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19 June 2008

“There’s a special place in hell …”

“… for women who don’t help other women”, said Julia Cleverdon at last week’s First Women Awards,  quoting former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and being applauded loudly for doing so.  In a room full of women and oh yes, some men too, including actor Bill Nighy, we saw Julia collect her award for her contribution to the Public Sector through her work with Business in the Community

PwC’s own Moira Elms was pipped at the post in the Business Services category, a disappointment which was matched by nobody at the PwC table winning the lucky raffle ticket which gave a £4,000 spending spree at Selfridges.  Ah well.  At least at this event, the ladies’ toilets were open and available. PwC UK’s Sarah Churchman had a wonderful moment in the spotlight when she joined Bill Nighy on stage to present the PwC sponsored Lifetime Achievement Award to fashion designer Nicole Farhi.  And I was introduced to the inimitable Baroness Betty Boothroyd, the first female Speaker in the British House of Commons, who informed us that she was “no good at public speaking” but threw in a few mentions of “Order, ORDER!” for old times’ sake, as she used to shout at unruly MPs in Parliament.

I’ve recently joined the Advisory Board of International Women of Excellence and I attended my first board meeting a few weeks ago.  What appealed to me about IWE was both the blend of organisations who participate in their events (IBM, Volvo, BAE Systems, ING, to name but a few), the diversity of the activities (workshops, dinners, meetings, all with great speakers), and also the fact that they hold their events in both mainland Europe and the UK. Last week saw Volvo hosting a workshop in Sweden, there have previously been events in Germany and Switzerland and we’ll be in London, Glasgow and Amsterdam later this year.  Send me an email with “IWE” in the subject line if you’d like to be added to their mailing list, and receive a copy of the newsletter (featuring articles by writers such as Alison Maitland and details of future activities.  Connecting back to the FW Awards, it was good to see IWE members recognised; IBM won the Corporate Award, and Rosalind Murray of BAE Systems Submarine Solutions won the Manufacturing category.

Last week’s social whirl continued with a fascinating PwCWomen UK event on sustainability.  I’m a member of the UK firm’s PwCWomen steering group and I try to go to all of the quarterly events if I can, travel schedule permitting.  Sustainability is also one of the themes of this year’s Women’s Forum in France, and so I was particularly interested to hear more about this topic, given that Gender Advisory Council sponsor Sam DiPiazza is the 2008/09 Chair of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and the UK firm, together with many other PwC territories, is developing a lot of expertise in this area. 

Andrew Smith, who co-leads the UK firm’s sustainability practice, started with the very telling words that: “… if you look into the eyes of a climate scientist, there’s a hint of panic …” and then went on to share the details of what both PwC UK is doing as a firm to be more environmentally aware and also how the sustainability practice works with clients.  I’ll be able to provide an update very soon as to how PwC’s knowledge of sustainability is connected to the Women’s Forum in France but, until then, here’s a photo showing both sides of the cotton bags which we were given as gifts at the PwCWomen event (click image to enlarge):


I really love this bag and have been using it constantly over the last week.  It’s small,  light and folds up into a small bundle in the bottom of my handbag, meaning that I can always have it to hand and can thus avoid taking a plastic carrier bag (which can, apparently, take anything between twenty and a thousand YEARS to decompose) when I’m out shopping.

I have THREE of these bags to give away and will send them to the senders of the best emails which contain your ideas of what you would like to change to improve your work place environment, or with stories of what you are currently doing to improve the sustainability of our planet.  I look forward to receiving your emails

Finally, PricewaterhouseCoopers is ten years old next month – that’s when we celebrate the merging in 1998 of Price Waterhouse and Coopers & Lybrand.  To mark this event, we are running a charity campaign, in conjunction with the United Nations Refugee Agency, to build schools, train teachers, and provide educational supplies for more than 20,000 Darfur refugee children.  This project is called the PwC Power of 10 - please visit the website to learn more about this vital project and, if you can, to make a donation.  The campaign runs until June 27th 2008.

Thank you.

Until next time,



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