by Meridith Levinson

Work Life Balance: PWC Gets It Right

Nov 14, 20085 mins

PricewaterhouseCoopers has implemented a variety of innovative HR policies and programs to support working parents and to help its employees, especially working moms, achieve work-life balance. 


Lillian Borsa has worked for PricewaterhouseCoopers for 16 years. In the past year, she’s noticed a dramatic change in the composition of the staff in her practice, the New York Metro Systems and Process Assurance (SPA) group: There are more women and more mothers working at all levels than ever in her practice, which is focused on  risks, controls and the operating effectiveness of financial processes and information systems. 

Out of the roughly 100 women in the approximately 250-person SPA practice, about 25 are moms—and not just to one child but to multiple children, she says. Lillian, who’s 40 and one of SPA’s partners, is also a mother of two boys, ages 5 and 7.

When Lillian first started working for PwC 16 years ago, she says there was a 50/50 split between men and women at the associate level, but the ratio of women to men dropped off at higher levels inside the firm. Today, there are increasing numbers of women at all levels inside the company, as evidenced in Lillian’s practice. Approximately half of PwC’s U.S. workforce is female, and 17 percent of the firm’s partners are women. Compare that, for what it’s worth, with the paltry number of women who are CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, according to Catalyst: 12.   

The career progress that women in Lillian’s office—and across PwC—experience contrasts starkly with what most women in IT experience. Research published last month from the Anita Borg Institute shows that female technology professionals are making profound personal sacrifices—they’re delaying or giving up marriage and motherhood—to advance their careers. And despite those measures, women are still not rising to executive ranks.

“I have been able to progress in my career and have a family, which was a very important goal,” says Lillian, who was considered for a partnership in the SPA practice when she was on maternity leave with her second son. “Being on maternity leave didn’t hold back my career. Women can maintain their lives and succeed at the firm.” 

Lillian attributes her and her female co-workers’ ability to successfully balance their careers with their personal lives to HR policies PwC has put in place to support working parents and to a firm-wide commitment to diversity. As a result of those measures, Working Mother magazine ranked PwC number 10 on its list of the 100 best companies for working mothers this year. This is the fifth


time PwC has made the top 10 and the 14th time it’s been named to the list.

Here’s a sample of some of the programs PWC has put in place to facilitate work-life balance for its employees, especially working parents.

Full Circle

: If a PwC employee decides to leave the firm to take care of a new baby or sick or ag


ing family member for an extended period of time (up to five years), the Full Circle program encourages them to remain connected to the firm in the event they want to come back to work. They remain connected in a variety of ways: through a special portal available on a website for PWC alumni; through conversations with a PwC employee that the departing employee designates as a coach; and through invitations to PwC holiday parties, networking events and volunteer activities. PwC reimburses Full Circle participants for any work-related training and credentialing they pursue while away from the firm.

Mentor Moms: This program pairs new moms or mothers-to-be with women at the firm who’ve experienced balancing motherhood with their careers. The experienced moms provide guidance and insights to the new moms for a minimum of 20 weeks, from before the baby is due through the new mom’s first several months back at work. (For more on the importance of mentoring, see The Executive Woman’s Guide to Mentoring.) 

Emergency Back-up Childcare: The firm pays for daycare in the event a parent finds him or herself in a child care jam. For example, one day when Lillian was taking care of her kids, she got called into a meeting with the CFO that she had to attend. She was able to drop off her son at a daycare facility so that she could attend the meeting, and PwC reimbursed her for the time she had to put her son in daycare.  

Flexible work arrangements: Lillian says she benefitted from being able to work a compressed work week this past summer, during which time she worked four 10-hour days. Other flexible work arrangements available to high-performing staff include reduced hours, telecommuting, flextime, job sharing and seasonal employment.  

Lillian is of course grateful for these programs.  “I have a lot of loyalty to the firm because they’ve created such a supportive infrastructure, not just for me but for generations coming up behind me.”