As I have said before, in particular with regard to the layoffs at PwC in February that have continued since, the Big 4 do not like to talk about cuts. They have a habit of reducing staff surgically, in a thousand little cuts, across practices, geographies, offices, so that each person thinks they are unique. Those cut are often made to feel inferior and a failure, as most often the cuts are characterized as performance related and a result of forced ranking techniques. I also see the survivor rationalization too – when survivors dis’ those cut by saying they just “couldn’t make it in the Big 4” or they were “dead wood.” Helps cut down on ongoing morale problems when the remaining staff feel more secure, safe, because they think they are superior.
Ms. Harrington made it clear on the phone, and in her statement, that the vast majority of cuts were based on the negative economic reality the firm is facing. What’s frustrating to professionals, both those cut and those left behind, is why the firms are not better at planning and forecasting.