16 June 2016

Keep your colleagues close and your friends closer

Thirty-one years ago I began primary school and since then there have been four constants in my life; they go by the names Maria, Michelle, Maureen and Máire. Back then we played with the same toys, held the same interests, wore the same clothes and even formed a girl-group at the age of ten called ‘4M’s-1A’ long before the Spice Girls and ‘girl power’.  Today, we are much more about embracing our own unique differences, recognise we can’t sing and work in the fields of diversity, finance, travel, writing and acting.

Last year my mum’s two best friends were very welcome guests at my wedding, they’ve been friends for 60 years. Powerful friendships have been instrumental in both mine and my mother’s lives.  So when this week’s guest blogger Claire Millar asked me what I thought about her writing a guest blog on the impact her friends have had on her career, I simply could not have been more on board. 



There are many influences in a woman’s life that can help to enhance or hinder her career progression.  In particular, the people in our lives play a pivotal role, women and men. I do however feel that a girl’s best friend can play a much bigger role than that portrayed in the movies and my experience has shown me that strong female friendships can affect your work life as well as your personal life.

I have been lucky enough to have phenomenal women at PwC guide and support me thus far in my career as well as some very special women outside of work. Women supporting women in the workplace is often discussed and widely documented. There is much research highlighting the benefits of female support on a woman’s career. However, it is less common to hear of the positive impact the women outside of the workplace can have on our careers.

I have lots of amazing female influences in my personal life; my mother, my sister and not least my best friends. I would rarely make a decision pertaining to my career prior to consulting with my best friends and they have played a hugely influential role in my chosen professional path.

Last September marked 20 years since my mother first put me in my bottle green school uniform and said goodbye at the school gates. It also marked the beginning of many beautiful friendships, the majority of which still hold strong today.  


The group comprises a range of careers; nurses, accountants, marketing and media execs, teachers, social workers, finance analysts, a scientist, an air hostess and an architect. Some own houses, some are mothers, others are single.  Yet irrespective of our diverse careers and lifestyles, we have the strongest friendship I have ever witnessed and act not only as a support network for each other, but also as advice givers and mentors. There is something incredibly special about having my own personal team of mentors with such a wide range of expertise. We’ve even taken to holding an annual award ceremony recognising the accomplishments of one another.

I told my friends I was writing this blog and asked if they felt this group had encouraged or helped them with regards to their educations and careers. The response was almost immediate and overwhelming.  There was not one of us that had not benefited professionally from each other’s support throughout the course of our 20 year long friendship. With many of the group now living overseas to follow their career and travel dreams, there were countless stories of the guidance and support they experienced when making the difficult decision to emigrate and throughout the transition process. Others thanked the group for encouraging them to return to college to further their education, a risk they feel was definitely worth taking.

One friend described the challenge she faced when deciding whether to leave what was described in her own words as a credible job in business banking to go and work as an air hostess for one of the largest airlines in the world. She explained how she faced negative reactions and felt patronised by people when they learned of her decision, yet received nothing but encouragement and honest advice from our group of friends. More than a year on, she feels that for the first time she is doing a job where she feels fulfilled both career wise and personally.

On a personal level, I had what was arguably the most challenging summer of my life last year as I faced the FAE exams, the final step towards becoming a chartered accountant here in Ireland. At times, I struggled to maintain focus but any time when my motivation faltered, I had a full team behind me to encourage and support me at every hurdle. When I got the good news that I had qualified my friends were bursting with pride. More importantly, they made me realise that regardless of the outcome, I would be ok.

These friends have had and continue to have a profound influence on my life both personally and professionally. I would encourage women to discuss career matters with their friends. We often talk about the importance of diversity and sometimes having input from people who work in a completely different business to you and know you personally can be tremendously powerful. As much as our conversations do revolve around the typically girlie topics, just as many involve notes of encouragement and congratulations on everyday achievements like a positive review in work.  

Are you experiencing a challenge in work, considering a career move or do you want to tell someone about something you achieved?  Take my advice and discuss with a friend!



Claire Millar based in Dublin is an ACA qualified senior associate in PwC Ireland’s Asset Management division.  Prior to starting as a graduate hire with PwC Ireland Claire completed a B.Sc. in Accounting and Finance in DIT Aungier Street before going on to complete the Master of Accounting programme in UCD’s Smurfit School. Her article, Through the Glass Ceiling – Influences on and challenges faced by female partners in Big 4 accounting practises, was published in Accountancy Ireland. Since joining the firm, she has become involved with the 30% Club in Ireland, acting as an aide to the Steering Committee.

You can connect with Claire on LinkedIn or follow her on Twitter.

24 May 2016

One Step Forward and One Step Back for Woman CEOs in 2015

In Strategy&’s 2013 ‘Women CEOs of the last 10 years’ we finally caught sight of some positive diversity predictions; in particular that by 2040, Strategy& projected that women will make up about one third of new CEO appointments.  Strategy&’s CEO Success study examines the degree, nature, and geographic distribution of chief executive changes among the world’s 2,500 largest public companies. This year, the study highlighted one further positive trend for female CEOs: that they are no longer more likely to be forced out than their male counterparts.  From 2004 to 2015, women CEOs were 27% more likely to be forced out than men CEOs, but in 2015 for the first time, the difference was not statistically significant.

However, it’s not all good news for women CEOs. Last year, just 10 women were among the 359 incoming CEOs; at 2.8% that was the lowest share since 2011, and far below the 5.2% peak reached in 2014. 


One of the least impressive results in 2015 was in North America, which has historically been the most welcoming of all regions for women executives. Since 2004, incoming women CEOs in the U.S. and Canada have made up 4% of the total, compared with the global average of 3%. In fact, 42% of all the women CEOs who have been appointed over the last 12 years were appointed at North American companies. But in the U.S. and Canada, only 1.1% of CEOs appointed in 2015 were female, the lowest percentage of incoming women CEOs in the U.S. and Canada since we began tracking the incoming class of CEOs in 2004 (see Exhibit B). 


Women CEOs continue to be hired from outside more often than men. From 2004 to 2015, 32% of new women CEOs have been outsiders, compared with 23% of men. In the past, Strategy& have attributed this to the relatively low number of women in senior leadership roles within companies. Only 14.2% of the top five leadership positions at S&P 500 companies are held by women, according to a CNNMoney analysis.


There could be another factor at work. Senior female executives, like senior male executives, often leave companies when they are passed over for a CEO role. The likelihood that some companies aren’t recognizing the potential of internal women executives may cause them to be receptive to recruitment efforts for outside CEO positions. Given the rise of outsider CEOs noted in the main article, however, the fact that more companies are considering outsiders might improve the chances for women CEOs in the future. 

Although the numbers of incoming female CEOs have always been low, there had seemed to be a slow trend toward higher numbers over the last several years. Despite this year’s reversal, Strategy& remain confident that demographic, educational, and societal forces will continue to promote greater diversity in the C-suite and continue to predict as much as a third of the incoming CEO class around the world will be female by 2040.

Find out more by visiting: http://www.strategyand.pwc.com/ceosuccess/womenCEOs

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.