Last week PwC went on a publicity campaign about how they are getting 4REAL about checking their “blind spots.” The links to the articles are further below.

Makes any sense to you? 

Didn’t make sense to me either at first glance. Seems like a campaign about driving safety. The blind spots that PwC is “getting real” about are diversity blind spots. They are putting all of their staff through this 4REAL training program. I’m not sure why PwC couldn’t just use DIVERSITY or DIVERSE as an acronym and come up with training using those letters. I don’t know about you, but the acronym REAL would not be a good memory jogger that I need to be sensitive to diversity in the workplace. 

I certainly don’t have the answers…………..Again, I don’t have the answers.

— Tim Ryan, July 22, 2016 LinkedIn Article on Diversity

PwC never lets an opportunity pass to pat themselves on the back or promote an initiative that they think will give them an advantage with recruits or clients.

They also never miss an opportunity to come up with acronyms that are confusing. I wonder where they come up with some of these campaigns they implement and what those brainstorming sessions are like. I think this new 4REAL video series brainstorming session went something like this:

Partner 1 – How do we get these young associates to care about diversity

Partner 2 – Not sure, what do these kids care about nowadays?

Partner 1 – Social media and texting

Partner 2 – Well they use a lot of numbers and acronyms instead of spelling words out when they text.

Partner 1 – Ok, well if we want them to take it serious, then the title should be 4REAL. 

Partner 2 – Yea, that’s great. We are so diverse in our thought process

How did PwC deploy this campaign?

  1. Tim Ryan initially started the “dialogue” on Linkedin in July of 2016  after his big promotion. The best part of the LinkedIn article is that it links to another PwC acronym program — the START diversity intern program. PwC loves their acronyms when it comes to diversity. 
  2. Tim Ryan published a blog on Medium last week
  3. Mike Dillon wrote an article for Huffington Post last week
  4. Tim Ryan was interviewed by New York Business Journal last week

Why I have a problem with this

PwC is an entity built on client relationships. They are not an entity built on being diverse. If they were, they’d build a strong diverse workforce and let the word of mouth spread about the program. Instead before they even implemented this initiative they were already front running it on LinkedIn.

Tim Ryan said it himself in that LinkedIn article. He doesn’t have the answers on diversity. That doesn’t mean he wasn’t going to push his underlings to come up with some acronym and then parade it in front of the media before it was implemented though. 

PwC cares about Diversity 4REAL

This whole training is video learning series and is mandatory training. The name of the video series is the 4REAL training series. What does REAL stand for?





How this acronym will make you more sensitive to diversity? I’m not too sure, and PwC did not provide a good explanation. They just said that action is a big part of it, and they partnered with someone from Harvard. If they partnered with someone from Harvard, you know it’s 4REAL.

I think what they want is people to recognize their blind spots in diversity. Explore those blind spots. Act on them, and then continue to Learn?


Tim Ryan and Mike Dillon (promoted to US Diversity Officer as part of the PwC US leadership changes earlier this year) want to act on and explore diversity. They also want people to take it seriously. 

If I wanted people to take an initiative I put together seriously, I wouldn’t come up with a tagline that only elementary school kids would think is cool. For an issue this serious, I probably wouldn’t come up with a tagline at all. I think it’s insulting that they came up with an acronym with a number in front of it and expect people to take it seriously.

I also don’t get how people in PwC can take this issue seriously when management pats themselves on the back through Medium, Huffington Post, LinkedIn and other blogs before the program is even implemented. 

I think diversity is an important issue. It’s important for people to understand that people have different upbringings and life experiences. All of us bring each of those experiences into our everyday lives. If we don’t try to understand where other people come from, we will maintain those biases. 

PwC Ads are 4REAL in Mike Dillon's Blind Spots Article

PwC Ads are 4REAL in Mike Dillon’s Blind Spots Article

I think training is also good, but what I don’t think it’s good is using tragedies and social issues to recruit talent and improve client relationships. If you think I am being extreme, just go to Huffington Post article and let me know what ads are around the article (I’ve included the image of the article here.)

As you can see not only did PwC leadership pat themselves on the back, they also placed their ads all around the article. Wasn’t that nice of them to promote an article about how good of a job they are doing?

I feel bad for the people that deal with biases on a daily basis. I also feel bad for people that have to sit through some training labeled 4REAL and have to think their leadership had good intentions for real. I also think PwC needs to get 4REAL about their age discrimination issues before they go on a tear about how great they are so great at diversity. 

In conclusion, take diversity 4REAL and educate yourself. Don’t use some byproduct of a publicity stunt to get the job done.