How Well Does PwC Actually Follow Their Code of Conduct

As I was reading through the list of companies on the Fortune list of best companies to work for, there is one in particular. The one that jumped out to me was PricewaterhouseCoopers. I have had many friends intern there and a few that either work there or have gotten a job offer from them. I’ve never really asked
my friends too much about what PwC does, so I decided to do some research into it for this blog post. My only background knowledge on PwC was that it is an accounting firm. I imagine that it would be a good place to work for, because I know a fair amount of college graduates work there. According to the Fortune article, PwC offers fully paid sabbaticals, onsite fitness centers, subsidizes offsite gym memberships, offers job sharing, and compressed work weeks. PwC offers workers a ton of flexibility from their start with the firm, allowing workers to chart out their own future, as well as providing workers training to help further their careers. Eighty-eight percent of workers describe the firm as a friendly place to work and that they believe workers will do extra to make sure the job gets done. PwC is flexible with employees’ schedules, as evident by the fact that eighty-four percent of workers said that they could take time off when they need to. Also, ninety percent of employees believe that their managers are honest and ethical.

PwC has a code of conduct that all employees must follow. The PwC website states, “This code is based on our values and it takes them to the next level—demonstrating our values in action.” PwC’s three core values are excellence, teamwork, and leadership. The code of conduct is broken up into eight different sections: Our Values, Upholding the PwC name, Behaving professionally, Respecting others, corporate responsibility, Our responsibilities, Framework for ethical decision making, and Summary of ethics questions to consider. However, even with this code of conduct PwC is not immune to controversy. In 2014 PwC was fined $25 million for helping a Japanese bank launder money for terrorist states like Iran, Sudan, and Myanmar. According to a Bloomberg article from 2000, there was an investigation into how PwC did their business and the investigation found out that PwC was guilty of 8,064 violations. The biggest violation was that PwC partners owned stock on firms that PwC audits, which is illegal. Over half of the PwC partners were guilty of this violation. Another controversy arose in 2014 when Tesco, a company that PwC had audited since 1983, admitted to overstating profits.

Even with the PwC code of conduct, that doesn’t mean that PwC workers are immune from committing unethical business acts. It even states that in the code of conduct can’t address every situation and that the code is the, “Code is not a substitute for our responsibility and accountability to exercise good judgment and obtain guidance on proper business conduct.” This to me sounds like a little like PwC is trying to say that their code of conduct are more like guidelines, as opposed to actual rules. Despite PwC’s reputation as one of the top four accounting firms in the world and their detailed code of conduct, employees don’t always act in an ethical manner, as shown by some of their past business scandals.


8 thoughts on “How Well Does PwC Actually Follow Their Code of Conduct”

  1. I find it unfortunate that in todays business world, I find it almost impossible to read a company’s mission statement and expect the company as a whole to act totally in compliance with their code of conduct. This just goes to show that even the “most ethical” companies in the world are still not completely innocent.


    1. I’m not surprised that companies in general don’t always follow the code of conduct, but I am surprised that this particular firm does. PwC is an accounting firm, an industry that is known for its ‘by the books’ attitude because of the scrutiny it receives. Maybe being the controller of the books makes it easier to get around the rules


      1. A friend posted this on Facebook and I think its relevant here:

        “You’ve heard of the golden rule, right? Whoever has the gold makes the rules!”



  2. Interesting post. I am an ACFM major and was unaware of some of these allegations against PwC. Most major companies have standards, a mission, and a code of conduct that they push, and expect, their employees to abide by. However, without fail, there is always certain people that choose not to adhere to something, or bend the rules, and this often bruises the reputation of the company as a whole.


    1. Given how many Bucknell students work for PwC at some point in their careers, and that PwC is one of the top accounting firms in the world I’m surprised that I’d never heard of any of these allegations. I agree with you that there are always certain people that choose to ignore the rules, but I’m surprised at how many PwC had, and the magnitude of the rules that those employees broke


  3. I’m surprised PWC didn’t stick out to me on that list, as it is so popular amongst Bucknell students. In fact, on the Bucknell University Linkedin page, PwC employs the highest amount of members of Bucknell alumni. I think its interesting how students in general, myself included, put a large emphasis on the brand name of a large corporation, and decline to look further into an organization. So many Bucknell students place PwC at the top of their prospective jobs list, as PwC is a tremendous company. Yet I wonder how many of them are aware of ethical conduct issues you broached. PwC is a great example of the continuing themes from our Mike Daisey unit- seeking your own truth. Your post continues that theme for me, and will definitely push me to be more investigative in analyzing businesses.


  4. Interesting that you said that “eighty-eight percent of workers describe the firm as a friendly place to work and that they believe workers will do extra to make sure the job gets done,” and that “PwC offers workers a ton of flexibility from their start with the firm.” I believe that the cut-through environment is what makes workers do whatever it takes to get the job done, not because they have a strong desire to. All of these statements are particularly interesting considering the fact that PwC has a very high turn over rate after two years. Recent college grads tend to get the two years in public accounting over and then leave because they hate the environment so much. I ultimately decided to go with another firm over PwC because I did not find them welcoming or friendly at all.


    1. That’s really interesting given that you’ve actually interacted with PwC and have a totally different opinion on what the office environment is like. I had heard too that a large amount of workers leave after a few years there to pursue other opportunities. I wonder if the workers surveyed for this data are the ones that decided to stay after two years


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s