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Bridging the generation gap

Published on Friday, 01 Jun 2012

How do you promote diversity, inclusiveness and harmony at work?

As one of the global leaders in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services, Ernst & Young employs 152,000 people worldwide, including 10,000 in Greater China and 2,000 in Hong Kong.

United by shared values and a  commitment to quality, Ernst & Young pledges to make a difference by helping our staff, our clients and our wider communities achieve their potential.

Diversity and inclusiveness (D&I) are more than fundamental values at Ernst & Young. Becoming a leading organisation in the way we act and think about D&I is one of our global priorities.

We believe that embedding a sustainable, inclusive culture in the way we operate will enable our staff to achieve their potential and make a difference, wherever they are  from and whoever they are. 

Strategy

We are focusing our efforts in the areas of gender, generations and multiculturalism. We believe that by focusing on these areas we will make the most progress towards developing an inclusive and diverse culture.

Meanwhile, through a number of support programmes, our staff will be able to adopt a global mindset and have the capacity to embrace differences.

Recognising the objectives mentioned above, we have established several support networks to help our staff achieve a successful career, as well as maintain a healthy personal life.

The Working Parents’ Network is a support group for working parents, or individuals who will soon become working parents. It meets regularly to discuss hot topics, share best practices, and facilitate talks  concerning issues that working parents face each day. Keynote speakers are also invited to share their experience and provide advice.

The Professional Women’s Network is aimed at our female professionals to offer them support, networking and role models to learn from. The group will host both internal and external events open to both female and male colleagues. These events will provide participants with an opportunity to network both internally  and externally. It should also provide a host of inspirational role models. 

Impact
We recently launched the Meet Our Women Leaders campaign. With nine female leaders’ stories written in  English and Chinese, and published  on the in-house website and externally in various publications, we hope to promote the female role models in our firm and demonstrate our commitment to supporting women’s career development in accounting.

The Cross Generation Network is a platform for our leaders and colleagues to have a better mutual understanding with Generation Y (GenY) staff, to better engage our multi-generation workforce.

The network aims to “close the gap” between  generations. It is important to leverage the strength of people from different backgrounds and generations, to produce sustainable growth. 

A substantial number of colleagues from the Post-’80s will soon take up senior management roles. It is essential to enhance communication with them, to understand their thoughts, their rationale and their personal objectives. Ultimately, this will help us establish a more effective work protocol to engage with this group of colleagues.

We recently  also launched  Cross-Generation Network – Breakfast with RMP (Regional Managing Partner). We have also formed  groups to share information and exchange opinions.

The feedback from this new activity is very positive because it opens up a whole new communication channel, and gives us a greater understanding of one other.

The “Cross Generation Network” is proving very successful. Through various conversations, we have come to realise that our Gen-Y colleagues treasure their work-life balance; they look for a happy and relaxing working environment; and they prefer to have open communication with the management.

Future plans
Thanks to a number of support networks mentioned above, we have collected valuable opinions from our staff on how to improve communication. We also have received positive comments on how to engage our multi-generation workforce.

Moving forward, we plan to organise more team-building exercises to provide opportunities for our colleagues to mingle and share ideas on common interests and topics. Other casual activities such as “happy hour” drinks and department lunches with partners and senior staff will also be held.

The new generation from the post-’90s will join the workforce very soon. To help this new generation adapt to a new working environment, our unique EYAcademy programme presents a holistic approach to nurture their personal and professional development. Eventually, we aim to produce the leaders of tomorrow.

Ernst & Young will continue to recruit new talent. This year, we plan to hire 2,000 staff in Greater China, with no fewer than 400 new openings in Hong Kong alone. 

As told to Wong Yat-Hei

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