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Foreword

Keeping our business on track

Finding new ways to connect and collaborate

The past year was one again majorly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The biggest impact of which for PwC Belgium has been on our people. I’m immensely proud and grateful to them for everything we’ve been able to accomplish. It’s thanks to their resilience and ability to adapt quickly to working in new ways, finding new ways to connect and collaborate with each other and with clients that our business has remained on track. You’ll find an overview of our performance in FY21 in the Performance chapter of this year’s report.

Work@PwC Reimagined

We’ve worked hard as a firm to support our people during these challenging times. More than ever before, we’ve truly listened to their needs and sought to find solutions to their concerns. Something that we’ll not only continue, but ramp up going forward. People are, afterall, the heart of our business.

One of those solutions is our Work@PwC Reimagined programme that we’re in the midst of implementing. The programme is the result of in-depth pulse surveys of our people on how they’d like to work in the future to enable a good work/life balance. Our aim is to empower our people to organise their work in a way that best suits their needs, within legal boundaries, and allows them wide-ranging learning opportunities and a fulfilling career, while continuing to serve clients with the high-quality services they expect from PwC. Work@PwC Reimagined is all about trust. It gives people greater ownership of their professional lives, with full accountability for output and the ability to choose when and where they work. To make home working as comfortable as possible, we’ve given everyone a budget to spend on ergonomic office equipment. 

Setting the tone from the top

Increasingly, we’re making sure we’re setting the tone from the top. Our leadership team’s not just saying what we’d like to see in terms of behaviour, but acting in the ways we expect our colleagues at all levels to behave. Especially in terms of respecting others’ working patterns and encouraging people to disconnect, take time to relax and pursue activities outside work, which is essential to protect people’s mental health.

Staying mentally and physically fit

We’re continuing our Fit for You wellbeing programme that’s been in place for a number of years. It encourages everyone to lead fitter and healthier lives. The programme offers advice and information, as well as setting challenges for people to take part in and compete against one another, helping them boost their fitness levels in a fun way. Even when - due to the pandemic -people can’t physically meet each other, being part of the same team via the Fit for You platform provides a much-needed connection. Our new Energy@ PwC initiative is all about helping people boost their energy levels, something we’ve seen severely impacted by the pandemic. The pilot project, currently underway, involves 50 people learning about how to boost their energy and enjoy greater vitality. It’ll be rolled out firmwide if we see significant positive results. Our most recent Fit for You challenge was to raise money for the victims of the flooding we saw in parts of Belgium during the summer. It’s just one of the actions we put in place to support those whose lives and businesses have been impacted. And it’s just one of the ways in which we seek to give back the community. 

Boosting our positive impact 

As for many firms, environmental, social and governance (ESG) topics have gained increased focus within PwC Belgium. Both in terms of supporting clients in creating the sustained outcomes that’ll help them build trust with their stakeholders and for our own firm. We’re actively seeking to limit the negative impact we have on the world around us and boost our positive influence where we can. Our new premises in Antwerp and Brussels are both climate neutral and we rely on green energy in other locations. We’ve recently introduced 540 new BMW Plug-in Hybrid cars to our fleet, making it the largest fleet of plug-in hybrid company cars in the BMW universe. The move forms part of our commitment to making our fleet more environmentally friendly, as it makes up the majority of our total emissions. It also forms a strategic part of PwC’s sustainable mobility strategy and our aim to realise net zero ambitions by 2030. And it comes as a response to our people’s expressed desire for us to help them limit their personal environmental footprint. Our new buildings were also designed with their input and expectation in mind.

Designing and developing truly tech-enabled solutions

Our move to the cloud for all PwC Belgium data with a service provider that’s committed to powering 70 percent of its data centers with 100 percent renewable energy by 2023 not only enables us to reduce our own carbon footprint, but offers us the agility to design and develop truly tech-enabled solutions. Over the past years, we’ve made substantial progress in terms of the digital evolution of our firm. Everyday, I’m impressed by the enthusiasm and dedication of our people to equip themselves with the skills they’ll need in a more digital world. We’ve made their growth a priority and invested heavily in making training on digital topics accessible to everyone. We’ve also boosted our internal initiatives to foster more citizen-led innovation and to make sure we capture all potential ideas across the firm. Of which there are many. Indeed, a large number of concepts have already been developed into usable, value-adding digital products and services and many more are in the pipeline. By digitally upskilling our people and calling on the most innovative technologies, we’re assuring our relevance as a professional services firm and a trusted partner to clients.

Building strong client partnerships

Over the past year, we maintained our focus on client proximity and continued to advance the ways in which we support clients and help them move forward with the transformation they’re looking to achieve for their businesses, be that digital, organisational, operational, cultural, etc. Rather than transactional working relationships, we strive to build strong partnerships.  That means understanding the client’s strategic agenda, thinking with them and working together to co-develop this agenda. As we succeed, it becomes more natural that clients turn to us to help them build trust, demonstrate their impact and prepare their business for the future.

Enhancing our collective ESG IQ

A new ESG Academy represents a platform via which we’re upskilling our entire population on ESG topics to make sure we enhance our collective ESG IQ. We can then make sure we’re integrating ESG into existing offerings and create new cross-competency services to support clients and communities. With ESG topics, our Partners are again striving to act as role models, with many having made commitments within our Count Us In initiative, including to “cut food waste”, “drive electric” and “use less plastic”. We encourage our people to follow suit and make similar changes themselves.

Demonstrating our progress

These are just some of the ways we’re seeking to play a more active role in the world and making sure we can be held accountable for our impact. To articulate the role we play is one of the main reasons we’ve opted to move to an integrated reporting methodology for this year’s Annual Report. It enables us to demonstrate the progress we’re making and to express our ambitions in a more measurable and meaningful way.

Rallying around a common ambition

It’s also the thinking behind The New Equation, PwC’s refreshed global strategy, which in Belgium we’re using as the basis to address the major challenges facing our country. We believe that we’re currently at an inflection point. That there’s a real opportunity today to bring Belgians together to rally around a common ambition for a more inclusive and sustainable future, with attention to a better balance between prosperity and wellbeing. Change on such a massive scale requires every part of society - governments, institutions, business and citizens - to reimagine the possible. We fully intend to play our part and work with our country’s most influential changemakers to turn the tide and ensure Belgium and its people thrive.

As there are no off-the-shelf answers for the challenges the country faces, we’ve launched an extensive stakeholder consultation operation to gauge what are the challenges and opportunities in Belgium. Based on this research, we’ll seek to be part of the co-creation of a new vision for Belgium. We want to contribute our knowledge, to think about paths and sustainable solutions to help prepare Belgium for the next decade and secure its relevance. Our overall goal is to mobilise different stakeholders to drive this change, by building bridges. I look forward to sharing news of this great initiative as we move forward.

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Contact us

Axel Smits

Axel Smits

Chairman & Territory Senior Partner, PwC Belgium

Tel: +32 490 65 88 94

Connect with PwC Belgium