics, which can all carry impact in workplaces and societies and make people feel more like “outsiders” versus “insiders” at work.

For example, in some societies, people of certain backgrounds or identities may be at greater risk of discrimination, based on historically rooted dynamics. Structures that define how we live, work and operate within these societies might reinforce these dynamics, making access to opportunities uneven. And situationally through everyday interactions, these dynamics may be even further repeated or reinforced.

In our organizations, we can work to disrupt these dynamics through how we team and lead, the cultures we create, how we assign and value work, how we evaluate performance, and make advancement and appointment decisions. We have an opportunity to listen to our people’s experiences to better recognize how inequities are replicated and reinforced in often unnoticed ways.

Why action is needed now

Around the world, we’re seeing heightened social and political tensions and significant disruption. There’s also an increasing sense of polarization that’s making people feel more like outsiders.

According to the EY Belonging Barometer survey of more than 5,000 employed adults from organizations across the globe, more people feel lonely and lack a sense of belonging, which is impacting physical and mental wellbeing. Among the groups feeling most impacted are those with disabilities and the LGBT+ community — further compounding the effect of existing inequities.

Previous EY research (via US) has shown that more than one-third of workers feel the greatest sense of belonging at work, second only to home. This emphasizes the opportunity organizations have to build environments that are inclusive and equitable, given the important role they play in people’s lives.

What’s encouraging is that, over the last few years, more conversations are happening on the topic of social equity. It’s a growing expectation among employees, and companies are paying closer attention to address potential inequities — for example, applying an equity lens to processes such as pay and promotions.

Today, there’s opportunity for all of us — individuals and businesses alike — to do more to address discrimination, bias and racism directly, to help build a better working world.

What we’ve learned — the power of storytelling

Social equity is about clearing obstacles, building more inclusive environments and enabling access to resources and opportunities so everyone can thrive.

"If you leave a piece of yourself behind before you walk through the office doors, the ripple effect it has on your mental health and relationships is difficult."

Matt - Uplift social equity storyteller

Building more awareness of inequities has been one important step forward for us at EY. And we’ve learned that storytelling is a powerful way to reach our people and inspire deeper conversations that truly drive change. Stanford research shows that stories are remembered up to 22 times more than facts alone. Recently, we learned about the lived experiences of EY people, in their own words, through our global storytelling campaign, Uplift.

The films shared the barriers faced by these colleagues. These range from experiences in social settings and interactions at work, to the impact of being regarded — or disregarded — based on aspects of their backgrounds and identities. The stories may resonate with many of us or open our eyes to barriers we might otherwise be unaware of.

Watch the storytelling videos.

The Uplift campaign was launched by our global CEO on a webcast to all EY people. Through a survey following, 90% agreed it was “inspiring” to hear EY’s commitment to social equity. The storytelling campaign has been meaningful to us internally, sparking reflections, insights and conversations. The stories have helped us to better engage with one another as a community, building greater connections and understanding. Now, we’re sharing them beyond EY in hopes of sparking conversations on a greater scale.

"It makes you rethink that, despite all that training, people are thinking ‘oh you are blind, and you may not be capable enough to do all that work.'"

Chandni  - Uplift social equity storyteller

Other actions EY is taking to promote social equity

During these times of fast-paced change, we want to inspire our people to team and lead inclusively every day, because we believe that a better working world is a more inclusive and equitable one. As emphasized by EY Global Chairman and CEO, Carmine Di Sibio, “We’re committed to building an environment where all differences are valued, practices are equitable, and everyone experiences a sense of belonging.”


EY’s diversity, equity and inclusiveness (DE&I) journey spans many years. Most recently, we’ve stepped up our existing commitment with a specific focus on social equity, including:

  • Councils of influencers to capture all voices: Building on the work of our long-standing Global Diversity, Equity and Inclusiveness Steering Committee (GDEISC), we formed the Global Social Equity Taskforce (GSET) in 2020. Made up of 40 senior EY leaders across geographies, functions and backgrounds, the GSET has developed a suite of actions to advance social equity at EY and beyond.
  • EY Global DE&I Tracker to hold ourselves accountable to progress: Creating a global standard for DE&I measurement across our business units, covering a range of differences, both visible and not visible. This is the third consecutive year of this measurement tool and we’ve seen continued, compounding progress.  
  • Learning for all: Our “Inclusive Leadership for ALL” e-learning course is now available to all of our 365,000 people. Our people can also work towards an Inclusion and Belonging Badge through our global upskilling program, EY Badges. This learning drives more inclusive behavior at EY, including how we team, assign work, evaluate, make advancement decisions, and bring more voices to the table.
  • Sparking conversations: We’re inviting more conversations that acknowledge our differences and help us recognize and address inequities. These include situational inequities like assumptions about a person’s ability level, as well as potential structural inequities in processes like pay, recognition and promotions.
  • Putting equity guardrails in place: so that internal systems, processes and programs are more inclusive and equitable, we have for example, set the expectation that a diverse group of decision-makers participate in panels, reviews and committees when making key business decisions.
  • Listening to our people and learning where the gaps lie: To better understand our EY people and to ensure hidden inequities are uncovered and addressed, we launched expanded global Self-ID capabilities in 2022 — an increased range of personal information choices in our HR reporting systems for EY people to voluntarily select. Also, listening tools like the EY People Pulse survey help us better understand how people are feeling and what they need. We look at differentials in responses based on dimensions like cultural background, gender and generation, with a goal to minimize gaps.

As EY Asia-Pacific Area Managing Partner, Patrick Winter, said, “We knew that the conversations we were having had the potential to become something bigger. We began asking better questions, like, ‘What if I stepped in to make someone’s experience more equitable?’ and ‘What if I intentionally use inclusive behaviors to disrupt dynamics taking place, so no one is left on the outside?’”

We knew that the conversations we were having had the potential to become something bigger.
"People judge others by the way they speak, and if a person is not able to say much, then there is a risk that the person may not be fairly assessed."

Eng - Uplift social equity storyteller

We’ve seen how enhanced DE&I efforts have strengthened our business and created more exceptional career experiences for our people. While we’re proud of our progress, we acknowledge there are still differences in how people of different backgrounds and identities experience EY, and we will keep working to recognize and address barriers. Our journey continues and we hold ourselves accountable to progress.

How can we bring more people in, so no one is left out?

At EY, we’ve brought together — not just our people at all levels — but all areas of the business to bring more points of view and potential solutions to the table. For example in Consulting, our EY Global Vice Chair Errol Gardner said, “our teams are transforming businesses through the power of people. There’s no reason we can’t apply this same methodology to social issues. We know we can build a better world by uplifting social equity — both within our walls and beyond.”

At EY, our teams are transforming businesses through the power of people. We know we can build a better world by uplifting social equity — both within our walls and beyond.

There’s a role for everyone in creating a more equitable world. By creating space for greater awareness, understanding, and accountability we believe all organizations can more effectively connect people, bridge their experiences, and have a positive impact on our societies. Together, we can drive change on a much larger scale through conversations and collaborative solutions and actions.

We hope to spark more conversations by sharing our powerful Uplift campaign films externally to ignite curiosity across our differences, inspire personal learning and even more individual action. We know that better understanding enables better connections, which ultimately enables more inclusive environments where more voices can be heard and valued, and people feel free to be themselves.

We’re committed to building an environment where all differences are valued, practices are equitable and everyone experiences a sense of belonging.


Social equity impacts all of us, and all of us can make an impact. It’s about clearing obstacles, building more inclusive environments and enabling access to resources and opportunities so everyone can thrive. As one step forward, we launched a series of short films featuring colleagues from around the world, to spotlight different experiences and to better tune in with one another. These stories have sparked insights, deeper conversations and inspired further learning and action. Now, we’re sharing them outside EY in hope that others will join the conversation.

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