Aanchal Khurana, Senior Account Executive, Brainerd Communicators
In a Tribune article discussing diversity, you talked about your experiences beginning work at PwC and how "no one at the office looked like [you]". Was there a particular moment when you made this realization? How did that realization motivate you to be more involved with diversity and inclusion?
In that conversation, I was referring to the fact that there were other staff members at my level, but there weren’t any leaders in my office that I could look to when I first joined the firm. It was in our Washington Metro offices that I met and had the good fortune to be mentored by Black executives in the firm, and it was a life-changing experience.
That was the moment when I realized I hadn’t seen many people of color or women in high-level positions. From then on, I was able to visualize a new career path and define more ambitious goals for myself. I adopted a mantra that I often share: If you can see it, you can be it.
Many companies spend an incredible amount of time and money on diversity programs and don't see any change. As a leader at PwC, what would you say to those companies? What advice would you give them?
We’ve learned many key lessons: leadership commitment and accountability are key components, leveraging data is fundamental to identifying and tackling the underlying barriers, and most importantly to me, that diversity and inclusion is not something that can be driven in a silo or thought of as a separate piece of the business.
Companies should remember that there will be proud moments of progress coupled with unforeseen challenges, but the end goal – the future success of their business, their people and their communities – is worth it.
As executives, entrepreneurs, innovators and leaders, how can we, as individuals, rise to the occasion every day to make a collective impact? How should we approach the topic of diversity in the workplace?
Because [diversity] is comprised of so many elements, diversity as a value and ongoing commitment is something that belongs in every aspect of an organization’s operations and culture. I believe that’s the first step toward how we as leaders and individuals should approach diversity.
I think the straightforward answer lies in each of us holding ourselves accountable by answering the tough questions and acting on what we find. Are we seeking out diverse hires and giving them opportunities for development? Are we learning as much as we are teaching to the colleagues that we mentor? Are we working to address any unconscious biases that may exist in ourselves?
What is the one piece of advice that you want to give to women and/or people of color who are feeling undervalued, unheard, and/or alienated in professional environments?
Be courageous. Be open. Be honest. Speak with your leadership and express how you are feeling. I believe the more we open up to one another and express what matters to us as individuals, the more we can build trust, be understood and be valued.