Harnessing diversity is more a journey than a destination, according to PwC Singapore Diversity Leader, Karen Loon FCA.

In brief

  • PwC Singapore Diversity Leader Karen Loon believes that diversity is critical to business success.
  • Creating the best ideas means leveraging the different skills and experiences in the workplace.
  • Diversity is a drawcard for millennials who want a workplace where they can be themselves.

As a third generation Chinese Australian, now living in Singapore, Karen Loon FCA says that diversity is an issue close to her heart.

“Being Australian Chinese, I’m very passionate about supporting the next generation of people with different backgrounds. I want to be a role model to help and support the younger people coming through.”

Karen has worked for PwC for almost 30 years, transferring from Australia to Singapore in 1994. She now leads the provision of assurance services to local and multi-national banks in Singapore for the firm.

She also spends around 20 per cent of her time working as PwC Singapore’s Territory Diversity Leader developing and implementing strategies to raise awareness of diversity and inclusion in the organisation.

“Until recently, the diversity conversation was only about gender, but there’s been a broadening and change in the level of the discussion,” says Karen.

“We’re not just talking about having diversity of skills, ability, gender and ethnicity, but about how you get people to work better together.”

Karen Loon FCA, PwC Singapore Territory Diversity Leader

“Now we’re not just talking about having diversity of skills, ability, gender and ethnicity, but about how you get people to work better together.”

“In Singapore, we have a lot of natural diversity with a large mix of people with ethnic backgrounds, as well as a large international population, all with a broad range of skillsets.”

“This means that there is a high natural awareness and appreciation of difference. So a key focus is continuing to educate people about stereotypes, and breaking down these barriers in a friendly way. This can simply be getting people who wouldn’t normally spend time together to meet over lunch, which is a very important meal in Singapore!”

Karen believes passionately that embracing difference and diversity is critical to the success of a business.

“It’s important to our clients. They expect us to brief the best ideas to them, and that requires us to leverage all our people and what everyone brings to work. It’s also important from a talent perspective as 85 per cent of millennials want to work somewhere that promotes diversity that allows them to be themselves.”

She says that while the work isn’t always easy, it has it’s own rewards.

“You’re not going to change things overnight. But when people start to comment back to you about having an environment where they can be themselves, and can contribute in a way that leverages what they bring to the table, it’s very powerful and very fulfilling.”


First published by Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand on 30 November 2017.