By Deanna C. White
This November, Ernst & Young became the first and only Big Four accounting firm, and only large professional services firm, to be named one of the World's Best Multinational Workplaces by Great Place to Work® Institute.
Great Place to Work Institute annually studies and identifies the top twenty-five best multinationals in terms of workplace culture. Ernst & Young ranked twelfth on the list.
For many of Ernst & Young's more than 167,000 employees - from those at the very beginnings of their careers to those in the boardroom - the honor is simply another confirmation of why they chose to build their careers at Ernst & Young in the first place.
They believe, says Americas Vice Chair of People Nancy Altobello, that Ernst & Young is a firm that consistently invigorates its employees with new learning opportunities in every geographical location, and at every stage of their development in the company.
"We believe that when people are more in control of their career choices they'll succeed at a higher level", Altobello said, adding that Ernst & Young's commitment to remaining the most globalized, integrated professional service organization, both in mind-set and the way it manages business, underscores that philosophy.
"The exceptional Ernst & Young experience we provide for our people includes the opportunity to work in a truly global and inclusive environment that reaches across geographic borders, cultures, service lines, generations, and professional experiences", Altobello said. "Our people can work alongside colleagues and clients from different countries or cultures, take advantage of a range of global mobility initiatives and international assignments, or participate in learning and development programs to establish a global mind-set."
Altobello is quick to emphasize she believes Ernst & Young's efforts at global integration have been so successful because the integration is intrinsically rooted in the way Ernst & Young operates - not simply an accessory to its workplace culture.
"We have a global business, and our people and programs need to support that. It's not just an add-on, it's how we operate", Altobello said. "It's part of our mind-set, and it's also how we manage our business."
Specific Ernst & Young global initiatives include:
- The Global Exchange Program (GEP). GEP places high-performing seniors or managers from any service line in eighteen- to twenty-four-month overseas assignments. The experience allows them to expand their knowledge of financial systems in other countries.
- The New Horizons Program. The New Horizons program is a three-month international rotation for professionals early in their careers, working on accounts that touch several countries in its Americas area. Last year, more than twenty participants successfully completed the program between the United States, Canada, and Brazil. In 2012, program participation more than doubled, with participants representing all service lines for an exchange between the United States/Canada and Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Columbia, Israel, and Mexico.
- The International Intern Leadership Conference. In 2012, Ernst & Young hosted its sixteenth annual International Intern Leadership Conference, with 2,300 interns participating in classroom learning and team-building experiential activities. In 2011, interns from more than twenty-nine countries participated in the event.
Ernst & Young also offers GlobeSmart, a global cultural awareness web tool designed to provide information to employees on how to do business effectively in different countries, and Milestone Events, which provide people recently promoted to select ranks the opportunity to network and build their new skills through face-to-face events following a global format.
All programs emphasize the importance of the three key factors inherent in the Ernst & Young and You (EYU) career development framework: learning, experiences, and coaching.
It's a philosophy, Altobello said, that's critical to attracting and retaining the high-achieving, self-driven employees Ernst & Young seeks to hire.
"When people join our firm they talk about how important flexibility is to them, but they don't mean flexibility in terms of hours. They mean flexibility in terms of how they'll be able to develop their career over the long term; how they'll be challenged and encouraged to learn", Altobello said. "When we offer them global mobility we give them those opportunities, and when that happens, it builds a sense of loyalty and empowerment in our employees."