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Public & Regulatory Affairs

Understanding the expectations of stakeholders and incorporating them into our work

Thanks to approximately 5300 colleagues in the Netherlands, our contact with clients, and our partnerships, PwC is in close touch with society. We continuously ask ourselves how we can help to improve societal trust and ensure sustainable progress. To be able to keep answering this question in a world that is changing faster than ever before, we also actively converse with our societal stakeholders. This allows us to better understand their expectations and to incorporate them into our work.

The views of our stakeholders help us to become a better organisation and to offer relevant services as auditors, tax advisers and consultants.

Understanding the expectations of stakeholders: PwC stakeholder dialogue

1v1 discussions

During the course of the year, we hold so-called stakeholder meetings with our clients and colleagues, as well as with politicians, supervisory board members, civil servants, NGO’s, opinion makers and scientists. During financial year 2020/2021, 48 of such 1v1 discussions were organised. 

Each stakeholder meeting is conducted by a member of the board of management, often assisted by a member of the supervisory board, a young colleague or a content specialist. A report is compiled for each meeting. This report is then used as input when identifying the common theme and the most important messages of the stakeholder dialogue for different groups of stakeholders.

Number of formalised stakeholder discussions per stakeholder group, per financial year




Civil servants



Colleagues (groups)

2 2

Supervisory board members






Umbrella organisations



NGO’s and social partners



Opinion makers












Total number of meetings:



Materiality analysis

To better understand the themes where we can make a difference for our colleagues, clients and society, we ask our stakeholders which themes they think are important (material) to PwC and to what extent. These themes are part of our materiality matrix:

Materiality matrix

1. Quality, 2. Knowledge development and sharing, 3. Integrity, 4. Acting values driven, 5. Digital, 6. Fraud, 7. Impact on clients, 8. (Data) security and privacy, 9. Impact on society, 10. Independence, 11. Transparency, 12. Sustainability, 13. Diversity and Inclusion, 14. Wellbeing, 15. Recruiting, developing and retaining PwC employees, 16. Financial results.

Every other year, we conduct a large-scale study among stakeholders to identify material themes and determine how important they think these themes are for PwC. The more important a theme is deemed by stakeholders, the higher it is located on the y axis. The board of management then states how much ecological, societal and/or economic impact PwC expects to make in each specific theme. This varies from little impact (on the left of the x axis) to a lot of impact (on the right of the x axis). We follow the guidelines of GRI (Global Reporting Initiative) when doing so. We also set goals for most material themes. We use an integrated dashboard to monitor our progress in each of these themes every quarter, and make adjustments wherever necessary.

Working visits

Besides 1v1 discussions, PwC board members also make working visits to other organisations (for example, companies or social organisations).This allows us to learn from one another about social themes that affect both organisations, like taking part in the public debate, ‘net zero’ and organisation culture. As a result, we can further incorporate the views of the outside world.

Focus group research

Finally, we would also like to know how people who are barely familiar with us – so-called indirect stakeholders – regard the social role of companies in general, and PwC in particular. That is why we perform our focus group research.

Annual cycle

Output from the stakeholder dialogue is one of the sources we use for our internal dialogue about the long-term strategy of our organisation, our way of communicating, and the choices we make when defining business operations or fine-tuning our services. We then inform discussion partners from last year about specific changes or actions (and the public via our annual report), which helps to complete the whole cycle. We repeat this cycle every year because public expectations are subject to change.

Key messages PwC stakeholder dialogue 2020/2021

Guide clients towards sustainable progress

Stakeholders expect us to inform clients on what sustainable progress means for their specific business and inspire and engage them to start or speed up their transition. We can make the biggest impact on sustainable progress through our service delivery. Stakeholders expect advisors to further integrate ESG (‘environmental, social & governance’) considerations into their advice. They expect tax advisors to engage clients further on long-term sustainable and transparent tax strategies. Finally, stakeholders expect auditors to start looking at non-financial information (NFI). Regarding the latter, some clients and sustainability experts advise us to start small until a worldwide standard has been set, by looking into non-financial elements and discussing these with the audited entity without yet providing additional assurance. In contract, investors encountered during the stakeholder dialogue request assurance on non-financial information as soon as possible. They want auditors to be the ones to provide that assurance.

Share knowledge and bring the public and private sectors closer together

Stakeholders expect us to share our knowledge and expertise, for example by publishing the latest trends and best practices within a specific industry. Stakeholders see that PwC understands and works closely with both the public and private sectors and are asking us to bring them closer together. One way of doing so is through sharing insights and examining the impact of policy changes on businesses. Stakeholders appreciate that non-financial information (NFI) of companies is gaining strategic importance. However, it is difficult to compare data as there is no universal standard yet. That is why stakeholders believe it is essential to harmonise relevant NFI initiatives by sharing knowledge, thus accelerating the process for developing a universal standard.

Contribute more often to public debate

Stakeholders compliment us on our publications and expertise on socially relevant themes such as sustainability and inclusion. To further increase our social relevance, they ask us to more often share our own views in public debate, for example on what the future tax system should look like or what the audit profession should entail. Stakeholders don’t need us to have a perfect track record or have all the answers before engaging in public debate. What matters to them is open communication about how we reach decisions and deal with dilemmas, for example with regard to our service offerings, client portfolio, and confidentiality requirements.

Incorporating the expectations of stakeholders into our work

Helping to sustainably improve audit quality

The audit profession is always on the move. This can, for example, be attributed to changing laws and regulations, as well as changing public expectations in fields such as sustainability, fraud and continuity. PwC wants to help sustainably improve audit quality. We thus examine how things can be improved or done differently, and talk about this with our stakeholders.

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Contributing to a sustainable tax system

Everyone has to deal with taxes. Rules tend to change regularly, and the tax system can be perceived as complicated. PwC wants to help improve the system and make it comprehensible, by sharing knowledge about existing laws and regulations, and by sharing ideas about what can be changed or done differently.

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Contributing to a sustainable society

A sustainable future can only be realised with a healthy planet and a society based on socio-economic cohesion. This sustainable future will offer appropriate and meaningful employment for all, together with equal opportunities in an inclusive society. PwC wants to contribute to this sustainable society by offering our services, sharing knowledge and making ourselves heard in public debates.

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In dialogue about sustainable progress

Dialogue allows us to understand how stakeholders feel about sustainable progress and what role they foresee for organisations like PwC. Besides 1v1 discussions as part of our stakeholder dialogue, we do this in many different ways.

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Contact us

Hayte de Jong

Hayte de Jong

Senior manager public & regulatory affairs, PwC Netherlands

Tel: +31 (0)61 207 40 01

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