16 May 2016

Unleashing the full potential of female wealth creators

By Sandra Dowling

PwC’s most recent internationally-focused study of the millennial generation made one thing clear, when it comes to the female millennial we really are talking about a new era of female talent. These women, currently entering the workforce and moving into management positions are more confident and ambitious than ever before. The ambition of this generation of women is exemplified by the fact that they rank opportunities for career progression as the most attractive attribute in an employer. Nearly half believe they can reach the very top within their organisation, which attests to their confidence.

Power and potential
What particularly struck me about the findings was the earning power and wealth creating potential of this generation as when it comes to earning power and patterns, female millennials are very much trail blazers. Of the female millennials who are in a relationship, 86% are part of a dual career couple, with 42% earning equal salaries to their partner or spouse and almost a quarter (24%) are the primary earner in their relationship. This means that 66% earn as much or more than their partner or spouse. And as millennial women progress in their careers, the more likely they are to out-earn their other halves.

Women should be able to fulfil their potential without being impacted by any blindspots that may exist within the workplace. More than 70% of the women taking part in our millennial research felt that opportunities are not equal for all. Over 40% believed that employers are too male biased when it comes to promotion, a big jump from when we carried out a comparable survey of millennials internationally in 2011. Research on blindspots suggests that leaders still tend to promote people like themselves, and because so many leaders are men, talented and aspiring women may face increased challenges.

Focusing on the outcomes
As a single mother bringing up young twins, one of the key issues for me is flexibility. Half of the women in our survey say that flexibility and work-life balance programmes exist in their organisations, but aren’t readily available to them in practice. Worryingly, more than 40% believe taking advantage of flexibility and work-life balance programmes would actually have negative consequences for their careers. If key talent and wealth creators are lost because of this, it will inevitably damage the business and the economy. Employers need to make flexibility a real part of all staff’s working lives rather than a just a passive policy. The key to this is focusing on outcomes rather than presence in the office: if I want to take time out to go to my children’s sports day, for example, that will enhance rather than detract from my ability to deliver for the firm.

We are working hard at PwC UK to change things and what’s encouraging for me is that diversity and inclusion are seen as business imperatives rather than just nice-to-haves. And to get where we want to be and realise the benefits, we recognise the need to ask difficult questions and challenge assumptions that have persisted for generations. For those that invest in their female talent, the rewards of creating more wealth for the business will flow.

Overcoming the obstacles
Women clearly need to keep pushing against these barriers, but to remove them altogether requires real engagement from male colleagues. One of the ways that we at PwC UK are trying to identify and overcome potential unconscious biases is through our open mind training curriculum. The change programme is designed to help people become mindful of the potential blind spots in their thinking and the impact on their decisions. For example, “Am I making assumptions about people that don’t reflect their real talent and potential?” We back this up by setting and tracking gender and ethnicity targets for our different business units.

I have also been closely involved in our UK shadowing programme, in which students get a taste of what we do and how they can contribute. Firms like ours can appear daunting from the outside, so it’s great to see that more than 90% of the women who take part in this initiative choose to seek a career with us. Additionally, leaders like me can get a taste of what our younger colleagues are facing through our reverse mentoring programme, allowing us to shadow them on a typical day.


Sandra Dowling Sandra Dowling is a partner in PwC UK’s Investment Management practice in London and leads the Real Estate Assurance group in the UK.

A version of this blog post was first published in the Women’s Executive Network (WXN) ‘The Opinion’ magazine, Spring 2016 issue.

03 May 2016

Women in Work – The Nordic countries maintain their position at the top of the index

By Yong Jing Teow and Shivangi Jain

The fourth annual update of the PwC Women in Work Index (WIW) indicates a continued strong performance by the Nordic countries, with Iceland, Norway and Sweden maintaining their positions as the top three performing countries. Our Index combines five key indicators of female economic empowerment: the equality of earnings with men; the proportion of women in work, both in absolute terms and relative to men; the female unemployment rate; and the proportion of women in full-time employment.

Figure 1: PwC’s Women in Work Index

Women in work index

Source: PwC analysis using data from OECD and Eurostat

As Figure 1 shows, other OECD countries have also made significant improvements in their performance: Hungary most notably has achieved the biggest year-on-year improvement jumping from 24th to 19th position due to a significant narrowing of the wage gap, a rise in female labour force participation and a fall in unemployment. UK’s improvement in performance in terms of empowering the female workforce is also noteworthy; it has moved up in the ranks from 21st position out of 33 OECD countries, a position it has held for the past 2 years, to 16th position in 2014. This improvement in the UK’s performance has largely been driven by a narrowing of the gender pay gap and a significant reduction in the female unemployment rate due to the stronger economic growth in recent years.

At the other end of the spectrum, Australia has continued to fall in the ranks from 10th to 17th position in 2013 and to 20th position in 2014, struggling to make any improvements in its performance across the component indicators of the index. Netherlands has also seen a significant fall in its position from 18th to 23rd with a worsening performance across all indicators. Korea, Greece and Mexico remain at the bottom of the index.

While overall gains have been made across the OECD to improve female economic empowerment, it is clear that there is more to be done; our findings indicate that women are still paid $83 for every $100 her male counterpart earns on average across the OECD, while underemployment also remains a pressing issue.

There is much more that businesses and governments can do to fully leverage female talent. The Nordic countries offer some useful policy lessons for the rest of the OECD. Their success has been made possible by a combination of family-friendly policies and cultural changes that acknowledge the right of each individual to work and support themselves, and to balance their career and family life. These include generous parental leave allowances, strong social safety nets, access to affordable childcare, as well as legislative protection against discrimination.

For instance, Sweden and Norway introduced shared parental leave as early as in the 1970s, with the view of increasingly involving fathers in childcare and household work. In Sweden, parents are currently entitled to share 480 days of paid parental leave when a child is born or adopted. Each parent has a “use-it-or-lose-it” entitlement of 2 months paid leave. Swedish parents also get significant support from the state in the form of family benefits for children. This support amounts to 3.1% of GDP compared to 2.2% for the EU on average.

Another factor supporting women returning to work following motherhood is the availability of affordable and quality childcare. In Sweden, public childcare operates on a whole-day basis. Pre-school is free for children between three and six for up to 15 hours a week. Childcare fees are also means-tested, as fees are proportional to parents’ income and inversely proportional to the number of children in the family.

The availability of state support means that the costs of returning to work for mothers are significantly lower. Including state support, childcare-related costs in the Nordic countries account for around 5-10% of household income, compared to almost a third of household income in the UK. As a result, the Nordic countries have one of the highest female labour force participation rates in the OECD, and the smallest gaps in the employment rate between women who have children and those who don’t.

Although these policies come at a cost of higher taxes, female employment has brought about significant economic benefits, as well as made it possible for parents to combine both work and family life. Our findings highlight the huge prize on offer; according to our research, improving female employment across the OECD to match Sweden’s performance could yield a boost to overall OECD GDP of almost US$5 trillion. While progress is being made, there is still a long way to go in creating a truly diverse and equal workplace through addressing the underlying structural factors in the labour market which discourage women from entering and have direct repercussions for business and the performance of the economy as a whole. With such significant opportunities to increase GDP in the world’s leading economies (see Figure 2), government and businesses really do need to work together and develop policies which support more women returning to work and which drive forward the gender agenda.

Figure 2: Estimated increase in GDP from increasing female employment rates to Swedish levels:

Estimated GDP increase WIW

Source: PwC analysis using data from OECD, Eurostat

For details on our analysis and full report, please go to our website: pwc.co.uk/womeninwork

03 April 2016

Moving women with purpose: creating gender inclusive global mobility

Did you know that we are experiencing a time of unprecedented – and as yet unmet – female demand for international mobility? PwC recently released our ground-breaking research report, Modern mobility: Moving women with purpose.

This global report reveals some glaring disconnects in companies’ approaches to female mobility. For example, some 71% of female millennials want to work outside their home country during their career, but only 20% of the current internationally mobile population are women and only 22% of global mobility executives said they are actively trying to increase their levels of female mobility.    Insert animated gif

Is your organisation prepared to respond to this global mobility gender gap?

Join us this Tuesday, 5 April, for our Moving women with purpose webcast where I’ll be joined by Kathy McDermott, Global Mobility Partner & US Tax Diversity Leader and Eileen Mullaney, PwC Global Mobility Consulting Leader.

We’ll be discussing the findings of the report, sharing our personal experiences and talking about what leading edge companies are doing to respond to the challenges it reveals. You’ll also get a chance to hear from some great female role models with successful international assignment experiences.

I hope that you can join us, Tuesday 5 April (07:00 PDT/10:00 EDT/15:00 BST/16:00 CEST) – simply register here



Aoife_Flood070316Based in Dublin, Ireland, Aoife Flood is Senior Manager of the Global Diversity & Inclusion Programme Office for PwC International Limited with responsibility for the development and implementation of our network-wide global Diversity & Inclusion strategy.

She is a proud PwC female millennial and lead researcher and author of our ‘Modern mobility: Moving women with purpose’, ‘The female millennial: A new era of talent’ and 'Next Generation Diversity: Developing tomorrow's female leaders' thought leadership publications.

Aoife is also co-author of our Global Gender Agenda blog. You can learn more about Aoife here.


10 March 2016

PwC Next Generation Survey 2016: The Female Perspective

We’re marking International Women’s Day with a special release of our upcoming survey of the Next Generation of family business leaders focusing on women. We wanted to explore the perspectives of the female leaders-in-waiting who are hoping - many of them – to take over the firm one day. What issues do they face? Do they have the support they need to succeed, and if not, what factors are holding them back?

We’ve all seen the research studies that prove that companies run by women tend to outperform those run by men, and yet the number of businesses with women on their boards (never mind as CEO) is still depressingly low – our latest Women in Work Index shows that only 17% of OECD based companies have female directors, and in the US it’s even lower than that. Within our Next Gen survey group the number is actually significantly better, with 30% of the women we interviewed having a seat on the board. So despite the fact that they’re often seen as rather old-fashioned, family firms could just be ahead of the curve here, in looking to the female line for the talent they need to succeed in a fast-changing world.

But what about the women themselves – what’s their experience? We were surprised to find that, despite all the advances that have been made on equality in the workplace, many are markedly less self-assured than their male peers. These women are bright, ambitious, and prepared to work hard, and yet 45% still believe the next generation of men is more likely to run the business than they are, and only 21% say they will definitely be taking over the management, compared with 31% of men. Confidence is clearly still an issue, but it’s a hard nut to crack.


So what’s the answer? One viewpoint came from our report’s feature case study with Caroline Lubbers, a third generation from the Hotel Theatre Figi, in the Netherlands. A great role model, Caroline comes from a long line of strong women leaders, and a family firm that has encouraged her to take leadership. She states: “That’s why I am so dedicated to helping other women be successful, and why I make time for a women’s leadership circle for family businesses. It’s a chance to exchange experiences and inspire each other. And I put that into practice in my own business, where I mentor two young women who work for me. I’m also helping to set up an international network of women working in the cocoa and chocolate industries. Because empowering women is, and has always been, the best way to achieve real, positive change.”

As for the different ways men and women lead, Caroline believes women should celebrate that difference, not worry about doing things the same way as men: “Women just need to find their own leadership style, and have the confidence to follow that through. One of the things I want to do, personally, is help inspire women to do that, both inside our firm, and outside. Part of it is about accepting that it’s OK for men and women to have different goals and priorities in life. Not better, just different.”

Stephanie Hyde
Gender_Stephanie_HydeLeads PwC’s Global Next Generation Programme, heads the UK Regions and sits on the UK Board. Having graduated from Brunel University with a Mathematics and Management degree, she joined the firm in 1995 and became a partner in 2006. Before joining the Executive Board in 2011 she led PwC’s Assurance practice in Reading and has also led our mid-cap segment in the South East. Stephanie has worked in a number of our offices in the UK on clients ranging from private businesses through to FTSE100 companies.

07 March 2016

Female demand for international mobility is at an all-time high. Is your organisation prepared?

Gender_070316Did you know that we are experiencing a time of unprecedented – and as yet unmet – female demand for international mobility? PwC’s new study shows that some 71% of female millennials want to work outside their home country during their career, but only 20% of the current internationally mobile population are women.

Is your organisation prepared to respond to this global mobility gender gap?

This Tuesday, 8 March, International Women’s Day (IWD) will be celebrated across the globe. We at PwC are marking the event by releasing our Modern mobility: Moving women with purpose research paper. With a view to finding out more about the international aspirations of the modern workforce, we surveyed almost 4,000 professionals – including 2,285 women – in over 40 countries. In parallel, we also elicited the views of 134 executives with responsibility for global mobility to explore the current trends in mobility, talent management and diversity.

As well as the wide gap highlighted above between female demand for mobility and the reality in the workplace, the report also reveals several other unsettling disconnects around diversity. For example, the overwhelming majority of multinationals in our study told us that global acumen skills were a critical requirement for advancement into leadership positions at their organisations (77%) – and 60% said they use global mobility to develop their succession pipeline of future leaders. Yet only 16% confirmed that the number of female international assignees in their organisation was proportionate to their overall percentage of female employees.

Furthermore, only 22% of global mobility executives stated that their organisations’ diversity and mobility strategies were aligned. Even more worryingly, the same small proportion – 22% – said they were actively trying to increase their levels of internationally mobile women.

So it’s clear that organisations are using international exposure and experiences to develop and advance their key talent. But it’s equally clear that more action is urgently needed to close a significant mobility gender gap. To do this, CEOs must drive an agenda where women are both aware of – and also actively provided with – the critical experiences they need to progress their careers, including international assignment opportunities. Also, to capitalise on the demographics of the modern workforce, mobility programmes cannot simply be operated in a silo. Instead, global mobility, diversity and talent management strategies need to be closely connected and coordinated to support companies’ successful realisation of their international business and people strategies.

Overall, our Moving women with purpose research identifies ten critical themes that organisations must keep front-of-mind if they want to be successful in creating gender inclusive mobility, while also benefiting the overall effectiveness of their global mobility programmes. You can find out more in our video:

The message is clear. In the face of today’s fast-changing workforce demographics, global mobility strategies that do not fully include women will simply not deliver to their full potential. We’d like to invite you to find out more by visiting www.pwc.com/movingwomenwithpurpose, where you can download the full report or an interactive executive summary.

The research study also showcases a number of company case studies – and profiles several women around the world who’ve had successful international assignment experiences.


Aoife_Flood070316Based in Dublin, Ireland, Aoife Flood is Senior Manager of the Global Diversity & Inclusion Programme Office for PwC International Limited with responsibility for the development and implementation of our network-wide global Diversity & Inclusion strategy.

She is a proud PwC female millennial and lead researcher and author of our ‘Modern mobility: Moving women with purpose’, ‘The female millennial: A new era of talent’ and 'Next Generation Diversity: Developing tomorrow's female leaders' thought leadership publications.

Aoife is also co-author of our Global Gender Agenda blog. You can learn more about Aoife here.


25 February 2016

Geena Davis: what you see is what you can be – at Aspire to Lead 2016

Last week in Hollywood, I attended PwC’s third Aspire to Lead Event – our series on leadership for men and women – co-hosted by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences with our three amazing Global Diversity Week winners – Diego, from PwC Mexico, Serisha, from PwC South Africa, and Susan, from PwC Australia.

The panel featured Academy-Award winning actor Geena Davis, as well as Dawn Hudson, CEO of the Academy and Jennifer Yuh Nelson, Academy Award nominee and director of Kung-Fu Panda 2 (who, besides talking gender in Hollywood, also spoke about the power of introverts).

Aspire to Lead

University students and PwC colleagues joined the studio audience, while thousands of people around the world watched the live webcast – which will soon be available to view here.

Having worked in diversity for a number of years now, it’s almost impossible to stun me with facts and figures around the gap between society’s ambitions and the reality of gender parity; and yet, Geena Davis and the panel managed to do just that. Geena’s speech – which I encourage you to watch – highlighted the inequities between women and men in film – inequities that due to their enormous visibility pervade our socialization, behaviors, self-perception, and actions. Just a few compelling examples that she shared:

In a world that’s half female, the ratio of female to male characters on television shows and movies aimed at kids is one to three – and can be as low as one to six. Even in G-rated animated films the female characters that do exist tend to be hyper-stereotyped or hyper-sexualized; and their aspirations tend to be around finding romance. In terms of ‘careers,’ royalty prevails for girls (“a great gig, but hard to land” Davis cracked).

In movies for adults, 81% of jobs are held by males.

Globally, the percentage of women portrayed in the fictional workforce of movies is actually far less than what it is in the real world; whereas 40% of the global workforce is comprised of women, only 25% of them hold jobs in television and the movies.

The more hours a girl watches of television, the fewer options she believes she has; the more hours of television a boy watches, the more sexist he becomes.

What message, Davis asked, are we sending to boys and girls at a very vulnerable age if all of the female characters are one-dimensional, stereotyped, hypersexualized – or simply not there at all? We are teaching them, that women and girls are less important than men and boys; we’re training them to see that women and girls do not take up half of the space in the world. We’re training them, in essence, to see gender imbalance as normal.

The implications of these statistics are staggering. But Davis had a very positive message: unlike places like government and business, Hollywood can literally change the game overnight. “This is doable,” she said. “This is easy compared to lots of the problems in the world.”

Like many of the articles you read about in this blog, Davis shared that people don’t believe there are so many fewer female characters in film – but when she shares the statistics with studios and her actor peers, they sit up and listen – “jaws drop,” she said. Many of them have consciously worked to change the representation of women after meeting with Davis. As an example of the power of seeing professional women on television, she pointed out that there was a 70% increase of women into forensic science as a major in university after shows such as CSI and Bones became popular.

Aspire to Lead
(Pictured above: me and the distinguished panelists with Diego, Serisha, Susan – and of course, Geena)

If, as Davis said, what we see is what we can be, Hollywood and filmmakers all over the world could have an enormous impact right here and right now on the self-perception and aspirations of billions of children around the world. Media can be the solution, she said, to the very problem it’s creating.

For those of us who aren’t screenwriters or Hollywood directors, the panel discussed actions that everyone can take to start changing this paradigm of gender inequality.

Check back here soon to watch the Aspire to Lead recording. And watch this space for exciting news from PwC on International Women’s Day.


P.S. – a “small world” story I had to share because of its novelty: I was sitting next to two PwC professionals from PwC’s Los Angeles office at the event; I asked them if either recruited for PwC at their (I assumed) California alma maters. Chuck did, at UC Santa Barbara; his colleague, however, said, “not really, because I went to a small school in Williamsburg Virginia across the country – The College of William and Mary.” Well. Needless to say, so did I! We even both lived in the same freshman dorm.

Samantha: so nice meeting you and keep up the great tax TICE work in sunny Los Angeles. Go, Green and Gold!

Aspire to Lead

04 February 2016

Making diversity a reality – spotlight on Financial Services

Your board wants diversity. Your clients and employees expect it. But while progress is being made, there is more we want to do with regards to diversifying the financial services (FS) industry. And among the biggest obstacles we face are preferences and prejudices that people may not even be aware of, such as unconscious bias.

Research by neuroscientists identifies that we’re all susceptible to unconscious bias. First impressions do indeed count. Research also identifies we’re more likely to trust people of a similar age, appearance and background to ourselves which often leads management to favour people like themselves when picking out candidates for hiring and promotion. These responses can be quite natural, just one of the shortcuts our brains use to speed up decision making in a complex world. But in business, unconscious bias can be a blind spot and when left unmanaged, organisations may miss out on the opportunity to recruit and develop people with cutting-edge talents, innovative new ideas and a broader range of personal and professional experience.  

Many of these individuals may have been traditionally under-represented in FS management, including women, people with disabilities and ethnic minorities.


Tackling unconscious bias

So how can you tackle unconscious biases?  As we explore in our new report, Making diversity a reality, you can make people more aware of their potential blind spots and develop ways to mitigate them. This includes tracking whether hiring and promotion are equal and, if not, determining whether potential biases may be at play. We refer to this process as ‘creating tension in the system’. If, for example, the proportion of men promoted is significantly greater than the proportion of highly rated men eligible for promotion, can it be justified?  If not, what more can be done?

Word soon spreads

The brightest and best candidates actively seek out organisations that promote genuine diversity and will look to their personal and professional networks to find out whether your business is one of them. Making diversity a demonstrable reality in your business can therefore boost your employer brand and give you a powerful edge in a competitive job market.

Find out more in our Making diversity a reality report by clicking here.

Jon Terry

Global FS HR Consulting Leader

Jon Jon Terry is a member of both PwC’s global and UK financial services leadership team. He is based in our London office with responsibility for the people strategy for approximately 45,000 global financial services specialists.

Jon is also the market leader of PwC’s global Financial Services HR Consulting practice, supporting organisations on their HR challenges. Jon specialises in all aspects of employee motivation and pay. Jon has worked for PwC for over 25 years and works exclusively advising financial services organisations on their HR and reward issues. Jon has extensive experience in advising on all aspects of motivation and pay including roles, responsibilities, performance management and remuneration.

22 January 2016

The HeForShe Parity Report: Leaders talk diversity progress at the World Economic Forum

On 23 January 2015 Emma Watson took the stage of the World Economic Forum in Davos to launch the 10x10x10 impact initiative of the United Nations HeForShe Campaign; the aim being to galvanise momentum in advancing gender equality.  PwC were one of three founding corporate sponsors, and this morning, one year on our global chairman Dennis Nally and the other male CEO impact champions joined Emma Watson on stage at this year’s Davos forum to talk about the progress that has been made and what more needs to be done. 

If you missed the live event, you can tune in to watch a recording here.


The corporate impact champions represent ten of the world’s leading companies and between them over one million employees across the globe.  This year, along with PwC, they took the unprecedented bold step of releasing their workforce gender diversity figures, including details on leadership roles and board membership, in UN Women’s inaugural HeForShe Parity Report. Check the report out here: http://bit.ly/1QmWZFu



At PwC we’ve been busy driving action to deliver on our HeForShe commitments, this includes the launch of our dedicated PwC HeForShe website to help accelerate the HeForShe movement globally both within and beyond PwC last June.  At the time this blog goes live we are pleased to share that over 41,000 people from across the world have pledged as HeForShe supporters via our website, including over 20,000 PwC men. 


Finally, we leave you with some critical words of advice from Dennis Nally to help you understand how to turn words into action on gender parity: http://pwc.to/1T7Xvb4  

Don’t forget to visit our website to make your #HeForShe commitment or access all of our great gender equality action and support tools now.

06 January 2016

Calling all introverts, 10 tips to help you network your own way!

Happy New Year to all our readers, I’m sure many of you are busy making New Year’s resolutions and perhaps for some of you the opportunity to enhance your networking skills is included in that list.  As a frequent traveller one tip I’ve picked up to help me manage my network is marking a star beside everyone on the event or conference attendance list I’ve engaged with.  Then when I’m waiting in the airport departure lounge I’ll take out the list and invite them all to connect on LinkedIn.  Here are ten more great networking tips from this week’s guest blogger Sheila Cassidy.



I distinctly remember my first formal networking event – to put it simply – I was terrified! I had preconceived notions that it was for the extroverted and involved creating artificial relationships. My first exposure to networking was while preparing to travel to Washington D.C. for a summer internship. Thanks to a summer of having frankly no option but to attend formal networking events on a regular basis, my fear abated and I found networking became much easier. I have come to see the process as basically making a host of new and interesting friends.  Now I don’t think twice about attending a networking event on my own and my initial perception of networking as a terrifying activity has completely shifted. 

As I’ve gained networking experience, I’ve realised the importance of networking in a way that suits my personality and style. I’ve always naturally preferred smaller, more intimate groups so when I proactively network I plan one-on-one coffees or lunches. I’ve also used my own personal network to become more “networked” as it feels more natural to be connected to new people through people I already know.

Through networking I have been inspired, gained sponsors and mentors, got jobs, sourced guest speakers and been introduced to amazing people. Some of whom will be friends for life.

At PwC we hire some 26,000 graduate hires across our network of member firms annually and odds are that about half of these hires along with campus hires across the world are introverts like me. So I’ve pulled together ten tips to help introverted graduates starting out in their careers network in a way that works for them.  

1. Be pro-active

Especially when you start at a new firm, ask people to lunch or coffee. If they say no – who cares! You are demonstrating your proactive nature to learn and connect. If you don’t know what to talk about, ask them about their career or what advice would they give someone starting out in their career? People appreciate being asked about their experience and having their opinions valued.

2. Be authentic

The most important thing is to be your true self and maintain authentic relationships. If you have an ulterior motive, it will be transparent and will prevent you from building a trust-based relationship.

3. Follow-up and maintain

Following up is one of the most important aspects of networking. You should ideally follow up within 24 hours to say “it was lovely to meet you and I found our discussion on x, y and z really interesting”. Maintaining the relationship is crucial. You can do this by sending on interesting articles or simply retweeting their posts.  For example, I have an Irish colleague who sends all his American contacts a message on Thanksgiving.

4. Personalise your message

People receive hundreds of e-mails every week, so be different. For example, after I finished an internship I shared a deck outlining all the lessons I’d learnt and events I’d been involved in over the year. It was a great way to say thank you to the firm and demonstrated that I’d made the most of the opportunity they’d given me.  It also worked as of the 150 people I sent it to two thirds responded.

5. Don’t forget about your peers and colleagues

When graduates think about networking they immediately think about networking with management and clients but it is just as important to network with your peers – they will be your teammates now and leaders in the future. Also, getting to know people from different areas of the firm is an important step; it helps to broaden your network and your understanding of the business.

6. Go to events on your own…eventually

For the first few networking events you attend, go with a group or colleague you feel comfortable with. You can observe how others network, gather a list of questions and see what works and what doesn’t. When you are ready to attend on your own, get the attendee list in advance and break down the room into more manageable lists, such as people you already know and people you would like to get to know. Preparation will make it much less intimidating. In addition, to combat the awkwardness of going on your own, arrive 10 minutes early as it is easy to connect with the first few people that arrive.

7. Map your network

When exploring what you want to achieve in your career or personal life, start to think about the people in your network that are already doing it. Map out who would be beneficial for you to receive advice from and don’t be intimated by their title. To share an example that’s close to home: I am passionate about Diversity and Inclusion, so when I started at PwC  I reached out to Aoife (editor of this blog) and now I’m writing guest blogs, have a mentor and have made a friend.

8. You always have something to give

At a junior level, we often worry that we have nothing to offer – but you might be surprised. Junior members of staff often offer energy, enthusiasm, a willingness to learn and an appreciation for advice. If you are intimidated by reaching out to someone that is in a leadership position, try to think about how nice it would be if someone reached out to you asking for your time? It’s important we all remember that we each have something to offer. For example, we might be able to reverse mentor leaders on topics like social media.

9. Practice your elevator pitch, handshake and have your business cards ready

Have your elevator pitch ready - short and snappy with no wasted words. In addition, your handshake is one of the first impressions you make – make sure it is a good one. Keep it firm, dry and remember eye contact! Lastly, get business cards and have them readily accessible. A great tip I received was to write anything distinctive about the person on the back of their business card. If you meet a lot of people in one night it can be difficult to remember who’s who.

10. Say thanks

When you start at a new firm, you meet loads of people that are facilitating training, giving you insights into the firm or helping you with your first project – make sure to thank them at the end of the session and send a follow-up e-mail. The simple step of showing appreciation can make a difference and starts your relationship on a strong foundation.

Thanks for reading and to those who contributed their ideas. Feel free to comment on what your own top networking tips are below.


Sheila Sheila Cassidy is a Senior Associate with PwC Ireland's Consulting practice and specialises in helping organisations during transformational change. Sheila has experience in the Retail and Consumer, Start-up and Aviation sector. Since joining the firm Sheila co-founded the Lean In Speaker Series in PwC Ireland, which is designed to encourage discussion about personal and professional development and diversity and inclusion in the firm. Prior to starting with PwC Ireland, Sheila completed a Masters of Science in Management and Bachelor of Law in Queens University Belfast and The University of Newcastle, Australia. Sheila has worked in numerous organisations, including time abroad in London and Atlanta.

23 December 2015

PwC’s 12 gifts of diversity

Wow, can you believe it, another year almost over.  Where does the time go? It seems it moves especially fast when you are getting to work on lots of exciting projects and initiatives and this has certainly been the case for our Global Diversity Programme Office this year. So, to wrap up the year we’d like to share our “12 gifts of diversity” from 2015 with our Gender Agenda readers.

Gift 1 – The CEO view

In January we launched our 18th Annual CEO survey and this year Diversity was one of the key themes.  CEOs from across the globe told us that talent diversity and inclusiveness are no longer considered ‘soft’ issues, but rather as crucial competitive capabilities. Furthermore, of the CEOs whose companies have a formal D&I strategy, 85% think it’s improved the bottom line in addition to other benefits such as enhanced: innovation, collaboration, customer satisfaction and talent attraction. Explore the diversity findings here.

Gift 2 – Aspire to Lead

In February, we hosted our second global webcast in our Aspire to Lead series focused on women and leadership.  Titled “The Confidence to Lead” and focusing on the question, ‘What would you do if you were not afraid?’ the webcast was watched by thousands of campus students across the globe.  Watch the webcast recording and learn more about our 2016 Aspire event by clicking here.

Gift 3 – The case for change

In February, our UK firm launched their (if I do say so myself, truly fantastic) The case for change: Taking action to be more open minded video. The film traces the journey of equality by looking back at some of the key global milestones in history emphasising that when we want to change and when we decide to act, great things can happen.  Watch it here

Gift 4 – How to address gender bias in Global Mobility

In February, our Australian firm in collaboration with The Centre for Ethical Leadership launched their Developing female leaders: Addressing gender bias in global mobility research report.  Access it here and continue to watch this space as we recently embarked on a ground-breaking global Talent Diversity & Mobility research study and will be bringing you the results during March of next year.

Gift 5 - Insights from female millennial talent

In March we launched The female millennial: A new era of talent, a report sharing the views of almost 10,000 female millennials from over 75 countries.  The report told us one thing is clear: when we consider the female millennial (women born between 1980-95) we really are talking about a new era of female talent.  They are more highly educated, entering the workforce in larger numbers and are more career confident and ambitious than their previous generations.  Access the report here.

Gift 6 – PwC’s Women in Work Index

In March, the third annual update of our PwC Women in Work Index also launched.  The Index is a weighted average of various measures that reflect female economic empowerment. Once again the Nordic countries continued to dominate the Index, with Norway remaining in pole position.  Find out where your country ranks by clicking here

Gift 7 – Women in Technology blog

In June, PwC’s technology group recognised that we have a gender balance problem in technology, which is not unique to PwC. To create awareness and help drive change, PwC’s Women in Technology – Change the ration blog was launched.  Find out more about why here.

Gift 8 - Global Diversity Week

This June, we were very excited to host our second ever Global Diversity Week Inclusion campaign, engaging all of our people across the globe (over 200,000 of them) with the theme ‘From awareness to action’.  Learn more about our activities and how you might drive a similar campaign at your organisation here.

Gift 9 – The PwC HeForShe website

At the World Economic Forum in Davos last January, we were very excited when our Global Chairman Dennis Nally became one of the first corporate leaders to sign on as an IMPACT 10x10x10 UN HeForShe champion.  In June, we launched our dedicated PwC HeForShe website to help accelerate the HeForShe movement globally both within and beyond PwC.  As of today over 25,000 people from across the world have pledged as HeForShe supporters via our website, including 12,880 PwC men.  Visit our website to make your pledge or access all of our great gender equality action and support tools now.

Gift 10 – Raise the bar for yourself

In August we shared a recording of Nora Wu’s (PwC PwC Vice Chairwoman and Global Human Capital Leader) TEDx Women in Shanghai TED talk.  Nora is incredibly authentic, impressive, humble and inspiring.  Thousands have already watched it, so why not be inspired by Nora’s career experience and tips by tuning in and watching her TED talk here.

Gift 11 – Spotlight on Financial Services: Diversity Matters

This November, our colleagues in Financial Services launched their Making diversity a reality: Realising the power and potential of a changing workforce report.  Diversity in all its forms is a vital element of the changing talent focus within financial services.  Read the report to find out if your organisation is doing enough to support diversity and inclusion throughout all the milestones of your employee’s career, from recruitment and development opportunities to promotion. Access it here.

Gift 12 – Our Gender Agenda blog

Hopefully our readers agree that our Gender Agenda blog is the gift that keeps on giving with this entry marking our 22nd blog of 2015.  We want to thank you wholeheartedly for reading our blog throughout the year, you are one of almost 50,000 readers who tuned in this year alone.  As our final “gift of diversity” we share one of our most popular blogs of 2015 with you – Are you creating the right type of feedback culture?

So from myself and Dale, we would like to sign off this last blog for 2015 by wishing you all a fantastic holiday, no matter how you celebrate it, and a very happy New Year.  


Aoife and Dale