September 28, 2020

An Open Letter to EY Management

Ed note: An EY employee who wished to remain anonymous asked us to post this letter to EY management regarding the recent layoffs at the firm because “management tends to ignore our questions when we raise them internally.”

Here is the letter:

Integrity and honesty are the foundations of public accounting. With great trust, the public and the Securities and Exchange Commission rely upon the information provided by accounting firms. An accounting firm thus holds substantial responsibilities and obligations to society. Among hundreds of accounting firms, Ernst & Young is one of the biggest four.

But at this one of the hardest moments of our history, EY is not being honest to its employees. EY falsely framed all the separations that have happened during these two weeks as performance-based separations. This statement is not honest. A lot of the employees who are currently on “performance improvement programs” (PIP) have not been let go. A lot of the people who had good written feedback were fired without prior notice. Those unfortunate people will then bear the name of “underperformers” when they leave the firm. At this hardest moment, EY is sadly manipulating the public’s perception of its secretive layoff.

We are angry. We are angry because EY lied to its employees. If we take the following statement as true: “If an employee has serious performance issues, such employee is on a PIP,” then the statement that “if an employee is not on a PIP, such employee does not have serious performance issues” must be also true. Then, we are asking this question now: Why are the low performers on PIPs still with the firm while those employees with good reviews were let go? We need an answer.

If you cannot accept that an accounting firm can announce to the public that you are let go because your performance was significantly below your peers all of a sudden; if you cannot accept that EY is not cutting off the low performers on PIPs first; you should demand an explanation from EY because you could be the next victim.

We can never be satisfied as long as any one of these employees is the victim of EY’s dishonesty!

Related article:

Layoff Watch ’20: Apparently It’s Doomsday for Some at EY

Have something to add to this story? Give us a shout by email, Twitter, or text/call the tipline at 202-505-8885. As always, all tips are anonymous.

46 Comments

  1. Ctrl + F – replace E&Y with any of the Big 4. From personal experience in 2017 PwC’ SoCal PCS (audit) fired 17 staff without prior notice. This included first year associates as well as new managers.

    1. Unfortunately, not every where EY is awesome. Having worked I. Different offices including in Canada , the firm here has been doing poor. Prime reason being, they have incompetent leaders who cannot even prepare a near good business plan for themselves, forget clients. They have nurtured yes bosses and fired those who question status quo. I’d not regret not being there anymore !

      1. I was laid off suddenly without notice, without a rebuttal, without a reason on November 15, 2008. I never forget bec6I worked there for 11 years and they kept lower performers in the Finance dept. I was called into an office on Wednesday and told I was being let.go and the decision was made and nothing I would say can change it. That day they let go of several people in different locations with the same reason, NONE!!!

  2. Why as a major company would you layoff employees that weren’t on PIP and keep the poor proformers. I used to work for a major 500 company in their accounting firm for 47 years. I have seen where they layoff and the higher pay that have paid the price working their way up. Some of the employees had worked due diligence on major buys, and weeks away from home and years of service only to be let go for cheaper pay. I had always heard your company was family oriented but if you layoffs or not done fairly then that can’t be true.

    1. > Why as a major company would you layoff
      > employees that weren’t on PIP and keep the poor [sic] proformers

      You don’t.

      But that has been a recurring theme in these nonsensical EY articles for several weeks now.

      1. On what basis do you claim these articles are nonsensical? Maybe you are one of the Managers or even higher in the EY hierarchy and see only one side of the coin? I have been working at EY for only over a year (I will not write in which country even) and I can already see the huge irregularities here.
        On our unity they also laid off a few good employees for virtually no reason. Instead, they left people (at least five) absolutely incompetent, without basic knowledge and skills. Not only that, these people do not even intend or wish to develop in any way, which they show without scruples. And they don’t have to and they will be doing like that always. Do you know why? Because all these people are good friends of the director of our department. And they will benefit from her protection to the end. She is also a terrible expert in the industry in which she holds such a high position – she knows nothing about it while she has been working for about 20 years !!! And the more everybody knows that. But who cares? Only really good workers but they can’t do anything because of all this relations in EY.
        How is it possible in such a “good” company? !!!!!!
        I add something more – EY should be punished by goverments wherever such situations as described in this article have happened. But they got away with many scandals with the audit and they will probably get away with the current one.
        So is there any penalty for such a company? Probably not and they know about it so they will continue this all. And all we can say is that it is disgusting!

        1. If its a SHE then all courtesy Diversity promotion existence bonus all due to Compliance of Gender ratio.

        2. >> On what basis do you claim these articles are nonsensical? Maybe you are one of the Managers or even higher in the EY hierarchy and see only one side of the coin? I have been working at EY for only over a year (I will not write in which country even) and I can already see the huge irregularities here >>

          I have worked for EY for more than 5 years and this is a recurring pattern in EY, even in Asia. EY used to be a much better place, a family-oriented company, but it has turned into a place where favouritism has become the most important weapon to surviving in the firm. The better performers are counselled out; whereas people on PIP (performance improvement program) keeps their job if they are friends with the partners, or lovers of the partners or of the same skin colour with certain S. Asian partners.

          The team left is then non-competent, making lots of mistakes during client engagement and then the blame game would start, pointing to the person least protected by the least powerful partner.

        3. > Maybe you are one of the Managers

          Nope… but it sure looks like the EY 4s and 5s are here now to defend their poor performance. LOL

          > they also laid off a few good
          > employees for virtually no reason

          Which is completely acceptable in a right to work system. If you have a problem with that, suggest you unionize.

          > Instead, they left people (at least five) absolutely
          > incompetent, without basic knowledge and skills

          There is so much wrong with this statement:

          1. What kind of culture exists at this firm where everyone else knows everyone else’s performance/feedback. That information is supposed to be confidential. Not fodder for gossips such as yourself.

          2. Companies do not make money by keeping their poor performers in favor of pushing their skilled people out.

      2. I would guess it comes down to money. They can pay the people they keep on PIP less than the people they have decided to cut. Also saving money on projected future raises. Stupid plan, but probably makes sense to a short sighted money focused management.

    2. Your “proformance” probably wasn’t as good as you thought.

      Sorry it came as a shock to you.

      1. I don’t think we should be bullying and laughing at those who lost their jobs, especially during this period. This definitely has nothing to do with performance. When people are terminated, the only reason that HR can give is “performance issues” shifting the blame to the terminated people themselves, to avoid attracting potential legal issues.

        The real reason why they were terminated is most likely due to the losses and economic downturn as a result of the pandemic.

  3. Well, EY does it “nicely”. That’s what EY claims it is strong at. Not necessarily honestly. Trying to have that expectation of honesty will only create frustrations. Accept it, please.

    1. Are you on the Wirecard account? You trust a firm that is not honest to provide/audit those financial numbers?

  4. I was with EY for almost 30 years and layoffs were always part of the business. Underperforming business lines or change of strategy were the main reasons for layoffs. Whether you were a PIP or a decent performer, the only ones that may have been kept on were the super performers. I was in the National Office that tracked all these changes. It’s not personal, it’s business.

    1. As one of the people laid off, I do not think many people are taking it personally. It is a business and times are tough and if there is not enough work for everyone than people have to be cut, totally understand that. But the way it is being framed is frankly bullshit. Telling people who have never once been told they were underperforming and frankly had good reviews and feedback that they are being fired the same day you tell them they are severely underperforming is just a transparent way of going about this, and it really is a disservice to people who spent a lot of their time working extremely hard for the firm. Just be honest is all anyone is asking for.

  5. Does EY not have the right to let go of anyone at any time for any reason? They owe you an explanation? Who are you exactly?

    1. They have every right to as it is at-will employment. That does not mean that they should be let off the hook for not having the simple decency of being honest with the people let go. A lot of the people in this situation have spent multiple years working long hours for the firm and have performed up to expectation. You are right, the firm can rid of whoever they want, whenever they want. But in my opinion, they still owe people an honest and straightforward explanation of why it is happening.

    2. In most right to work states they actually don’t have to have a reason.
      EY advisory/consulting will continue to be a plodding mess as long as the People team is led by folks who don’t client face or understand how the BD or delivery processes work. The issues don’t fall far from there

    1. PwC totally does this too and seems to target the few remaining individuals on their 50s who have somehow survived 20 to 30 years in the firm only to be lied to and fired. Disgusting…zero loyalty to those who sacrificed and killed themselves for the firm over the years.

  6. Welcome to public accounting. They always lay off existing staff to make room for newer, less expensive recent college graduates. Didn’t they tell you about this at your university? In the 1980s they were quite upfront about it – at new firm orientation they told us 1 out of 10 of you will become partners, the other 9 will be gone.

  7. EY has been laying off all year, especially employees over 35. It’s an international firm. Once they got word of coronavirus, they brought out the chainsaw.

  8. The same is the case with Deloitte, employees with appreciation mails from superiors were fired citing performance issues.

  9. This is an old trick. It happened to me. My client showered praises on my work and my manager said, I give you 3 rating if you leave now or will give you 2 if you want to stay. Also it was also clearly told to me that I am not fit for the consulting industry. It happened in 2008 and none of the partners even received my call then.

  10. EY again, what the hell is going on. I happen to work closely with an EY partner by then I was a junior staff. What I went through was hell that I would not imagine of. However no matter how long you stay, you acquire a lifetime experience

  11. After reading the article/email, I can personally relate to the pains of the employees who would have been dishonesty and falsely laid off from EY.

    I have had the same experience while I was working for Credit Union Australia(CUA). I was made redundant on poor performance grounds even though I wasn’t under any PIP and was receiving excellent feedback from my C level stakeholders. The actual reason which I got to know later was that there was a organisational change at the C level with a new CEO being hired wanted to show profits, cut costs and what best way to do so was fire hard working top performing employees. I had to work hard to get the actual truth behind the lay-offs else we would have been under the impression that i was made redundant for performance reasons.

    I hope justice is served to all those impacted and they get all the answers that they are looking for. This is becoming a trend and what we all need is to fight for our rights and not allow any dishonest management to lead any organisation. Its time for #bigchange

  12. I was let go from Deloitte US Consulting after 7 years with the firm. The reason cited was “unprecedented times due to COVID-19” and not performance.
    There are very few new projects and a lot of the on-going ones went on hold. The writing was on the wall.

  13. These kind of politics are not only wid u r company. I m working in one of the world’s largest bank. Inorder to get promotion either one needs to fuck or get themselves fucked. precedent CEO left after working for 18 months. Just imagine how sluttish my company become

  14. When I taught accounting at Texas, it was no secret that the Big 8, then Big 4 routinely burned out the new staff with excessive overtime demands and out of town assignments. Candidates were told that few would become partners and achieve job security. Yet many flocked to the interviews and took the job offers. The fact that EY would lie about the performance of its professional staff comes as no surprise whatsoever. It’s literally a “come to Jesus” moment. Without commitment to divine principles, the firm will fail. Already it is crumbling. Those forced out should thank God that they’re out and settle down at a local CPA firm where they are much more likely to be appreciated and respected.

  15. The problem isn’t the layoffs, the problem is transparency. EY is telling people it is only doing “performance-based separations,” which is complete B.S. Just be honest and admit you are bleeding money due to Covid.

    1. The problem is that they’re aren’t bleeding money due to COVID and yet continue to lie to their staff. I thought Kelly Grier was different, but she is not. Just the same old sly snakes as what we had in the past. Such a big disappointment! Out of here inc

  16. A key premise in the article is entirely incorrect: not all those with performance issues are on a PIP. Any senior person who has worked at EY knows this, and I know from my extended of experience at PwC before joining EY that the same is true at that firm. Performance feedback is based primarily on regular feedback – at least quarterly, though the firm encourages it be more of an ongoing dialog rather than a quarterly event. PIPs are done at the discretion of the managers involved, based on the facts and circumstances.

  17. I would guess it comes down to money. They can pay the people they keep on PIP less than the people they have decided to cut. Also saving money on projected future raises. Stupid plan, but probably makes sense to a short sighted money focused management.

  18. Why don’t public accountants unionize? i’ve always felt it was ripe for the opportunity. The pay at the bottom is crap, and nearly everyone senior or lower is pretty dissatisfied with the system

  19. PwC did the same thing in 2008 and it did not turn out well for them. As soon as the recession people left in droves. I was one of those people. I was a senior manager and felt responsible for my people and we were not even included in the decision making process of who was let go. I actually was once of the first to leave and then the mass exodus happened.

Comments are closed.

Related articles