23 July 2013

Leaning In, together – join the webcast

Later today, Bob Moritz, PwC US Chairman and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg will embark on an exciting conversation about gender, leadership, and the workplace – and we want to give you the opportunity to be part of it!

Lean-InThree months ago, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg launched an international movement to encourage women to “lean in” to their ambitions with her book Lean In: Women, Work & the Will to Lead, and non-profit foundation LeanIn.org.  Her argument that women need to overcome their own internal barriers in order to advance their careers provoked significant debate. Critics claimed she was blaming women for not making it to the top, while supporters believe she is inspiring women to aim higher. The book has become a best seller and generated vast international media coverage.

During this PwC Talk, Bob will interview Sheryl to hear her perspective about why she wrote the book, what she thought about the controversy, and how men can join the dialogue.  Furthermore Sheryl will be answering audience questions, including those submitted from the live virtual global audience. 

Sound interesting? Well why not join us via our live webcast. 

What time?

Tuesday, 23 July:

11:00 – 12: 00 San Francisco / 14:00 – 15:00 New York / 15:00 – 16:00 Sao Paulo

19:00 – 20:00 London / 20:00 – 21:00 Paris / 22:00 – 23:00 Moscow

2:00 – 3:00 China / 4:00 – 5:00 Sydney (+ 1 day - Wednesday, 24 July)


Simply click here:  Leaning In, together

Can’t make it!

Can’t make the live event due to your time zone or a scheduling conflict? We’ll be sharing a recording of the event shortly after it concludes: to access just click here Leaning In, together.

Want to submit a question?

Sheryl and Bob will both be answering audience questions, including those submitted from the live virtual global audience.  Want to submit a question, you can do so now by clicking here: PwC Talks: Leaning In, together.


Aoife and Dale

17 July 2013

Women Leaders: the key organisational ingredient to surviving in a millennial world

Little things happen in our daily work life and sometimes it is these little things that make us most proud to be associated with our organisations.  PwC sponsored a recent Harvard Alumni event and while making arrangements for this event I asked the core PwC partner involved who they would like to invite along.  Given this was a high profile event, pitched at high profile women, I was rather pleased that the partner chose to bring Sarah, a millennial talent she was focused on mentoring. 

What might seem a ‘little gesture’ to one can be somewhat magnified to another.  This invite meant that Sarah got exposure to very senior female role-models, very early in her career, and had it not been for this ‘little gesture’ Sarah might not have been exposed to such senior female leaders (beyond PwC) until much later in her career.  Even more gratifying for me is the fact that the experience left Sarah feeling inspired, and it is through this inspiration that we bring you this week’s guest blog, written by Sarah Passmore.

Before I hand you over to Sarah, I want to first share the exciting news that Bob Moritz, Chairman PwC US, will be embarking on a conversation with Sheryl Sandberg next week (23 July).  Even better, we would like you to be part of this conversation.  Interested? Just click here to learn more!




Recently I attended the London Harvard Business School Alumni Club’s celebration of 50 years of women on the Harvard Business School campus; sponsored by PwC.

There was an impressive line-up of speakers, including Barbara Minto, designer of the Minto Pyramid principle (and first ever female consultant at McKinsey), Orit Gadiesh, first female Chairman of Bain and Company and Rona Fairhead, former Chairman and Chief Executive of the Financial Times Group.  These women were there to tell stories of their rise to the top following their time at Harvard.  One of the reasons they had been asked to join the panel was because they were ‘trailblazers’, both at Harvard and in their subsequent careers.

It’s easy to forget that it wasn’t long ago, when these women were setting out, that overt gender discrimination was commonplace.  Orit, for example, was told in all seriousness that ‘women are bad luck’ when she started work in the steel industry.  The story is told as a joke today, which in itself shows how much, luckily, times have changed.  For example, a 2012 study found that 50% of graduates are women. Diversity has a voice on the agenda in the boardroom.  It feels like we’ve come a long way from the business world described that evening.

But we can’t get away from the much-publicised fact that women are not reaching board positions. Although we’ve got equality at entry-level, only 30% of these women go on to become managers, and only 10% progress to senior management levels.  The successes of Barbara, Orit and Rona are still in the minority.  There are only 192 women directors on FTSE 100 boards, out of a total of 1,110 places. Women make up 20 of 193 world leaders recognised by the United Nations.  Even the most diverse organisations, and nations, simply aren’t cutting it as you near the starry heights of the Executive.

So even though we’ve come a long way, there is a prevailing undercurrent of prejudice, at least at the top levels.  But it’s been over 40 years since women like Barbara, Orit and Rona joined the workforce.  What’s it going to take to get us to the top?

Recent studies explore a number of changes that will support the female agenda.  This varies from ‘executive feminism’ and a growing focus on diversity initiatives, to a steady rise in Asian female employment due to savvy multinationals.

I’m going to focus on the ‘millennial effect’, because I believe it will have a major impact on the diversity agenda and on how businesses are run.

In the HR Consulting practice, we have seen an increased focus on organisations seeking to embed their corporate values and behaviours.  Over the last 18 months specifically, companies have been increasingly looking to define what they stand for.  Why? Because companies know that today, values matter.  There are two reasons for this, and both will support the rise of women through senior management.

Firstly, customers have changed.  In addition to caring about the quality of product or service they are getting, they care about what the brands they buy stand for, and are willing to go elsewhere if it doesn’t fit with their own value system.  Consumers increasingly demand information as to how and where their products are produced. They demand fair working conditions for factory-workers, will pay a premium for fair-trade, and avoid brands who don’t pay ‘fair’ amounts of tax.  These preferences are no longer limited to an ‘elite shopper’; they simply reflect the demands of the ‘millennial shopper’.

In this way, customer loyalty is increasingly coming from creating a connection between the customer and the brand, so companies are placing a real focus on getting to know their customers and building relationships with them.  This was also the focus of Seth Godin’s latest book The Icarus Principle. Take the success of brands like Innocent, Apple, or Google.  Their success comes from having strong and authentic corporate values that build and maintain powerful relationships with their customers.

There is a second reason that values matter to businesses.  At the same time as businesses having to change to accommodate the ‘millennial shopper’, they must also accommodate the ‘millennial worker’.


As we know, the millennial generation is a growing presence in today’s workforce.  Businesses are beginning to understand what impact this will have on how they operate.  What makes this more pressing are the results of the recent PwC NextGen study; it shows that millennial values aren’t limited to the millennial generation.  The workforce as a whole is increasingly caring about corporate values.  People want to feel like part of a team.  They want a purpose.  They also want things like a flexible schedule and development opportunities.  By 2020, millennials will account for 50% of the global workforce, but as we’ve seen, ‘millennial values’ are likely to account for more.

To respond to this, businesses are increasing focus on embedding corporate values, investing in graduate development and talent management programmes, and on flexible working.

Savvy organisations are going further than this.  To engage both millennial workers and millennial shoppers, they are actively building authentic, values-driven organisations that encourage their employees to ‘live’ their corporate values.  They encourage employees to really connect with the organisation, and for this to shape how they interact with their customers.  In this way, employees create the authentic connections that customers are looking for.

What has all of this got to do with the gender agenda? Simply, building this change in the way organisations view their customers and workforce requires a radical change in the way they are run. Without adapting, traditional top-down organisations won’t survive.

A study of 7,280 leaders by Harvard Business Review reveals that women excel in the areas that will deliver this change.  According to the study, women have high integrity, and a greater propensity to develop others, to inspire, and to motivate.  Women build relationships, collaborate and champion teamwork (Men were rated more positively on only one leadership competency in sixteen).  These are the very qualities that deliver the leadership and values that millennials are looking for.  They build the sense of purpose, the authenticity and the values-driven culture that will engage and retain millennial workers. It is these leadership traits that will ensure workers are equipped with the skills they need to build strong and lasting relationships with customers.

Women are positioned for success because we have millennial values.  We can help to shape organisations that can thrive in the changing environment.  There’s a clear message for business here.  They need to set women up to succeed if they want to survive in a millennial world.

Sarah Passmore is a Manager in PwC's UK HR Consulting practice, where she works with clients to align their people strategy with business strategy, focussing specifically on individual Performance Management.


05 July 2013

Mending the gender gap: Advancing tomorrow’s women leaders in financial services

Let me start this blog by sharing the exciting news that PwC has announced the new global leadership appointment of Agnès Hussherr as the Global Diversity Leader.  Based in Paris, Agnès joined PwC France in 1989 and has been involved in network Diversity efforts along with leading the ‘Women in PwC’ initiative in France for many years.  Watch this space as Agnès will be sharing more about herself and her perspectives on Diversity with our Gender Agenda blog readers in the very near future.


Agnès is a client relationship partner in Assurance with clients in the banking industry, and given her Financial Services expertise it felt very appropriate we share some recent PwC Thought Leadership on women leaders in financial services.

The lack of women leaders continues to grab the spotlight, and that is because it is far more than just a social issue.  It is an issue with financial, legislative, risk management, and talent retention implications.  Simply put, Diversity is a business issue with a clear business case

So lets shine a light on women leaders in the financial services industry, or the lack there of!  Despite making up more than half the workforce in financial institutions, women continue to dramatically lag behind their male counterparts in leadership roles.  In fact data from 20 global markets shows women comprise nearly 60% of employees in the financial services industry, but only 19% progress through the leadership ranks to senior level roles.  Board and CEO representation is even more alarming: women hold only 14% of board seats and a mere 2% of CEO positions.

There is no denying that workplace gender diversity has come far when compared with past decades, however progress in the last several years has been painfully slow.  For example, among the European Union member states, the number of women on boards has increased by an average of only 0.6% per year since 2003.  It is this lack of progress that is raising the level of urgency on this business issue. 

In this PwC Thought Leadership, we take a closer look at the shortage of women in leadership and describe the strategy financial institutions can take to expand their pipeline of women leaders.  This strategy can help close the gender gap and position companies for the many benefits that accompany a gender-diverse workforce.  

Mending the Gender Gap

Mending the gender gap: Advancing tomorrow’s women leaders in financial services.


18 June 2013

The Power of One Word

Very recently I attended the Womensphere Europe Summit in London.  This was an inspiring event, with many exceptional men and women sharing the story of their career journeys and their views on diversity.  I left the summit feeling two things:

  1. Reinvigorated in my passion for what I do.  It never hurts to have purpose.
  2. What a shame more people who don’t yet get the business case for diversity weren’t in the room. I feel it would have changed their minds.


I took a nugget from each presenter (there were many, with brief ten minute time slots each).  But some of these nuggets connected, and have manifested into the concept of this blog: the power of one word.

Part of the summit focused on STEM industries, which is not at all surprising when we consider that less than 25 percent of STEM jobs in the U.S. economy are held by women, despite women holding nearly half of all U.S.  jobs.   At points the discussion moved in the direction of understanding why these disciplines don’t appeal more to women.

This gets one thinking about how these subjects are ‘packaged’;  historically they have often been articulated in a manner that makes them appear boring, uninteresting, too challenging, dull and masculine to females, in particular school girls.  Yet, at the same time we know that women in these industries can excel – think Ada Lovelace or in more modern terms Marrisa Mayer.  

This certainly resonated with me.  I remember getting the results of aptitude tests I had to complete during my penultimate year of secondary school (high school). The career advisor informed me I had an excellent aptitude to become an engineer.  When I asked her what such a job would entail, I soon switched off – it sounded anything but interesting to me – and engineering aspirations I did not pursue.  With hindsight, I know that engineering is  anything but dull and uninteresting.  I wonder how many others girls had the same experience as me?

Dr. Oliver Oullier a Professor of behavioural and brain sciences referenced some research during his session.  The reference sparked my interest so I found it, and read it.  The research involved an experiment whereby school children ranked as both high and low performing geometry students were asked to learn a complex geometrical figure and reproduce it.  One group was told they were completing a geometry task, the other group was told they were completing a drawing task.


The results: both groups of students performed equivalently in the drawing task, while the low achievers underperformed in relation to the high achievers when the task was presented as a geometry task.   Low achievers in geometry performed better on the exact same task once it was labelled a ‘drawing task’; many reasons including stereotype threat were identified as the antecedents for such results.  At its simplest what you can take from this research is that the power of one word can enhance performance.  This certainly is thought provoking when we consider how these disciplines are ‘packaged’.

Next I move onto Phil Smith CEO, Cisco UK and Ireland.  Phil spoke of an apprentice programme Cisco had introduced recently to target school leavers.  Year one, they advertised for Programme Services Apprentices.  Their intake was 60% female and 40% male.  Year two, they went to market with a System Engineer Apprenticeship programme – they had 19 applicants, but only two were female.  In response, they took note of the ‘packaging’ and rebranded seeking ‘Business Technology Specialist’ apprentices for the exact same roles. Guess what happened?  They recruited 60% female and 40% male.


Cisco has taken this concept from ‘thought provoking’ to ‘practice’, and from a gender perspective has reaped the reward.  And when it comes to thinking about how we ‘package’ STEM, how about the fact that women with STEM jobs earn 33 percent more than comparable women in non-STEM jobs.

Moving beyond STEM to business more broadly, it’s hard not to talk about ‘the power of one word’ without mentioning the HBR Heidi/Howard case-study.  For those of you that have recently read Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In you’ll be well familiar with this research, which was aimed at testing the perceptions of men and women in the workplace. 

Groups of Harvard students were provided an identical case-study with one exception – a name change – one group’s case study referenced Heidi, the other group’s referenced Howard.  Both groups equally respected Heidi and Howard, and rated them equally competent.  However, Howard was considered to be the more appealing colleague while Heidi was considered selfish, and not the type of person you would want to work for or hire.  Let me reiterate the case was identical; Heidi and Howard are the exact same person with the exception of the name change.  The case reinforced a plethora of research that finds success and likeability are positively correlated for men and negatively correlated for women in business.

Ultimately, if you are in the business of seeking objective talent and development strategies for your entire workforce no matter the industry, or attracting talent towards STEM disciplines or careers, there is a lot to be considered when we think about the power of one word (or in Cisco’s case three words!). 


04 June 2013

Vital Signs: Understanding - and Impacting - Your Talent Pipeline

Earlier this year, our ‘Diversity – it is a business issue with a clear business case’ blog issue shared some of the Global D&I activities that are keeping Dale and I busy.  One such initiative is the launch of our Global D&I toolkit.  A clear message delivered through this toolkit is that before creating a D&I business case it is critical our D&I SMEs across the globe first understand the demographic fitness of their member firm.  In this regard internal data and benchmarking is integral.

So when I saw Catalyst release their Vital Signs series I just had to take the opportunity to enable the sharing of this message more broadly and I am very pleased to bring you a guest blog from Jennifer Kohler on the topic.




Vital-SignsFor years, we at Catalyst have catalogued the progress (or lack thereof) of companies pursuing greater gender diversity and inclusion. Our Census has shown consistent gaps between the numbers of women and men in leadership positions. Our research has explored common myths for why women lag so significantly in obtaining leadership roles. And companies often approach our consulting practice concerned about gaps, “drop-offs,” or ceilings women face as they move through the pipeline. Combining our foundational research with on-the-ground insights from this consulting, Catalyst now offers a new approach to moving the needle and building a stronger, more diversified talent pipeline: Vital Signs.

Reports and numbers alone don’t generate answers for why the needle is stuck, so we are asking companies to shift from seeing their workforce data as points of awareness, to real drivers of change. It’s also about more than the numbers—it’s about your talent and, importantly, understanding the experience of that talent within your company. This internal benchmarking is fundamental to making progress: we call it understanding your diversity and inclusion “health.” Only with an accurate picture of your health can you secure the right prescription for getting better; and in this case, more talented women advancing means stronger, more sustainable business results. 

At Catalyst,  we guide organizations to an elevated understanding of their workforce, and Vital Signs turns this into a self-directed exercise, with easy-to-use tools, short exercises, and key questions that focus you on what to track, and why. Once you have an understanding of where you’re losing women, we then help you think about the root causes. It’s only with these insights that you can identify actions specifically suited to your organization, department, or region – actions that have the best chance at having impact. 

For those who aren’t steeped in the data, we invite you to test common assumptions that hurt women’s careers, and to replace them with facts.  For example, many companies claim they can’t find senior-level women. To counter this, we offer leading-edge practices and steps to take to circumvent this “excuse” and find the talented women you need.

We also want individuals across organizations—from line leaders to talent management professionals—to ask critical talent-related questions, such as “Who received the last three high-profile assignments?” These questions yield critical information that can provoke more thinking than any pie chart, and ultimately can help change the shape of your workforce—without tons of numbers.

Globally, we know workforce data can pose a challenge, so we encourage companies to monitor policies and programs in place and their impact on talent—for example, tracking the assignments of those returning from parental leave.  We also share ways all organizations can better monitor, and prevent, the loss of valuable talent—for example, looking at time in position. 

These insights can support a business case, help companies set goals, and focus on the right key performance indicators to track – but the benefits go beyond this. From our experience with leading organizations, many have been “stuck” for some time – struggling to close gaps in representation from the entry-level to senior leadership ranks – and don’t know what to do.  We know the exercise of challenging assumptions about women with data, asking targeted, talent-related questions, and understanding the full story behind the numbers leads to the breakthroughs necessary for getting past “stuck.” We know companies are ready to move on from talking about diversity and inclusion to doing something that has impact on their talent and their Jennifer-Kbusiness—and Vital Signs is here to help. 

Jennifer Kohler is a Director and Consultant, Global Member Services, at Catalyst, and also leads Vital Signs. 

Find out more about Jennifer.

21 May 2013

Evolve or die: workplace flexibility and the next generation

PwC’s NextGen: A global generational study, which was conducted in conjunction with the University of Southern California and the London Business School, represents the most ambitious research into the Millennial generation, or ‘Generation Y’. The study included responses from 44,000 employees throughout PwC’s global network of professional service firms, with almost one quarter of the responses coming from Millennials.

This two-year research undertaking finds that the Millennial generation, those born between 1980 and 1995, seek more workplace flexibility, better balance between their work and home life, and opportunity for overseas assignments as keys to greater job satisfaction.


The research study both confirmed and dispelled stereotypes about Millennials.  While younger workers are more tech savvy, globally focused, and willing to share information, the study found they did not feel more entitled or less committed than their older, non-Millennial counterparts, and are willing to work just as hard.  The global survey also found that many of the Millennials' attitudes are consistently shared by their more senior colleagues.

The study sought to measure factors relating to workplace retention, loyalty and job satisfaction. It compared responses among Millennials to those of non-Millennials at the same stage of their careers to assess generational differences between the two sets of employees.

There are a number of key lessons at the heart of the PwC NextGen study findings. 

When-you-were-bornMillennial employees want greater flexibility…and so does everyone else.

Millennials and non-Millennials alike want the option to shift their work hours to accommodate their own schedules and are interested in working outside the office where they can stay connected by way of technology. Employees across all generations also say they would be willing to forego some pay and delay promotions in exchange for reducing their hours.

Millennials put a premium on work/life balance.

Unlike past generations, who put an emphasis on their careers and worked well beyond a 40-hour work week in the hope of rising to higher-paying positions later on, Millennials are not convinced that such early career sacrifices are worth the potential rewards. A balance between their personal and work lives is more important to them.

These findings are important for business leaders who need to understand, and diversity practitioners who need to deliver, the business case for diversity.  For too long flexibility and work/life balance have been associated with female talent.  This NextGen research report does more than dispel stereotypes related to the Millennial generation, it also goes some way towards dispelling some gender stereotypes. 

Flexibility is not just about women; for Millennials, it is a talent wide imperative.  In fact, the study finds that given the opportunity, 64% of Millennials and 66% of non-Millennials would like to occasionally work from home, and 66% of Millennials and 64% of non-Millennials would like the option to occasionally shift their work hours.  15% of all male employees and 21% of all female employees say they would give up some of their pay and slow the pace of promotion in exchange for working fewer hours.  What is critical here is that work/life balance is more important to a much broader subset of Millennials – Millennial women and Millennial men. 

Likewise, work/life balance, while more important to the Millennial generation, is valued by non-Millenials as well; in fact, 71% of Millennials vs. 63% of non-Millennials say that their work demands significantly interfere with their personal lives.

When leadership and organisations understand that flexibility and work/life balance are not just Millennial- or women-focused challenges, but are indeed about everyone, and begin to consider them with strategies and policies targeted at the whole talent population, then we will continue to see a shift toward more truly diverse and inclusive work cultures and organisations.  

So please, let’s start talk about flexibility and work/life balance as a talent wide proposition! Find out more on the PwC’s NextGen Study at http://www.pwc.com/gx/en/hr-management-services/publications/nextgen-study.jhtml.


09 May 2013

How the light gets in

We had a phone call from The Institute of Arts and Ideas (IAI) recently and we have to admit, they were not a body we would have intuitively linked with our strategic efforts here in PwC on diversity.  However, reading their brand statement ‘realising the potential of the 21st century intellectual landscape’ gave us pause for thought; as part of our diversity strategy is undoubtedly about realising the potential of our PwC intellectual and talent landscape.  

So it turns out, some of their team are avid readers of our Gender Agenda blog (which is always nice to hear) and they wanted to bring our attention to their upcoming How the Light Gets In festival, which it turns out it is the world's largest philosophy and music festival, and appears to have a wonderfully eclectic programme of thought-provoking debates, music, and comedy. 


As diversity practitioners we keep ourselves informed of current research, legislation, best practice and dialogue on all things diversity. 

This festival made us think we need to start thinking in more broad and diverse terms as to how we keep abreast of developments in such areas beyond our usual sources.   So when Zoe Willox Dunant of the IAI encouraged us to look at the programme for How the Light Gets In festival because she thought some of it may be of interest to us, we couldn’t have agreed more. 

The programme includes a number of relevant philosophy sessions: The World after Men, Revolutionary Women, More than Equal, After Feminism, United in Difference.  And one that particularly piqued our interest entitled Thinking Differently

This Thinking Differently debate brings together a diverse mix of experts including Scottish feminist linguist Deborah Cameron, feminist psychologist Carol Gilligan and Cambridge philosopher Simon Blackburn as they embark upon a quest for new ways of thinking.

A rather enticing session description is outlined…

Thinking differently
Have we made a mistake in the way we think? Some believe our very language and thought are inherently male, and that this is a serious shortcoming. Can we create a new way of thinking that is not masculine, and as a consequence create a new world, or is this a misguided fantasy?

…which already has us thinking. 

Encouraging new ways of thinking is part of our role.  We aim to get leadership, management, the whole talent population of our organisations to think in new and different ways, including thinking about diversity itself differently.  To understand that diversity is a business issue with a clear business case, and harness the creativity and innovation of our workforce.

The importance of language and thinking differently was at the crux of Dennis Nally’s recent PwC CEO Insight’s blog entitled Stop talking about diversity.  Dennis shares why he believes that discussing diversity implicitly  at the global level (as opposed to explicitly) will sustain momentum in the face of uncertain markets and help tap into talent.

One thing is for sure: just thinking about ‘thinking differently’ in itself is a positive step.  Be that through broadening the scope of our subject matter sources on diversity, or through evoking new ways of thinking about diversity in our leaders and peers.

We can’t wait to see how these fascinating philosophy sessions take form at How the Light Gets In festival, which runs from 23 May-2 June. 

For those who can’t attend, the IAI will make the philosophy sessions available on line at http://iai.tv/ - we’ll be sure to let you know when, so that we can all tune in. 


23 April 2013

Women in work – Nordic countries lead the PwC rankings

By Yong Jing Teow and John Hawksworth

New PwC research reveals that the Nordic countries lead the OECD countries in advancing equality in gender pay and opportunities in the workplace.

Our new PwC Women in Work Index shows that women in OECD countries are gaining ground in the workplace (see figure below). This is based on a weighted average of 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.

The Nordic countries have consistently remained in the lead. In 2011, Norway was in pole position, followed by Sweden, Denmark, New Zealand and Finland. Though Spain’s performance in 2011 remains below the OECD average, its improvement over the years is striking: Spain saw a 15 percentage point increase in female labour force participation rates and a 9 percentage point reduction in the gender wage gap (find out more on Women as Leaders in Spain here).

Women in OECD countries are generally closing the wage gap with their male peers and are more likely to go to work compared to a decade ago. However, the share of women in full-time employment has declined and female unemployment has increased slightly on average.

One striking result from our research is that the overall progress of the average OECD country has slowed since the great recession, but it hasn’t stopped countries like the Netherlands, Germany and Israel, which nevertheless made significant gains between 2007 and 2011.

[Click the image to view a larger version]

Source: PwC analysis of data from the OECD, Eurostat, Australian Bureau of Statistics and Statistics Bureau of Japan

Our index makes clear that though improvements have been made in the past, much more needs to be done. Women account for the majority of university graduates in OECD nations, and yet the transition from education to paid work reveals the inequalities that women face in the labour market. Female labour participation rates have remained 17 percentage points lower compared to men for the average OECD country in 2011. Women still find it challenging to climb the career ladder and this is most apparent in the lack of visible role models: only 10% of board members in the OECD are women, and female top-earners are paid 21% less on average than their male peers.

There is a clear business case for diversity, and perceiving it merely as a moral imperative risks missing the big picture. Research by Catalyst – a diversity think tank – shows that higher levels of female boardroom representation in Fortune 500 companies is associated with better financial performance, as indicated by return on sales, return on invested capital and return on equity. These findings are corroborated by a study by Eversheds, which show that companies with more female directors experienced better performance during the financial crisis.

Businesses and policymakers have a critical role to play in addressing the needs of female employees in areas like flexible working, childcare, female promotion pipelines and diversity goals. Clear targets and goals need to be set, and businesses must monitor and publish their progress. However, it is also important to reflect on the effect of corporate culture and working practices on all employees, not just women. Though family-friendly work practices are often targeted at women, there needs to be a shift away from the notion that women alone are responsible for familial responsibilities. Policies that enable employees to reconcile both work and family commitments will work only if both men and women take advantage of them.

Change will not come easy, but only by putting diversity at the heart of the business and policy agendas can the potential skills and talent of the  complete talent pool be harnessed.  Dennis Nally, Chairman of PwC International, Ltd. explores how discussing diversity implicitly – as an integral part of business and growth – will sustain momentum in the face of uncertain markets and help us to tap into the talent we desperately need.

For more information on the PwC Women in Work Index, please visit http://www.pwc.co.uk/the-economy/publications/women-in-work-index.jhtml

Yjt-jhYong Jing Teow is an economist in PwC's UK Economics and Policy team, with experience in macroeconomic research and analysis.  Find out more about Jing

John Hawksworth is Chief Economist for the UK and editor of the Economic Outlook publication, and many other reports and articles on macroeconomic and fiscal policy issues.  Find out more about John

They both contribute to our Economics in Business blog and have previously collaborated on the Women in work – UK slides down PwC rankings article (March 2013).

10 April 2013

Leaning In Together


Photo 1 Lean InLast week, I attended my first Lean In circle meeting at the British Consulate in San Francisco. Although a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II presiding over us imbued the meeting with a sense of gravitas, the event was full of vibrant, informative, and sometimes humorous stories of leaning in and leaning back. I’ll be writing about that truly unique experience in an upcoming blog, but in the meantime, asked my friend and colleague Jennifer Allyn to express her takeaways from the book.

Jennifer is an avid reader (I love holding impromptu book clubs with her when I’m in our New York office) as well as a leading national expert in diversity whose previous Mad Men piece you all raved about. I was so pleased when she sent me today’s guest blog, which I believe brings new insight to the conversation Lean In has ignited around the world — enjoy.



In 2008, PwC hosted a panel discussion about women and ambition in our New York office. We surveyed the audience of 150 partners, staff and guests to understand their perception of the word “ambitious.” While 94 percent of the men said the term was positive, only 57 percent of the women agreed. Instead a quarter of the women—and strikingly, none of the men—felt ambition was a negative word. Fast forward to today: Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, has ignited a national debate about why this gender gap exists and what women can do to “lean in” to leadership. It’s an important conversation that I hope will inspire PwC women to aim even higher, but as our panelists demonstrated personal drive is only part of what it takes to have a successful career. The other elements of the equation are opportunity and recognition. That’s why coaches need to lean in too, and use the insights in Sandberg’s book to help close the gender gap in leadership.

The full version of this video appears at the end of this article

An entire chapter of Lean In is devoted to advising women to “sit at the table.” Sandberg tells a story about hosting a meeting where a group of women literally sit in chairs at the back of a conference room instead of joining the men seated at the table. She attributes this behavior to a lack of confidence where women underestimate their abilities and feel they don’t belong.

How can we make sure women sit at the table? It turns out encouragement is critical. In a study Photo2 Lean Inabout politics, researchers found that female politicians were much more likely to have run for public office because someone encouraged them to do so, while men “self-started” without that support. As Marie Wilson, founder of the White House Project, noted in our panel, “Women don’t run [for office] … unless somebody calls them and says, ‘have you thought about running?’ … so encouragement is huge.” The same dynamic operates in the workplace and here coaches, managers, and engagement partners play a vital role in encouraging women to take on leadership. Instead of waiting for staff to volunteer or promote themselves, leaders can take the following actions:

  • Randomly assign team members to lead internal meetings
  • Rotate who attends client meetings and delivers presentations
  • Explicitly invite women to compete for opportunities and illustrate why you think they are qualified for the role
  • Don’t assume someone is not interested in an assignment because they didn’t ask for it

These simple steps can make a big difference because true confidence is built through successful performance and you can’t perform without opportunities.

Lean In is full of research findings and one of the most disturbing is the Heidi/Howard experiment. Students were given a Harvard Business School case describing how an entrepreneur named Heidi Roizen used her real-life network to succeed in business. Half the students read the original story about Heidi, while the other half received a version with the protagonist’s name changed to Howard. Although the facts were identical, both male and female students liked Howard better; they didn’t want to work for Heidi because she was considered too self-promoting. The researchers conclude that “success and likeability are positively correlated for men and negatively correlated for women.” 

As Anna Fels, author of Necessary Dreams:  Ambition in Women’s Changing lives, told our audience, “When women assume leadership positions, unlike men, they get a lot of negative recognition. They get negative feedback about their femininity…about their style.” This double standard in how we recognize achievement is clearly one of the reasons so many women view ambition as a negative word.

Sandberg advises women leaders to let go of wanting to be liked. However, supervisors — male and female — also have a responsibility to question comments like she’s “too aggressive” or has “sharp elbows.” Merely asking whether the same behavior would be described that way if demonstrated by a man sends a powerful signal. The journalist Anna Quindlen once wrote that we want our women leaders to be “tough as nails, and warm as toast.” Naming that double bind, and recognizing the impossibility of displaying both qualities at the same time, is an important step to eliminating it.

The business case for gender diversity is clear for our profession. In the U.S. women earn the majority of college degrees and represent half our new hires each year. Bob Moritz outlines the role CEOs can play, but you don’t need to be a senior leader to create change. Each of us can profoundly influence the aspirations of the people who work with and for us. If we want women to lean in we need to help cultivate those dreams. Treating ambition as a collaboration, where coaches are an integral part of the process, will help PwC maximize the talents of all our people.

Jennifer Allyn photo_red

Jennifer Allyn is a managing director in PwC’s U.S. Office of Diversity, where she is responsible for designing programs to retain, develop and advance women.

Read about PwC Lean In experiences here: Maria Castañón Moats, Diana Weiss, Carol Sawdye, Terri McClements, Laura Cox Kaplan

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27 March 2013

Crafting your career – ten great pieces of advice from mothers all over the world

Since our last blog post a couple of pivotal things have happened to celebrate women.  Of course, there was International Women’s Day (IWD), but also here in Ireland Mothers Day fell on 10 March this year.   As shared in our 8 March blog, our firms around the network celebrated IWD in many different ways, while globally we focused our efforts on our own unique theme for the day – Gender, generation and leadership: supporting the millennial woman craft her career. 

Thousands of people have already visited the various resources we created to support this theme and foster a broader conversation on gender diversity.  There is something for everyone -- whether you’re a millennial woman, a talent leader, a mentor, a parent, or a CEO, so if you haven’t already – why not check it out

In addition we marked IWD by giving all of our talent the opportunity to take part in a PwC network-wide discussion by posing the question – Crafting your career, what’s the best piece of advice you ever received from a woman?

This proved to be a great exercise, one that certainly exceeded my expectations.  I expected great discussion that would help us to better understand the contribution that all of the women in our peoples’ lives have made to both their own success and the success of PwC.  But what I hadn’t really appreciated was that in essence this exercise would create what I can only refer to as ‘repository of development advice’ that our talent can take something from, be it IWD, or any other day of the year.

The fact that I celebrated Mothers Day with my mum the Sunday after IWD did not influence how I viewed all the advice shared.  Mothers Day or not, a clear theme emerged - nearly half of the great advice our male and female talent received came from women in their family (see poll results below), but in particular from mothers all over the world.


I couldn’t help but feel compelled to let all those mothers out there know how influential they have been to careers, but also, to share some of this great advice further. 

 So I am very happy to share with you today, ten of the great pieces of advice shared as part of our internal discussion to mark IWD.

Advice from mothers in Australia:

Australian PM
Pictured: Manuela Schmid, PwC Australia and Julia Gillard, Prime Minister, Australia
  • “Most people say no, and then think about it.  We need to say yes, and then think about it. 
    Have no regrets…..
  • One day many years ago I was thinking about giving up on something that I thought was impossible to accomplish – my mother simply asked me “Why can’t it be you?” Those wise words have stuck with me forever, and I often ask myself the question in my personal and professional life.  Be that when I’ve been pursuing that promotion or buying my first home.  I met the Prime Minister of Australia this morning, and while I was sitting there deciding if we should go up and ask for a photo, guess what I said to myself – “Why can’t it be me to have a photo with the PM?”

Advice from a mother in Austria

  • Sometimes it can be easy to feel nervous or intimated when meeting senior leaders in business.  My mom always told me to remember that “everybody puts their pants on one leg at a time”.  I always remember this and it helps me have confidence no matter who I am dealing with.

Advice from a mother in China

  • When I think about some of the most valuable advice I have received throughout my career, I have to pay homage to my mother who always told me “you have the right to voice your opinion, and you have the responsibility to respect the opinion of others”. 

Advice from a mother in Hong Kong

  • Growing up as a child my mother always told me that “we can change our future simply by changing our attitude”.  This advice has stood me in good stead over the years.  In all careers we face challenges or problems at different times.  Instead of letting problems get me down, I see each problem as a hurdle with hidden opportunities. In my career this has led me to embrace change and become a stronger person. 

Advice from a mother in India

  • “Enjoy your journey, don’t worry about your destination”

Advice from mothers in the Middle East

  • The best career advice I ever received was from my mother who said “Move on, don’t let a set-back dishearten you.  Learn from it, and you can forge ahead”.
  • “Never let anyone decide what you can’t do”

Advice from mothers in the UK

  • I remember as a small child not wanting to go to a party.  My mum told me “it’s often the parties that you don’t want to go to that turn out to be the best, don’t miss out on an opportunity, you’ll never know what you missed”.  I have always tried to embrace that idea since, so now if there are things outside my comfort zone that I’m reluctant about, I always think of this advice, take a deep breath and dive in.   And my mum was right, many of the best things that have happened in my career are because I did exactly that. 
  • I remember my mum telling me “you don’t need to ask anyone but yourself if you are making the right decision – but bear in mind that every morning when you get up you will have to look at yourself in the mirror and you had better like what you see” which was a nice way of reminding me that I would have to live with my decisions, but perhaps more importantly has been a critical guide as I have shaped my career and helped me become the authentic leader I feel that I am today

My own mum has always told me to make sure I enjoy what I do, and when you are getting to share inspiring advice from women all over the world, well, it is hard not to.  I hope this blog inspires you to think about the great advice you have received from women that helped you craft your own career and how you can share it further.