13 July 2017

Seed crowdfunding: Unleashing female entrepreneurial potential

I am so excited to share that this week PwC together with The Crowdfunding Centre launched our joint report, Women Unbound: Unleashing female entrepreneurial potential. This report explores the experience of women in achieving finance raising success through seed crowdfunding compared with more traditional finance raising routes.

The report brings to the fore a lot of powerful and scary insights and opportunities. For example, while challenges like the gender leadership gap and the gender pay gap receive widespread media attention, the barriers that female-led businesses and entrepreneurs face in accessing finance have been much less visibly reported. For me personally being part of this research process was certainly somewhat of a rude awakening.

The fact is most decision makers in the venture capital industry are male, and research shows that male entrepreneurs are 86% more likely to be venture capital funded than their female counterparts, and 59% more likely to secure angel investment. Meanwhile, a $300 billion financing gap exists globally for formal, women-owned small businesses, and 70% of women-owned small and medium sized enterprises have inadequate or no access to financial services.

One thing is clear, female entrepreneurs receive less than male entrepreneurs through traditional funding channels and this funding gap is a missed opportunity. Investing in or supporting women-led business has the potential to deliver some of the highest-returns – for investors and societies. Take for example the UK, if they could match US levels of female entrepreneurship they could potentially add £23 billion gross value add to their economy.

What the data in this Women unbound report shows clearly is that when women choose to access crowdfunding they are more than capable – and very often more capable than men. Thanks to crowdfunding, female entrepreneurs can now access the market directly – and this makes a huge difference because when they do, female crowdfunders are 32% more successful than their male counterparts.

The report analysed data from over 450,000 seed crowdfunding campaigns, from nine of the largest crowdfunding platforms globally over a two year period.

What the analysis told us is that men clearly crowdfund more than women, 72% of crowdfunders globally were male compared with 28% who were women. Yet, globally, women are more successful at crowdfunding than men: 22% of campaigns led by a women reached their target, compared to 17% of those led by men. And this is not a collective anomaly, women-led campaigns performed better (in terms of securing their funding goals) than campaigns led by men when we segregated the data for every sector and every territory.

Even in what are considered more masculine sectors, for example technology where just one in every ten crowdfunders is female, 13% of women were successful in achieving their funding goal compared to just 10% of men.

Women Unbound

So despite their clear underrepresentation, women are more successful at crowdfunding than men. But why is this?

The main factor seems to be because crowdfunding attracts, enables and empowers far more female decision makers as project backers. In essence, just like the dominance of male representation in traditional financing channels can create barriers for women, the more gender-level playing field of the crowd provides one explanation for why women are more likely to succeed at crowdfunding than men.

Female crowdfunders also tend to use more emotional and inclusive language in their videos and pitch descriptions than men.  This language is more appealing both to female and to male backers and positively correlated to funding success. While the use of business language, the style typically favoured by male crowdfunders, has been shown to be negatively correlated with money raised irrespective of what product or service is being pitched.

Yet, while women are outperforming men in achieving their funding targets across the board, the fact remains that significantly more men are crowdfunding than women, and as result, men raise substantially more finance via this channel. Men are also more ambitious in establishing higher funding goals than their female counterparts and we see them dominate in the highest funded campaigns by sector.

Women Unbound

In fact, while there were 63 campaigns that raised over $1 million, only seven of these were led by women (11%), with the most funded campaign created by a woman placing number 18 on the list. However, progress is being made, 2014 data illustrates that only 7% of campaigns raising over $1million were led by women, and the most funded campaign created by a woman placed 37 on the list. On another positive note, on average female-led campaigns receive 5% more per individual pledge globally than male-led campaigns.

Despite this, significant opportunity still remains for women to become more active and represented in crowdfunding and to be more ambitious when establishing their finance raising goals.

I truly hope that the success of female crowdfunders highlighted in this report inspires and motivates more budding and established female entrepreneurs to explore crowdfunding.

Overall, the findings of our Women unbound report pose a strong challenge to existing entrepreneurial and business norms by seriously questioning whether there are deep-rooted biases that are preventing greater access to funding  by female entrepreneurs. It is extremely positive to see that the growth and global reach of seed crowdfunding presents several major opportunities, each with the potential for major social and economic impact. Including the understanding and acceptance that seed crowdfunding is now a well-established environment through which women can thrive.

Learn more about these opportunities by reading our Women unbound report or visit our data explorer to check out the geographical and sector crowdfunding trends for yourself.


Aoife Flood, PwC Based in Dublin, Ireland, Aoife Flood is Senior Manager of the Global Diversity & Inclusion Programme Office for PwC 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 ‘Winning the fight for female talent’, ‘Moving women with purpose: Creating gender inclusive global mobility’, ‘The female millennial: A new era of talent’, and 'The PwC diversity journey: Creating impact, achieving results’ thought leadership publications. Most recently Aoife also co-authored PwC’s crowdfunding focused Women unbound publication.

Aoife is also co-author of our Global Gender Agenda blog. You can learn more about Aoife here or find her on twitter: @AoifeRFlood.

12 June 2017

PwC marches with Pride

This June, literally millions of people in countries across the world will be celebrating Pride and we are pleased to share that PwC leaders and employees will be amongst them. PwC will be marching with Pride as we actively sponsor buses, boats, floats and banners in Pride parades across the world, for example, in: Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, the UK and the US. And here in my native Ireland we’ll be sponsoring the Pride parades in Dublin and Belfast for the first time, which is very exciting.

We’ll also be profiling some of our fantastic out leaders and role models to create awareness of the value that difference, being yourself and inclusiveness all bring.  Why not check out the career experiences and advice of just some of our gay female leaders: Susan Siegmund, Audit Partner with PwC US, Janet Visbeen, Tax Partner with PwC Netherlands and Jennifer Johnson, Risk Assurance Services Leader, PwC Canada. And watch this space as we’ll be sharing the experiences of Liesbeth Botha, Digital Transformation Leader, PwC Africa and Ruth Punter, Employment Tax and Strategy Director, PwC UK later this month on The Glass Hammer.

In the meantime, we’d like you to learn more from Laura Hinton, PwC Head of People and [email protected] Ambassador for PwC UK, on why sponsoring Pride in London is important to our UK firm.




Why sponsoring Pride in London is not just the right thing to do – but great for our business, our people and our clients

By Laura Hinton, PwC Head of People and [email protected] Ambassador

On 8th July, tens of thousands of people will join the Pride in London parade – and up to a million more will take to the streets in celebration – as London comes together to voice its support for diversity and inclusion in general, and the LGBT+ community in particular.

Pride in London is a fantastic event that gets bigger and better every year. It’s now one of the largest Pride celebrations worldwide and among the biggest annual events in London. And at this year’s Pride in London parade, PwC will not only be represented by many of our people proudly walking the route, but we’ve also become of a major sponsor for the first time.  I know that our people take great pride and encouragement in such public demonstrations of the firm’s commitment to LGBT+ inclusion.

What’s more, our involvement with Pride in London is only one part of our support for the Pride movement across the UK. This year we are also marching in the Pride parades in Leeds and – for the first time – Belfast, and in May marched in Birmingham Pride. At every event, we’re proud to be demonstrating our commitment to the values at the heart of Pride.

In fact, those values are closely aligned with the values that lies at the heart of PwC. And as well as being the right thing to do, supporting Pride also makes good business sense – generating benefits that flow through to all our people, our clients, and our success as a firm.

Why? Because the whole inclusivity agenda is absolutely critical to what we’re all about, both individually and collectively. It goes to the core of who we are and our ability to deliver on our purpose – “To build trust in society and solve important problems.” And it’s in looking to build this trust that Pride and PwC are closely aligned.

Let me explain. We’re living in an era when society at large has lost trust in business – particularly big business. But even as a big business, PwC is really a collection of humans living and working in our communities. There’s a widespread perception that big businesses like ours are siloed from the rest of society, but that really isn’t the case: we’re part of our communities, and our goal is to be every bit as diverse and inclusive as they are.

Pride in London and other events could become even more important to individuals and corporates that want to stand up for diversity. As such, this year’s Pride in London in July could see even greater numbers of participants and visitors to the Parade, as well as more vocal support from corporates.

Our support for Pride helps us demonstrate our commitment to being inclusive, by developing a working environment where difference of all types is truly valued. Our determination to create such as workplace is embedded in our people strategy. We aim to empower our people to be the best they can be and realise their full potential. But we know they’ll only be able to do those things if they can truly be their real selves at work.

If people are working in an environment where they can be open about who they are and what’s happening in their life at home, then they’ll be happier at work. Happier employees are more productive, more engaged, and more likely to go the extra mile for our clients – in turn improving our client delivery and relationships.

The benefits of a diverse and inclusive workplace go further. Having a diverse range of views and perspectives makes for better decisions. Inclusivity brings us more vibrant teams, richer debates, and better answers to the problems we’re looking to solve for clients. Which makes us a better business.

Put all this together, and the benefits that spring from inclusivity add up to a pretty compelling list. Making better decisions. Enabling our people to fulfil their potential. Connecting more deeply with our communities. And strengthening the vital trust with society that we – in common with all other businesses – depend on.

Our support for Pride helps us achieve all these things. Sure, it’s the right thing to do. But it’s also much, much more than that.

05 May 2017

Women in Work – The potential $2 trillion prize from closing the gender pay gap

Authored by Yong Jing Teow and Shivangi Jain

The fifth annual update of the PwC Women in Work Index shows a continued positive trend towards greater female economic empowerment across the OECD. 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.

Half of the countries on the Index have maintained their position in the rankings from the previous year. Some have made significant improvements – Poland in particular, stands out for having achieved the largest annual improvement, rising from 12th to 9th place. This was driven by a falling female unemployment rate and increasing share of women in full-time jobs. While Norway has retained its position amongst the top 3, an increase in female unemployment has meant that its absolute Index performance has slipped.

One key area critical to achieving gender parity is the gender pay gap. Our research finds that the gender pay gap across the OECD is gradually closing, from 19% in 2000 to 16% in 2015. However, there is still a lot more progress to be made – a simple extrapolation of historical trends suggests that the gender pay gap across the OECD might not close fully for almost a century, with some countries achieving parity earlier than others.

Figure 1: Time to close the gender pay gap



Source: PwC analysis using OECD and Eurostat data

What are the causes of the pay gap? Although direct discrimination (women getting paid less than men for the same work) is a factor, it does not fully explain the global gender pay gap. A study by Glassdoor showed that once the unadjusted pay gap (ranging 10-20% for a sample of advanced countries) is controlled for occupation, education, experience, location and company, the resulting adjusted pay gap falls to less than 10%. This global study shows that although direct discrimination is nevertheless an important factor driving the pay gap, other factors are also at work, namely the lack of female representation in higher paying jobs and industries.

Policies that directly address these factors can therefore have a substantial impact on the gender pay gap. For example, increasing the availability of affordable childcare can help narrow the gap by enabling greater female participation in the workforce. We show that higher performing countries are also associated with lower costs of childcare. Encouraging greater sharing of caring responsibilities, such as shared parental leave can also help more women return to work earlier following the birth or adoption or a child. Countries like Sweden have also taken it a step further by introducing “use-it-or-lose-it” entitlements, which have greatly increased take-up by fathers.

However, government policy alone cannot solve the problem, and must be supported by on-the-ground action by the business community to create change. Creating flexible working opportunities and making them more widely available can enable employees to manage their family commitments around work. This can also open up channels for female career progression where traditionally performance is measured based on inputs such as working hours, rather than outcomes. “Returnship” programmes also help women as well as men transition back into the workplace post-career break (for example, to care for children).

Many studies have already highlighted the benefits from increasing diversity in leadership positions. To reinforce the business case, our analysis has identified substantial economic gains from closing the global gender gap: achieving pay parity across the OECD could increase total female earnings by almost US$2 trillion. The multiplier effects from this additional spending could generate an even larger boost to GDP. With such a large prize on offer, there is a clear incentive for governments and businesses to work together to address the deep-rooted causes of the global gender pay gap.

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

Teow Yong Jing Teow is an economist in the Economics & Policy practice within PwC Strategy& where she specialises in measuring economic impacts and advising clients on the impact of public policy. As a young female professional, she has a close personal interest in ensuring that all professional women are able to achieve their career ambitions and realise their full potential. She is the lead author of the Women in Work Index, PwC’s annual assessment of female economic empowerment across OECD countries, where she applies her impact assessment experience to articulate the gains from improving economic empowerment for women.
Jain Shivangi Jain is an economist in the Economics & Policy practice within PwC Strategy&. She has experience in macroeconomic analysis and in economic impact assessment and public policy development across a range of sectors including transport and health. She has co-authored the latest two annual editions of the PwC Women in Work Index. She believes that while opportunities for women in the workplace have been growing, albeit more rapidly in some countries than in others, there is still a long way to go in achieving gender equality in the workplace. This can be advanced through further research in this area.

20 April 2017

The Inclusiveness Imperative

At a time when technology appears to be taking over the workplace, PwC’s most recent Global CEO Survey indicates that people power is reaching new heights.

CEOs are continuing to struggle to find the talent they need, and 77% are concerned that a shortage of key skills could impair their company’s growth, up from 58% in 2013. In particular, the skills that are most important – and often the hardest to find – are uniquely human capabilities, such as adaptability, problem-solving, collaborative skills, empathy and creativity and innovation.


It seems that we’re witnessing a move away from high demand for what were traditionally masculine traits, and a shift towards leadership skills that are more intuitively female, such as collaboration. Interestingly, research shows that female leaders throughout organisations tend to be more effective than their male counterparts in demonstrating collaboration and problem solving, and in fostering innovation – all of which are among the key skills that CEOs are struggling to find.

I was also intrigued by recent research which highlights that women are better leaders than men; and with this in mind I think it’s critical I highlight that talent and diversity discussions cannot be about which gender makes the better leader. The discussion instead needs to be one that recognises the best business results will come through the ability to identify, harness and blend the different capabilities and strengths that diverse leadership teams offer.

Personally, what speaks to me most about adaptability, collaboration, creativity, empathy and leadership – these uniquely human and high-in-demand capabilities – is that they are all skills at the centre of being an inclusive professional. And if you haven’t realised it already, it’s time to get to grips with the fact that the ability to foster inclusiveness and manage across difference are only set to become more important capabilities for both businesses and talent.

The modern employer and employee will need to be able to manage a myriad of differences. Differences such as: gender, age and cultural diversity. Distinct personality types and an assortment of many different working patterns as flexibility demands accelerate from both men and women across the globe. All combined with a focus on working with talent with many different skills and experiences as businesses seek to innovate and capitalise on the technology opportunity.  And this management of a myriad of talent differences of course all takes place against the backdrop of businesses trying to serve and attract new and different customer segments, enter and compete in new and different geographies and adapt to new business areas.

The common theme across all facets of business is a move towards responding to, engaging with and managing greater levels of difference and diversity. It is no wonder that CEOs cite skills that place inclusion at their core as those most in-demand. There is no doubt about it, the inclusion imperative is ramping up and inclusiveness skills will continue to become increasingly important for talent to develop and for businesses to foster.

In a nutshell attracting difference and fostering a culture with the capability to embrace and maximise this talent diversity is critical for organisations looking to gain competitive advantage, foster innovation and be a talent magnet to the modern workforce.


Aoife Flood, PwC Based in Dublin, Ireland, Aoife Flood is Senior Manager of the Global Diversity & Inclusion Programme Office for PwC 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 ‘Winning the fight for female talent’, ‘Moving women with purpose: Creating gender inclusive global mobility’, ‘The female millennial: A new era of talent’, and 'The PwC diversity journey: Creating impact, achieving results’ thought leadership publications.

Aoife is also co-author of our Global Gender Agenda blog. You can learn more about Aoife here or find her on twitter: @AoifeRFlood.

08 March 2017

We are on the cusp of an escalating fight for female talent. Is your organisation prepared?

Did you know we’re seeing a tidal wave of organisations across the world injecting greater urgency into their efforts to tackle gender imbalances in the workplace? In fact, 87% of CEOs across the world are now focused on talent diversity and inclusion, up from 64% just two years ago. And explicit hiring targets have emerged as a core driver in fulfilling these ambitions with 78% of large organisations telling us they’re actively seeking to hire more women – especially into more experienced and senior level positions.

As organisations fight to attract female talent – particularly at levels and in sectors where they’re currently underrepresented – we’re now seeing competition for female talent escalate to a whole new level.

Is your organisation prepared to respond to this fight for female talent?

This Wednesday, 8 March, International Women’s Day (IWD) will be celebrated across the globe. At PwC we are marking the event by releasing our Winning the fight for female talent research paper. With a view to finding out more about the career aspirations and diversity experiences and expectations of the contemporary worker, we surveyed almost 4,800 professionals – including 3,934 women – in over 70 countries. In parallel, we also elicited the views of 328 executives with responsibility for diversity, HR or recruitment to explore the current diversity practices and trends across organisational employer brand, attraction and selection activities. IWD2017

Here are eight positive research findings revealed in our Winning the fight for female talent report.

  1. Organisations are very focused on finding and attracting female talent. Eighty percent of organisations have aligned their diversity and recruitment strategies and 78% of large organisations are actively trying to hire more women.
  1. The efforts invested by organisations are achieving results, 71% of employers who said they’d adopted diversity practices said these were having a positive impact on their recruitment efforts, by way of increased levels of female applicants and female hires.
  1. Men and women want the same things. Opportunities for career progression, competitive pay and a culture of work-life balance come out as the three most attractive employer traits for both men and women.
  1. Women today, want much more from their careers. Female career starters and female millennials rank opportunities for career progression as their most attractive employer trait. And experienced female professions who had recently changed employers, said the top reason they left their former employer was because of a lack of opportunities for career progression.
  1. Organisations are focused on embedding diversity in their employer brand, 76% of organisations said they’ve done this, rising to 88% for large organisations. But it will be critical they do more than just talk about diversity.
  1. Women want organisations to WALK their diversity talk. When deciding whether to work for an employer, 56% of women said it was important to them that the employer publicly shares its progress on diversity, for example increased levels of workforce or leadership diversity.
  1. Women want to see what they can be. When deciding to accept their most recent position 67% of women explored if they felt the organisation has positive role models similar to themselves, and for female career starter this figure rises to 76%.
  1. Two thirds of women said they negotiated with their employer on salary when accepting their most recent position, and 37% were successful in increasing the initial salary offer (67% and 39% for men).

While there are certainly lots of positive messages to be celebrated the report also highlights that there remains a lot for organisations to do to achieve the diversity edge through gender inclusive recruitment.

We’d like to invite you to find out more by visiting www.pwc.com/femaletalent where you can download the full report or an interactive executive summary.


Aoife Flood, PwC Based in Dublin, Ireland, Aoife Flood is Senior Manager of the Global Diversity & Inclusion Programme Office for PwC 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 ‘Winning the fight for female talent’, ‘Moving women with purpose: Creating gender inclusive global mobility’, ‘The female millennial: A new era of talent’, and 'The PwC diversity journey: Creating impact, achieving results’.

Aoife is also co-author of our Global Gender Agenda blog. You can learn more about Aoife here or find her on twitter: @AoifeRFlood.

09 February 2017

Women returners: The £1 billion career break penalty for professional women

By Yong Jing Teow and Priya Ravidran

As part of PwC Strategy& Economics & Policy practice I play a key role in a range of diversity-related research we release each year. As a female economist, I am particularly passionate about our Women in Work Index. The latest edition shows that the UK has made significant strides in improving female labour market outcomes over the years. Despite this, our most recent research shows there remains a significant source of underutilised potential in the UK: professional women returning from career breaks.

Many professional women, including directors, engineers, scientists, researchers, doctors, lawyers and accountants, will go on career breaks at some point in their lifetime; most often to care for children and, or family members.

Our study looks at how much professional women in the UK were underutilised following their career break.

There are around 478,000 professional women in the UK who are currently on a break. Many plan to return to work later on, but face significant challenges in the process. For example, a “CV gap” is assumed to be associated with a loss of skills, despite acquiring new ones (such as organisational and management skills) outside work. A US study found that 23% of women cited the stigma associated with having a CV gap as a barrier to re-entering the workforce.[1] Many also want to maintain some degree of flexibility over their working hours but there are insufficient roles, particularly at senior levels, that offer flexibility. These challenges mean that many women return to roles that are not commensurate with their skills and previous pay scales.

Our findings suggest that:

  • In total, two-thirds (or around 278,000) professional women could be working below their potential when they return to the workforce.
  • Three in five of these women (or 249,000 women) returning to the workforce are likely to move into lower-skilled or lower-paid roles.
  • 29,000 professional women returning to part-time work wish to work more hours but are unable to due to the lack of flexible full time roles.

As a result, women returners earn less and are less likely to hold senior positions, which perpetuates the lack of diversity in business leadership pipelines.

Addressing the career break penalty experienced by female professionals can deliver significant economic benefits. Our study shows that fully utilising the potential of women returners boosts earnings by £1.1 billion, or around £4,000 for each woman. The increased spending in the economy drives a further increase in output in the UK economy via the multiplier effect, generating an overall £1.7 billion boost to UK economy.

How can business help overcome the career break penalty? Here are some suggestions:

  • Reassess how candidates’ potential are evaluated and address the negative bias towards CV gaps.
  • Recognise flexibility is a talent wide proposition and foster a culture of flexibility for all roles, at all levels.
  • Explore opportunities for returnship programmes.

Returnships create an effective route back to mid- to senior-level professional roles, with transitional support to upskill and regain professional self-belief. Companies across various sectors have embraced return to work schemes and are attracting and hiring increasing levels of experienced female talent as result. The PwC UK Back to Business returnship programme is just one example of this.

Although our findings were specific to the UK, the benefits of harnessing the potential of women returners globally could be immense. It’s clear that there is a strong business case for improving diversity within business. Returning women at senior levels can help build a more diverse leadership pipeline, and studies show that increasing diversity at senior management levels is associated with improved company performance. It’s not only about the business: it’s also about giving returning women a fair deal so that they have the opportunity to succeed.

Find out more about our research on Women Returners and the Women in Work Index.

 [1] US Center for Work Life Policy study (2009)

Jing Yong Jing Teow is an economist in the Economics & Policy practice within PwC Strategy& where she specialises in measuring economic impacts and advising clients on the impact of public policy. As a young female professional, she has a close personal interest in ensuring that all professional women are able to achieve their career ambitions and realise their full potential. She is the lead author of the Women in Work Index, PwC’s annual assessment of female economic empowerment across OECD countries, where she applies her impact assessment experience to articulate the gains from improving economic empowerment for women.
Priya Priya Ravidran is an economist in the Economics & Policy practice within PwC Strategy&. She has experience in econometric analysis, economic impact assessment and public policy development across a range of sectors including transport, health and defence. She also contributes to other flagship publications including the UK Economic Outlook. She has an interest in gender research as she believes further initiatives in this area would result in greater equality and diversity in the workplace.

26 January 2017

Disrupting the status quo of gender roles

Interestingly, of the last three overseas flights that I’ve taken, two of the pilots have been female.

Back in November when the female captain announced herself, the male stranger sitting beside me looked at me puzzled and said “I didn’t know that women could be pilots”. I think I was too shocked to respond.  Thankfully, last Friday evening whilst returning from London the somewhat younger male gentleman sitting beside me didn’t seem to react at all when the female captain announced herself.

Well, not until, that is, the captain completed a go-around, which is an aborted landing at final approach.

Then he seemed to automatically look at me and say “female pilots” with a sighing expression. This time I didn’t hold my tongue and replied “I very much doubt that happened because the pilot is female”. About three minutes later she apologised for the sudden go-around on speaker, explaining there was an aircraft with technical problems sitting on the runway that couldn’t be cleared in time for us to land. I’ll admit the man in the seat beside me was the recipient of a somewhat jarring stare from guess who after this announcement.

What struck a chord with me was the blatant outdated views and stereotypes about women. Of course women can be pilots, and furthermore of course they can be excellent pilots. This personal frustration all seemed a bit serendipitous as it was only last Wednesday, 18 January, that Bob Moritz, Global Chairman, PwC, sat on a panel at Davos entitled ‘Disrupting the status quo of gender roles’.

During this panel Bob had the privilege of sitting beside some amazing female leaders, by way of the International Monetary Funds’s Christine LaGarde, entrepreneur Cynthia Castro, Panama’s vice president Isabel Saint Malo, and filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy.  All of whom along with Bob are determined to close the gender gap. It was a fantastic, robust and extremely powerful discussion. You can watch it here.

During the panel Bob Moritz voiced that gender equality is an issue for everybody, and that to make change disruptive leadership is required.  He also followed up his time on the panel by sharing a blog in which he reaffirmed that this is an issue we are committed to at PwC, and based on our efforts so far, he shared his top six strategies for disrupting institutional inertia around gender roles. You can read it here.

One of those six strategies is to challenge negative stereotypes. Ultimately stressing that we can all do our part by highlighting outdated stereotypes and reinforcing the realities of the modern workforce. “Stay-at-home dad,” for example, should raise no eyebrows. We can also help dismantle stereotypes with facts. And given my recent flying experiences I’d like to use this blog to focus on this a little bit further.

The sad truth is, that depending where you are in the world, there continues to be many outdated gender stereotypes that continue to have a negative influence both consciously and unconsciously on women across all forms of work institutions. It is important that we all play a part to highlight that these are outdated stereotypes, that gender roles are shifting, and that we reinforce the realities and personal and professional expectations of the modern workforce in order to debunk and depower the impact of such stereotypes.

For example, outdated stereotypes and the realities that debunk them, such as:

Women are not as qualified as men:
Female levels of workforce participation have never been higher and female enrolment in education has increased almost twice as fast as male enrolment since 1970. Globally, women now account for a majority of students in 93 countries while men are favoured in only 46, earn more bachelors’ degrees than men and have an edge over men of 56 to 44% in masters’ degrees.

Women are not career focused:
PwC’s research The female millennial: A new era of talent which surveyed over 9,000 female millennials (born 1980-95) from over 70 countries identifies that women are highly career ambitious, and that like their male counterparts, they rank opportunities for career progression as the most attractive employer trait. 

Men are the primary earner:
This same PwC research identified that the earning power and patterns of women in the workplace have also very much evolved. Eighty six per cent of female millennials that are in a relationship are part of a dual career couple. Furthermore, 42% of those earn equal salaries to their partner or spouse while almost one quarter are the primary earner in their relationships (24%). This means, 66% of female millennials earn equal to or more than their partner or spouse. Interestingly, as female millennials become more career experienced, the higher the likelihood they will earn more than their partner or spouse: 18% in first three years of their career compared with 31% with 9 or more years’ experience.

Women, in particular mothers, do not want to undertake international experience:
Research by Catalyst indicates that international experiences accelerates male and female careers further and faster yet the best and brightest female talent are being overlooked for these opportunities compared to their male peers. Women currently only make up 20% of the global mobility population despite unprecedented levels of female demand for international experience. In fact 71% of female millennials globally said they want to work abroad during their careers. Interestingly, PwC’s Moving women with purpose research identifies that women, men and global mobility executives all identify that ‘women with children do not want to undertake international assignments’ as a top barrier to greater levels of female representation in global mobility.


However, 41% of mothers compared with 40% of fathers indicated they want to undertake a global mobility experience. Interestingly, the mobility expectations of mothers and fathers is very different to their mobility realities. Forty per cent of men who had undertaken mobility in our research were fathers, compared with only 17% of women being mothers. This begs the question – it is clear that mobility demand from mums and dads is equal – so why are more mothers not getting these opportunities in reality?

We are challenged with a leaking pipeline of female talent that is limiting female progression towards leadership, because women leave work to care for their families:
There is a common and damaging assumption that the reason women form almost equal numbers of employers’ talent populations, yet decreasing numbers as you move up the seniority levels is because at a certain point, women opt out of their careers to have families.

In fact, over 9,000 female millennials from across the globe indicate that the top reason they have left or are considering leaving a former employer is because of a lack of opportunities for career progression.

Historically, at PwC, there was also a general perception that we needed to fix our leaking pipeline of female talent by driving programmes focused on the retention of women and that supported new mothers. However, when we applied rigorous analytics the data in fact revealed that: 1) Across the network, our women leave more than men at our most junior grades only – and at this point in their lives very few of these women are at the stage of starting a family. And, 2) at all other grades, our men actually leave more than our women. But we were replacing both our male and female leavers with predominately male experienced hires. This data-driven approach enabled us to debunk a common myth: that the equal gender representation at the graduate hire stage was not reflected at the top because, at some point during their career, our women were leaving to have families. In response to this insight, we have switched from a strategy focused on staunching a leaking pipeline of female talent, to an approach today under which we have identified diverse experienced hires as a critical KPI for global D&I acceleration. You can learn more about this learning and our approach in The PwC diversity journey.

Overall, the evidence is clear: in a nutshell, it is highly unlikely employers are faced with a leaking female pipeline because their female talent are opting out of their careers to have families.

Flexibility is a female or parental issue only:
PwC’s millennial research finds that while only 29% of millennials are married and 24% have children, 97% of both male and female millennials said that work life balance was important to them. Interestingly, “My work and personal life are out of balance. I want a role with more flexibility” was ranked as the second most likely reason for potentially leaving an employer; by both male and female millennials. With 41% of male millennials saying this was the case versus 37% of female millennials. Meanwhile, 44% of female millennials compared with 49% of male said they believe taking advantage of work-life balance and flexibility programmes has negative consequences at their workplace, and 63% of men and 50% of women said that while work life balance and flexibility programmes exist in their organisations they are not readily available to all.

Demand for flexibility and work life balance is talent wide, and comes from both men and women, and those who are and are not parents.

I hope that if you are reading this blog, you have perhaps learnt something new, but most of all that you feel inspired and empowered to disrupt the status quo and challenge negative gender stereotypes.


Aoife Flood, PwC Based 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 ‘Moving women with purpose: Creating gender inclusive global mobility’, ‘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 or find her on twitter: @AoifeRFlood.

11 January 2017

Inclusive recruitment – are employers getting it right? Have your say!

This week we bring you the exciting news that PwC has launched an #InclusiveRecruitment research study

There is no disputing that talent diversity is now widely acknowledged as both a business challenge and an opportunity, with CEOs identifying significant benefits arising from diversity and inclusion in their organisations: benefits such as enhanced business performance (85%), strengthened brand and reputation (83%) and more innovation (78%). So it is not surprising that diversity & inclusion continues to garner leadership focus, in fact 91% of employers now identify diversity as an organisational priority.

Employers are not alone in their heightened focus, did you know that 85% of millennial talent globally say an employer’s diversity and inclusion record is important to them when deciding whether or not to work for an organisation? And 71% said that while they feel organisations talk about diversity, they don’t think opportunities are really equal for all.


Well we want to know more: we want to understand the diversity expectations and experiences of talent who are starting out in their careers, who have recently moved employers and those who are currently active in the jobs market. So, if like the 85% of millennials across the globe, diversity and inclusion is important to you, have your say by completing our short survey today, and help to shape the inclusive talent strategies of tomorrow. You can play your part now and complete the survey by clicking here!

Our research objective is to help organisations – including ourselves – to better understand the diversity expectations and experiences of the modern workforce, and what this means for the development and delivery of transformational inclusive recruitment strategies. 

We’ll be sharing the findings of our research with you in early March, so watch this space!

Want to share this survey with someone you know? Just share the message below via your social media channels:

85% of #millennials say employer’s #diversity record is important when deciding to work for them. Feel the same? http://pwc.to/2j4B0tp


Aoife Flood, PwC Based 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 ‘Moving women with purpose: Creating gender inclusive global mobility’, ‘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 or find her on twitter: @AoifeRFlood.

23 December 2016

The gift of Building Gender IQ

As 2016 draws to a close it feels good to look back and feel proud of so many great PwC diversity achievements this year. Highlights for me definitely have to be the appointment of our most gender and geographically diverse Global Leadership Team to-date, amongst these ten men and nine women (47% female), ten nationalities are represented with a wealth of international experience between them.

Another highlight was our female partner admissions, for the third consecutive year these have increased, and this July we were very pleased to admit 177 new female partners (27% of total partner admissions). These results are testament to our ongoing diversity efforts and commitment.


Sharing the detailed story of our global D&I strategy externally for the first time in our The PwC diversity journey: Creating impact, achieving results publication is another of my highlights. Check it out here to learn more about our diversity journey and progress, D&I practices that are having an impact in PwC firms across the globe and our ten valuable lessons learned.

Of course leading the charge on our Moving women with purpose research is another of my definite highlights. Never did I think when I initiated this research study that it would throw up so many fascinating insights. Insights that all organisations, including PwC, have an opportunity to learn from and move the needle on the significant global mobility gender gap. If you haven’t read it already check it out here.

Continuing our work as a Corporate IMPACT 10x10x10 HeForShe Champion, the UN Women’s global solidarity movement for gender equality, has been another clear highlight. So far, 57,347 PwC partners and staff have made the HeForShe Pledge. And in late October we took the exciting step of launching a dynamic and interactive online course on gender equality today called Building Gender IQ.

Developed in partnership with world-class experts this 35 minute course addresses the root causes of gender inequality, as well as power dynamics and unconscious bias. For someone so steeped in the gender debate, even I found taking this course an eye opener. I think it provides everyone with an opportunity to more broadly understand the stereotypical ways people can typically view gender.

At PwC we see this course as a way to spark new conversations with the innovative curriculum designed to educate all people on the benefits of gender equality as well as the costs of inequality. After taking the course, which features both video-based expert lectures and individual activities, users have a much clearer picture that the benefits of equality are not only for women, but for all of society.

With people who’ve taken the course telling us it has made them feel more empowered to become advocates for gender equality in their homes, workplaces and communities, why don’t you join the almost 10,000 PwC employees who have already taken the course since it launched.

The course is available to everyone in the world, simply click here to access it (or here if you work for a PwC firm). In the words of Bob Moritz, Chairman PwC International Limited: “I would encourage everyone to spread the word, take the course, and turn it into an asset that enables change.” Or why not share the gift of building gender IQ with a colleague, friend or family member.

I sign off for 2016 with the amazing news that we’ll be continuing to accelerate our diversity efforts in 2017 under new leadership with the appointment of Sharmila Karve as our new Global Diversity Leader.


Sharmila brings a strong commitment to inclusion and a wealth of business knowledge and experience working with local and international clients and holding various leadership roles with PwC India to the role. Taking the reins from Agnès Hussherr, who I simply have to thank for been such a visionary, inspirational and amazing female role model and leader over the past three years. And I can’t wait for 2017 when the global D&I team and I get to be inspired and work with another amazing female role model, watch this space, you’ll be hearing more from Sharmila soon.

So from myself and the Global D&I team, we would like to sign off this last Gender Agenda blog for 2016 by wishing you all a fantastic holiday, no matter how you celebrate it, and a very happy New Year.  



Aoife bio

Based 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 ‘Moving women with purpose: Creating gender inclusive global mobility’, ‘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 or find her on twitter: @AoifeRFlood

16 December 2016

Women and Global Mobility: Spotlight on Asia Pacific

Happy December.

To our frequent readers, apologies we have been a little quiet of late, since the excitement of launching our The PwC diversity journey publication I’ve had quite the hectic work and personal life.

I’m pleased to share that my husband and I purchased our first house, after ten years of apartment living I didn’t realise how much I would enjoying having stairs again, and I will admit the whole process was as stressful as people say it is, much to my surprise. I’ve also had some interesting travel, including my first trip to Phoenix where I got to present on the topic of women and Global Mobility alongside ANZ’s Global Mobility Leader, Heather Williams and PwC US Partner, Kathy McDermott to lots of interested executives at PwC’s annual Global Mobility conference. Needless to say there was lots of interesting discussion and this was made all the more enjoyable by having the rare opportunity to feel some November sun on my face.

For those of you familiar with our Moving women with purpose research, it won’t come as a surprise that there currently exists a significant global mobility gender gap. In fact, despite unprecedented demand from women for international experience and assignments, women currently only account for 20% of international assignees across the globe. 

A little earlier this year, I had lots of fun recording my first ever podcast, which puts a spotlight on women and Global Mobility in the Asia Pacific region. It was very exciting sitting in PwC’s office at 5am on a Dublin morning to have a recorded discussion with fantastic women on the other side of the world in Australia and China. It just felt like a great phone chat, so I was amazed when a few weeks later we received an actual podcast.


And believe me there is reason to put a spotlight on women and mobility in the Asia Pacific Region. A significant 86% of female employees from the region saying they feel gaining international experience is critical to advancing their careers. They are also much less likely than their male peers to feel they have equal opportunity to undertake an international assignment with their current employers (18 point difference). And employers in the region really need to be aware of this female mobility demand; 77% of women in the region identified global mobility as a critical attraction tool, and 79% said the opportunity to complete a mobility experience would keep them from leaving an employer. When it comes to attraction and retention, global mobility plays a bigger role for women in this region by 11 and 12 points compared to female employees across the globe.

So if you want to learn more about women and mobility in the Asia Pacific region, or are a woman anywhere in the world interested in gaining international experience, tune into our podcast panel of female leaders and diversity and global mobility experts all of whom have extensive international experience between them to find out more. Joining me is Jane Cheung, Partner at PwC China, Abbie Cooke, Global Mobility Expert, PwC Australia and Susie Babani, the former Chief Human Resources Officer, ANZ bank.

Click here to listen or to download the podcast:  pwc.to/2d2cdoo



Aoife Flood, PwC Based 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 ‘Moving women with purpose: Creating gender inclusive global mobility’, ‘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 or find her on twitter: @AoifeRFlood.

19 September 2016

The ten valuable lessons we’ve learned on our diversity journey

Each year, we take a significant step forward in our diversity journey as PwC firms and people all over the world celebrate Global Diversity Week. This inspiring event features a wide-ranging series of initiatives and forums focused on diversity and inclusion, aiming to reach and engage every single PwC professional across the globe. I’m delighted to say that this week we’re celebrating our third annual Global Diversity Week, based on the theme Valuing difference: Driving inclusion.

I’m also excited to share with our Gender Agenda blog readers that as part of our Global Diversity Week activities this year, we’re breaking new ground by sharing the story of our diversity journey externally, with the release of our new publication The PwC diversity journey: Creating impact, achieving results. During our diversity journey we’ve learned a lot, and we’ve applied these lessons to constantly reshape our approach. As a result, we feel today that we’ve reached a comprehensive and efficient approach to diversity that lays the foundations for the sustainable progress we aim to achieve in the future.

This approach includes a number of milestone initiatives, such as aligning D&I more closely with our network business strategy and ensuring enhanced leadership accountability by introducing our Global Inclusion Index. You can find out much more about these activities and many others by downloading the report. But in the meantime, I’d like to use today’s blog to share with you our ten most valuable diversity lessons learned.  

Lesson 1: Tailor the business case, then make it resonate
Diversity is – of course – the right thing to do. But more than that, when optimised it presents the opportunity for many benefits in terms of business performance. So, while achieving diversity is a challenge, it also presents an opportunity that no organisation can afford to ignore. To make this message ‘real’, it’s essential to create a robust, organisation-focused business case that’s derived from – and geared to support – the success of the organisation’s business strategy. It is only through this approach that diversity will resonate with the leaders and people across a business. And in pursuing diversity, it’s also vital to recognise that one size does not fit all. What will motivate one leader to sponsor and act – business results, for example – may be very different from what will compel another, such as diversity being the right thing to do.

Lesson 2: Recognise there is no ‘quick fix’
With ever-increasing numbers of diverse talent entering the workforce, we have seen diversity catapult its way onto the CEO agenda in recent years. But despite this rise in awareness, visible progress is still not being achieved in many organisations. In trying to overcome this inertia, it is critical to understand that there’s no ‘quick fix’ solution to the challenge of diversity.

Demonstrable and sustainable progress can only be achieved through a comprehensive change management approach that tackles behavioural, process and cultural transformation. This is why we at PwC approach D&I through our holistic PwC D&I ecosystem.

Lesson 3: No leadership commitment, no accountability, no progress
Without the right levels of leadership commitment, and – even more importantly – the appropriate accountability infrastructure, it will be very challenging to move the needle on diversity in a sustainable way. Put simply, having leadership commitment to, and accountability for, D&I is critical. At PwC we achieve this through our established D&I governance structure and the PwC Global Inclusion Index.

Lesson 4: Use data analytics in planning the programme…
An approach driven by externally recognised leading practices might win diversity awards, but may not deliver meaningful progress. Transitioning from a leading practice-driven approach to a data-driven approach is fundamental in creating a D&I programme that tackles the actual rather than assumed barriers to diversity. And only when you understand and confront the actual barriers do you lay the groundwork for subsequent success.

Lesson 5: …and use data analytics in executing the programme
To make real progress, it is not enough to adopt what feel like creative and innovative policies or programmes, or to feel comfortable that you are getting things right because your practices are lauded externally as leading-edge. Instead, it’s fundamental that you identify and track robust, relevant KPIs to measure the success of any D&I intervention you initiate. To make visible, credible headway, organisations must stay focused on and be confident that they are driving critical interventions that really work.


Lesson 6: One size does not fit all cultures
When driving a global D&I strategy, trying to enforce a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach across all markets and areas of the business will not work. In fact, pushing an approach or programme that is not sensitive to local cultures may do more harm than good. Instead, the D&I strategy must take account of the nuances and variances that exist in business cultures across the globe. And diversity programmes will need to be driven with allowances for local context, in recognition of the fact that the challenges and appropriate change approach will be influenced by geography, and indeed by the cultural norms in different parts of the business. Given these requirements, the key is to focus on global consistency underpinned by local delivery. At PwC we try to get this right by encouraging localisation of our global D&I activities, making the transition to our ‘2+1’ approach to dimensions of diversity, and establishing a culture of local action planning and priorities in response to the realities of diversity in each PwC member firm.

Lesson 7: Embed D&I within organisational DNA
Sustainable progress will not be achieved if D&I is driven in a silo. D&I must be embedded within the DNA of an organisation, identified as fundamental to its success and naturally woven into the fabric of its business, customer and workforce strategies. This is not easy, and certainly won’t happen overnight. The paramount aim should be to achieve an active journey that engages and influences stakeholders across the organisation towards the goal of a business environment where D&I is an intuitive and implicit aspect of every discussion, activity, people and business process, and customer interaction.

Lesson 8: A focus on inclusion from day one
It can be very tempting to focus all diversity energy and resource on those areas where the most significant diversity gaps exist – which is typically at the top of an organisation. However, this type of highly targeted approach may have limited long-term impact.

Broad and sustainable progress across the organisation will only be achieved by combining a laser focus on leadership diversity with substantive action that drives an inclusive talent culture and talent systems from day one and from the ground up.

This means establishing critical interventions that work throughout the whole talent lifecycle. Without tackling the systemic challenges that arise earlier in the talent process, organisations will continue to face the same diversity gaps in the succession pipeline at the top.

Lesson 9: Recognise performance over presence
It is important that approaches to flexible working respond to the changing demographic make-up, expectations and needs of the modern workforce. Outdated views and approaches that associate flexibility with traditional stereotypes and don’t capitalise on technology must end. An organisational culture that recognises impact and performance over presence, and identifies flexibility as a talent-wide proposition, is an organisation where all talented people can thrive.

Lesson 10: Engage the masses
Commitment to diversity is becoming increasingly important for organisations to attract talent – and today’s talent want to see both a clear commitment to diversity and visible progress being made. Leadership commitment and the dedicated engagement of key stakeholders will take the organisation a long way on its diversity journey, but will not be enough to achieve true success. A D&I strategy needs to be inclusive of everyone. So organisations should engage every one of their people in their diversity journey, empower all of them to be agents for change, and share progress with them at every step along the way. Global Diversity Week is just one of the ways that we try to achieve this at PwC.

Embracing diversity and inclusion makes business sense, and even more importantly, we believe it’s the right thing to do. No one organisation has the sole right answer, but we hope that by sharing our thoughts, ideas, and programmes, we can contribute to a broader discussion – one from which we can all learn and benefit together, as we work collectively to make a positive impact on diversity around the world.

Happy PwC Global Diversity Week!


Aoife Based 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 ‘Moving women with purpose: Creating gender inclusive global mobility’, ‘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 or find her on twitter: @AoifeRFlood.

23 August 2016

‘Back to Business’ – the benefits of return to work programmes

By Angela Cooke

At PwC UK our ambition is to have a diverse workforce, with senior leaders reflecting the diversity seen throughout the rest of the UK firm and the world in which we operate.  While we are making progress, we know we need to do more.  

All of our business units have set gender and ethnicity targets to 2021 and we run sponsorship programmes for high potential females. But we know that recruitment is another way we can have a positive impact on those targets. 

So we launched ‘Back to Business’, an experienced hire return to work programme for senior professional women who have been out of the workplace for more than two years.   

Return to work programmes aim to help highly qualified and experienced individuals transition back into the workplace after a long career break, typically – but not exclusively – taken for childcare reasons.  Candidates get to work on client work appropriate to their existing skills and experiences and they are paid accordingly.  There is an opportunity to take up a permanent role at the end of the programme depending on their desire and performance. 

We decided to run a return to work programme in the UK for a number of reasons:

  • It is an innovative way to help our business meet the critical business need of increasing the proportion of women in senior roles.
  • It has enabled us to access a previously untapped talent pool of experienced senior individuals.
  • It is the right thing to do. Women who have had time out of the workplace, often find that they are overlooked by recruiters due to the gap in their CV. Our return to work programme has been designed to address their experience gap and provide another route to get talented senior women back into the workplace. 
  • The programme opens the door for women to see what it feels like to come back whilst leveraging a strong support network. It offers a valuable experience for women who are ready to restart their careers by giving them the opportunity to rebuild their professional confidence and skills in a supportive peer environment.

The programme was originally piloted in our Deals business which is traditionally a more male dominated area due to the image of long and unpredictable hours, and high client demands. And through this pilot we have learnt a lot.

What we have learnt:

  • Continued support from the senior people in the business is required to make significant cultural change happen. The partners involved in this process (and recruiters) have gained much more insight into the complex systemic issues around attracting and convincing women that Deals has a culture where they can be successful. This will have a positive impact on their future leadership approach.
  • Mindsets about flexible working can shift - one female partner believed at the beginning of the process that it would be very difficult to work flexibly in a deals environment. By the end of the recruitment process and after interviewing some good candidates who wanted to work flexibly, her opinion was different – ‘we will just make it work’.
  • An overwhelming theme emerging from interviewing the candidates was that the women were eager to return to work but recruiters overlook them because of the gap on their CV. The majority of candidates lacked confidence in their abilities as a result. This does require interviewers to be more open minded to really seek potential rather than the 'finished article and work ready' candidates that organisations typically recruit.

As a result of the success of the pilot, I am very pleased to share that 75% of the candidates on the pilot programme have now secured permanent roles within the UK firm. And we’ve now launched the return to work programme across the wider business increasing the number of positions we offer ten-fold.

Learning from our pilot experience we’ve also extended the length of the programme to 16 weeks so that the women have a longer period in which to demonstrate their skills.  And  we’ve also taken up a longer term view of our talent pipeline and opened up the programme to both managers and senior managers.

The success of our pilot programme demonstrates how important it is to adopt interventions in the system that can spark real change.

So if you are based in the UK and interested in our ‘Back to Business’ returnship why not learn more by clicking here or if you are interested in discussing the programme further please feel free to contact me.


IMG_9727 Angela Cooke is an experienced HR professional with specialist expertise in diversity, inclusion and employee wellbeing at PwC UK.  She works collaboratively with senior business leaders to help them create more inclusive and diverse working environments.  She leads PwC UK’s long term behaviour change campaign, ‘Open Mind’, which focuses on raising awareness of unconscious bias.  And she also works closely with the UK firm’s recruitment team, ensuring it is attracting and recruiting from as wide a talent pool as possible. 

She is a qualified business psychologist having gained a Master’s degree in Occupational Psychology and CIPD qualifications. Angela was also recently recognised by 'We are the City' as a Rising Star in HR and Recruitment.  


02 August 2016

Moving women with purpose: From trailing spouse to leading spouse and managing family on assignment

PwC’s recent Moving women with purpose research highlights that global mobility is in equal demand from both mothers and fathers. However, our research also shows that far fewer mothers actually experience mobility compared to fathers. And both women and men rank “women with children don’t want to go on an assignment” as the top barrier to higher levels of female representation in global mobility. These findings underline that organisations need to make sure they’re not overlooking female talent based on outdated gender stereotypes. Creating awareness of mothers with mobility experience is one small way to illustrate what assignees in your organisation look like, and overcome the effect of such stereotypes.

This week we bring you the final blog in our series from our guest PwC blogger, Sarah Morrin. In this closing instalment, Sarah shares more about her experiences of relocating with family, while also discussing how it felt to go from trailing spouse (Botswana) to leading spouse (the Middle East). 



Trailing spouse blues vs leading spouse pressures

It’s often said that that the real barometer of success for a mobility experience is marriage and family. While one spouse or significant other leads the move, it’s often their partner – the ‘trailing spouse’ – who experiences a higher degree of change, because they have to re-establish their life from scratch without the familiarity of company structures and work.

When we moved to the Middle East, I was the ‘leading spouse’ – a new experience after being the ‘trailing spouse’ previously. I quickly came to understand that being the leading spouse also brings pressures, not least because I’d brought my family somewhere new to further my own my career aspirations. For me it was eye-opening to see those initial struggles from the other side – including finding the right role and being reliant on your partner – and it was important for us to be understanding and supportive of each other. From a leading spouse perspective, this meant not only being encouraging but also actively seeking out and acting on advice and opportunities to share.

With our move to Botswana, I had been able to use my PwC contacts to find a job before we relocated. While my husband didn’t have these ‘pre-connections’ in the Middle East, he soon succeeded in finding a great full-time job with a new career direction in the UAE. Among other trailing spouses I have met, the happiest are those that have used the relocation as an opportunity to do something a little different, whether it be establishing a new business, writing a book, studying for a course, or – in some cases – taking time out with the family.

But whatever the chosen option, it’s inevitable that both partners will face the pressures that come with setting up a brand new household, or difficulties in obtaining work permits for the trailing spouse. My advice is not to let these challenges discourage you from moving – but also not to underplay their impacts, especially in the early days.

Managing the move with young children: stay flexible

Without doubt, when I look back on my experience of managing a move with young children, there are things I would do differently. What we found worked was getting the children into a routine – in our case a nursery – as soon as possible. This was the best option initially, as we wanted to take a bit longer over finding the right home childminder. Having the children at nursery and settling in also gave us time to run around sorting out the basics.

However, it’s also important to stay flexible and allow yourself some space and time – which means being open with your employer. One thing I forgot to take into account is that kids get ill when they meet other children, so I needed a few days working from home to manage this.

You also need to remember that the logistics of establishing a household can be lengthy and time-consuming. For my most recent move to Dubai, I went out a month in advance to sort some of these things out before the children arrived. For Botswana, by contrast, we all moved together, spent a week on initial set-up and then worked through it. For me, the latter approach worked better.


Being away from support networks

For most people, the idea of having a baby in a different country is pretty scary - especially because they wonder how they’ll get by without their usual support networks. I had my second child while on assignment in Botswana. And while being away from family and friends at such a time is a wrench, today’s social media and videoconferencing tools make keeping in touch much easier. When you’re speaking to family in Cornwall, it doesn’t really matter whether you’re in London, Dubai or Gaborone!

Tight-knit communities characterise expat living and in both in Dubai and Gaborone, we’ve found it’s much more common than at home to meet not only your colleagues outside work, but also their families. Work social events usually include family or at least spouses, and are a great source of information, friendships and advice as you find your feet.

For fathers who may need to ‘lean in’ even more when overseas, I have found that concepts like ‘stay-at-home fathers’ or ‘shared parenting’ are still only just being understood in some areas outside work. This suggests that the workplace is now changing much more quickly than in the past. However, you still get annoying school letters addressed ‘Dear mums’ and invites to ‘mums only’ events: these are not only irrelevant in the modern context, but are also unhelpful to my efforts to act as a working role model to my young daughter. Fortunately this is changing, but it does mean more effort may be needed to show the kids that today’s mums and dads can play the same roles.

Young children adapting: don’t project your own fears onto them!

Of course, worrying about how your children will adapt to a new environment is natural and warranted. However, my experience is that to our young children, home is where mum and dad are. Our concerns about how they would integrate, find new friends and continue to play were probably the most misguided of all our worries. For both of our moves the kids have been adaptable, excited and comfortable making new friends, while also keeping in touch with the old ones and sharing their thoughts on the different countries (in their own way of course). Personally speaking, I have to remember not to project our fears onto them, and that changes that can sometimes seem challenging to an adult – like travelling to a new place on an aeroplane, speaking to grandparents on videoconferencing and settling into a new environment – are second nature to them. For example, after a recent trip to the UK, my daughter announced for the first time that she wanted to move. I was concerned, and asked: “Do you mean to the UK or back to Botswana?” The answer came back: “I want to live in the Burj Khalifa when I’m older!”


Finding the right schooling

I have seen schooling become an obsession for some parents, who have expended huge effort on trying to match qualification types, subjects and – in some cases – the quality of teaching they wanted. It’s important to remember that school selection is also a challenge back home. With younger children, we have found that any minor academic differences are strongly outweighed by the wealth of learning, appreciation and confidence our children get from exposure to different cultures and experiences. The schools or nurseries that our children attend are not only providing an academic background, but are also supporting them in becoming rounded, experienced, global citizens able to learn, share and play with those of different languages, nationalities, cultures and religions. As at home, I’ve found it’s generally best to go with your instincts when selecting a school. Research and conversations may help – but opinions are subjective, and you’re the person best qualified to find the best fit for your own child.

The ‘I hate…’ days

I’d like to sign off with one of the best pieces of advice that a friend gave me before our first move. During any mobility experience there will be ‘I hate…’ days: whole days when everything seems foreign, the simple things are difficult and all you want to do is get back to familiarity. Well, guess what: they pass. Just get through them, and be careful not to blame all the usual ups and downs of life on the country you’re in. Also, use these times as a trigger to plan something you couldn’t do at home. Living abroad can be hard, so it’s important to make extra efforts to maximise the benefits. Sometimes, a mini-escape can provide perspective. And while I love visiting family back home at Christmas, I’m also happy to replace the grey skies over the M4 to Heathrow with the blue skies of Botswana or the warmth of Dubai.

Mine is certainly not the only expatriate story out there – and I hope that in the future, there will be many more to come: male and female, mums and dads, young and old. It’s never too early or too late to experience the personal or family adventure that is global mobility!

Signing off for now…


Sarah-Headshot Sarah Morrin is a Senior Manager in PwC Middle East’s consulting practice, specialising in the Energy, Utilities and Mining sectors. As an engineer and a chartered accountant, she specialises in working at the interface between commercial and operational concerns of clients. Her core skills are in asset management optimisation, business process implementation and major contractual reviews. Sarah is passionate about international experience and has acted as a project manager and PwC consultant in the Middle East, UK, Ireland and Africa.

You can connect with Sarah on LinkedIn.

21 July 2016

Moving women with purpose: The Middle East – “Trailblazing whilst specialising”

Our recent research report Moving women with purpose: Creating gender inclusive mobility tells us that organisations priority destinations for growth are often those low on the list of employee’s favoured destinations.  The Middle East and Africa in particular rank the least attractive relocation regions for female and male talent across the globe.  

Last week PwC guest blogger Sarah Morrin shared her first in a series of blogs in which she discussed the amazing experience she had living and working in Botswana Africa.  This week, Sarah turns her attention to sharing her experiences of working in the Middle East and all that the region has to offer.




I think in every assignment, there comes a time for reflection and the decision to stay or go. For us, Botswana wasn’t our ‘forever’ place – and while we could have both had happy careers there, we wanted to move on to our next adventure……

……Having been in Botswana for two years, the time came for our careers and our family to look towards our next move. Although we had been away from the UK for two years, we had maintained good contact with our family and friends through visits home, weddings and having people to stay. And although we wanted to live a little closer to the UK, we weren’t in a hurry personally or professionally to move back there. Meanwhile, I had maintained my contacts with the PwC Middle East firm, and a number of colleagues that I had worked with on Middle East projects from the UK had made the move to the UAE. 

My desire to live as well as work for the Middle East firm had been a work in progress since 2010 when I first worked in the region. Between 2010 and 2012, I worked on a series of projects supporting the establishment of a new joint venture between an oil and gas major and the Iraqi government, including setting up new processes, organisational models and systems. During this period I travelled to the region frequently to provide consulting advice drawing on my combined engineering and accounting background, and I found it very different from what I’d expected. The clients were keen to build towards a successful new venture so the fact that I was female was secondary to the information and services I was delivering. Holding training sessions and workshops, I was welcomed and appreciated and really enjoyed the process of delivering tangible value in a short space of time.

A year ago, I joined the Middle East firm as a Senior Manager in the Energy, Utilities and Mining team. In making this move, I was looking not only to build on my Botswana experience, but also to refocus my career into a more specialist industry area where my combined engineering and financial skills could bring new perspectives to managing assets. As well as being able to be more focused by virtue of the larger size of the firm, the Middle East firm also had the advantage of a strong history of working on a cross-border basis, so I knew that I would have the opportunity to work in any of the 12 countries in the region.

ME sights

Shortly after my arrival, the decline in oil and gas prices meant the focus of clients changed, in turn requiring changes to the firm’s offerings. One of the advantages of having already experienced a new market and change meant that I had some preparation for this. The switch to a larger market and gaining an understanding not only of country but also new regional differences, business cultures and markets are work in progress. So far, my engagement experiences have included an oil refinery in Oman, sustainable investments in Abu Dhabi, health & safety reviews in Kuwait and, more recently, working for one of the largest industrial companies in the world on its IFRS conversion and IAS 16 compliance.

The last of these is based in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, with special arrangements being made so I can be one of the few females allowed on site. Again, the result has been successful workshops, presentations, consultations and collaboration regardless of my gender or nationality. For me, it is very empowering to be able to take on the role of ‘trailblazer’. It is humbling and inspiring to feel that in addition to the challenging and engaging work I’m exposed to, there is often the potential side-effect that I am paving the way for other women in the Middle East to follow in my footsteps. While I might be the first women in many of these situations I know I won’t be the last.

Living in Dubai continues to be a wonder every day. It’s a modern global hub with an estimated 200-plus nationalities holding UAE residency at any time, so work and leisure are always multicultural. This is a Muslim country that is formed of seven distinct emirates and seeks to balance its cultural and religious heritage with modern life. It is important to be cognisant and aware of the traditions and requirements, but on a day-to-day basis their effects are rarely felt. A common question asked by visitors is what they should wear – and while the time of year and the particular country or Emirate being visited do have an impact, the usual rule is that modest clothing is appropriate. From my own perspective, I only wear an Abaya (a traditional overcoat of dark colours worn by women outside the house) when I am working in Saudi Arabia.

Having missed the sea in our time in Botswana, a gulf view was a must – so we made the decision to give apartment living a try. While some families soon move to a villa for the garden and space, we love the view, facilities and convenience, and all the family have taken to it. The rhythms of living inside in the hot summer months but having outdoor adventures in the winter is familiar from our experience in Africa – albeit that we now camp in the desert rather than the bush, and see more camels than elephants.  

Selfie Fun

One year in, my time in the Middle East has already been hugely rewarding, both personally and professionally.  My advice to women who’ve already struck the Middle East off their potential list of work destinations is: don’t believe everything you hear – and don’t knock it if you haven’t tried it! The main thing is to go and see for yourself and gain first-hand experience of not only the differences but also the similarities of the global workplace.

To be continued……


Sarah-Headshot Sarah Morrin is a Senior Manager in PwC Middle East’s consulting practice, specialising in the Energy, Utilities and Mining sectors. As an engineer and a chartered accountant, she specialises in working at the interface between commercial and operational concerns of clients. Her core skills are in asset management optimisation, business process implementation and major contractual reviews. Sarah is passionate about international experience and has acted as a project manager and PwC consultant in the Middle East, UK, Ireland and Africa.

You can connect with Sarah on LinkedIn.

12 July 2016

Moving women with purpose: Botswana, Africa – “Expanding my horizons and portfolio”

Our recent research report Moving women with purpose: Creating gender inclusive mobility confirms that both businesses and talent face clear mobility location-related challenges. Seventy-five percent of global mobility leaders agree that assignment destinations match their organisation’s priority destinations for growth, yet the markets targeted for growth may be low down the list of employee’s favoured destinations. Our research tells us that 48% of women say they would never consider relocating to the Middle East as an international assignment location, while 43% say the same for Africa, ranking these regions as the least attractive to female talent from across the globe.

Organisations will need to explore how they manage this mismatch, while talent – especially international experience-hungry millennials, 73% of whom want to work abroad during their career – will need to consider destinations beyond the developed Western markets that have traditionally been favoured.


So, the question for international businesses is: how do you make opportunities in locations such as Africa and the Middle East more attractive to the modern workforce?

Employers’ responses to this question should include creating greater awareness of what these locations have to offer, and role-modelling the experiences of successful assignees in these locations. With these aims in mind, let me get the ball rolling by introducing the first in a series of blogs from PwC guest blogger Sarah Morrin, who over the course of three blogs will be sharing her experiences as a woman and mother on international assignment in Africa and the Middle East.



In August 2012 I was fortunate to move from London to Botswana.  I say ‘fortunate’ because despite being one of those millennials who would have quickly ticked the ‘working-outside-their-home-country’ box, this experience nearly didn’t happen. By 2012, my life was – at least to outsiders – very settled: we were married and had a mortgage, I had returned to work after my first baby, and I was commuting to my role at PwC in London from nearby Sussex each day. To satisfy my urge to travel I had some projects in the Middle East, but it seemed that my time for living abroad had passed.

But I was lucky – as this was all about to change.  My first piece of luck was that my husband came home one day and announced he had been given an opportunity to work in Botswana. My second was that being with PwC meant I could make this opportunity work professionally for me as well.

In Botswana we lived in Gaborone, the capital city. Botswana is a landlocked country in Southern Africa that is the world’s largest producer of diamonds. It was a British protectorate until independence in 1967, with English and Setswana as its languages. The population is approximately 2 million, and includes a tight-knit business community.

These were the basics of my early research. But living somewhere, you learn a lot more. As a farmer’s daughter, I learned to appreciate that Botswana was also a major beef producer, and I had some important clients in this sector. In Botswana, the cattle often roam free range, which was a welcome sight alongside the goats, chickens and donkeys. Whilst most of the wildlife resides in the North of the country, the South also had its excitements – such as a tribe of resident monkeys in the PwC carpark, warthogs by the road and lizards everywhere.


Through working on risk assurance engagements with major donor agencies and related parties, I came to understand more about the impacts that TB, Malaria and HIV have had on the population in Botswana. I also saw how this burden of disease has created its own drivers for success and research, including planned eradication of malaria and the successful protection of unborn children from HIV transmission.

I think that all too often, potential moves to ‘less developed’ markets are considered through the lens of what one will be giving up, rather than what these locations have to offer. Likewise, assumptions and myths can potentially get in the way of what could be the career and personal experience of a lifetime. I feel very privileged to be able to share my experience and debunk some of these myths; myths like emerging markets won’t provide as much career opportunity or be as female-friendly as one’s home country.

As part of my move I took a promotion to a new role as an Advisory Senior Manager. This role became the lead for the new Advisory practice, managing all Botswana Consulting and Risk Assurance projects alongside building and training a young local team. I had the opportunity to grow a new business, challenge myself, and have early exposure to tackling practice challenges like balancing pipeline and delivery, bringing a new team up to speed, entering a new market and collaborating with other PwC firms to deliver projects.

Professionally, my position as a pioneer for PwC in the country meant that not only the range but also the profile of projects I undertook was high. These included setting up new entities for the government, having meetings with high-profile ministers and contributing and speaking at corporate and society events on key topics.

My exposure to female role models was also immense. Working at senior levels for government and private clients, I appreciated that Botswana has one of the highest proportions of female heads of household and that many of these women were forces to reckon with. I attended many Board meetings with powerful, successful and educated Batswana women who had a strong interest in serving their communities and families. At PwC, I was the most senior client-facing female – and I soon found that those applying for positions to join the team were young ambitious, educated Batswana females with much to contribute now and in the future.

Personally, I arrived in Botswana with one baby and left with two, as life’s more common adventures continue. Whilst arrangements for childcare were easier, I must admit that the school run remained the same headache as it does wherever you are in the world trying to balance competing commitments.


Working in an emerging market – especially when coming from a more mature market – does bring its own challenges physically, emotionally and professionally. For us, there were physical challenges such as appreciating and living with increased house security, a drought resulting in water shortages and interruptions in power supply. There was also the emotional upheaval of being far away from family and friends, although many did make the visit of a lifetime to share in our adventures – and we encouraged them to do so. Professionally, starting something new on your own is daunting and stalled progress can be frustrating, along with trying to work out which of your work behaviours to adapt to a new business culture and which are needed to be retained to make progress. At times it could be very lonely, until I began to reach out to PwC colleagues not only in Botswana, but also fromother African firms and back in the UK and Middle East.

Looking back, it was definitely all worth it, with the positives far outweighing the challenges.  The opportunity to develop a practice area, while working on such a wide range and variety of client engagements, is something I simply would not have been afforded back in London. I strongly feel I’ve developed leadership skills, established amazing relationships and vastly expanded my engagement portfolio and horizons. I feel that many of these stretch and learning experiences were because of – and not in spite of – my relocation to an emerging market.

So, my advice to women (and men) considering an international experience is: don’t be afraid of or rule out some of the more adventurous locations this world has to offer.

To be continued……


Sarah-Headshot Sarah Morrin is a Senior Manager in PwC Middle East’s consulting practice, specialising in the Energy, Utilities and Mining sectors. As an engineer and a chartered accountant, she specialises in working at the interface between commercial and operational concerns of clients. Her core skills are in asset management optimisation, business process implementation and major contractual reviews. Sarah is passionate about international experience and has acted as a project manager and PwC consultant in the Middle East, UK, Ireland and Africa.

You can connect with Sarah on LinkedIn.

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.

06 January 2016

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

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



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

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

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

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

1. Be pro-active

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

2. Be authentic

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

3. Follow-up and maintain

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

4. Personalise your message

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

5. Don’t forget about your peers and colleagues

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

6. Go to events on your own…eventually

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

7. Map your network

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

8. You always have something to give

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

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

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

10. Say thanks

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

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


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

23 December 2015

PwC’s 12 gifts of diversity

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

Gift 1 – The CEO view

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

Gift 2 – Aspire to Lead

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

Gift 3 – The case for change

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

Gift 4 – How to address gender bias in Global Mobility

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

Gift 5 - Insights from female millennial talent

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

Gift 6 – PwC’s Women in Work Index

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

Gift 7 – Women in Technology blog

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

Gift 8 - Global Diversity Week

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

Gift 9 – The PwC HeForShe website

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

Gift 10 – Raise the bar for yourself

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

Gift 11 – Spotlight on Financial Services: Diversity Matters

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

Gift 12 – Our Gender Agenda blog

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

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


Aoife and Dale

02 December 2015

Is a global career high on your agenda? Have your say!

This week we bring you the exciting news that PwC is launching a global talent diversity and global mobility research study.

Did you know that female demand for international experiences has never been higher, with 71% of female millennials saying they want to work outside their home country during their career? Given that only 20% of current international assignees are female, this reveals unprecedented – and as yet un-met – demand for international experience from the female millennial.

In light of such dramatic shifts, multinational organisations worldwide are facing the challenge of creating and delivering inclusive global mobility programmes that realise the full opportunities created by today’s workforce demographics. Demographics such as the rise in dual-career couples, increasing eldercare responsibilities due to an ageing population, and critical skills gaps in key geographies.

Meanwhile, members of this fast-changing modern workforce (men and women) are frustrated by the perceived lack of international opportunities available to them, the low levels of organisational support provided during their international assignments, and quite often the discrepancy between the expected and actual impacts that these international experiences have on their careers.

At PwC, we believe that – alongside its other benefits – global mobility provides opportunities to foster greater diversity and inclusion in organisations.  But to drive global mobility strategies that get this right, organisations must first gain a better understanding of the international career aspirations and experiences of today’s workforce. 

To gain these insights, we have commissioned Opinium Research to conduct a ground-breaking global research study.  Aimed at engaging the workforce of today and the leaders of tomorrow, the survey is open to women and men who are interested in, currently on or have completed an international experience.

Our research objective is to help organisations – including ourselves – to better understand how talent diversity and global mobility intersect, and what this means for the development and delivery of transformational inclusive talent strategies. 

So, is a global career high on your agenda? If the answer is yes, then why not share your views and help to shape the inclusive talent strategies of tomorrow?  You can play your part now by simply investing 12 minutes of your time to complete the survey by clicking here!  

We’ll be sharing the findings of our research with you in early March, so watch this space!

Want to share this survey with someone you know? Just share the message below via your social media channels:

Is international experience important to you? Join #PwC #GlobalMobility study to have your say: http://pwc.to/1jBfYOA 


20 November 2015

Gender equality – don’t be afraid to ask questions

This week we bring you the third in a series of guest blogs from male PwC gender equality champions with Peter Yobo sharing why men have an opportunity to commit to gender equality, whatever that means where they are from. Peter Yobo is HeForShe, are you? To learn more about how you can be a part of HeForShe, please visit heforshe.pwc.com today and join the 20,897 men and women from across the globe who have already pledged on our website.



As a young boy growing up in the capital city of Accra, Ghana, I had a bright future ahead of me. As the only son in my family I was expected to go to school, get a job, and be successful enough to take care of my parents. The same was expected of both my sisters.

However, this wasn’t the case across the country. The norm especially in the villages was to ensure the eldest son went to school to meet the same expectations my parents had of me and be sent to the capital if finances allowed. Any younger brothers would follow the same path if the parents could afford it, if not they move in with another family member who could put them through school. The girls on the other hand, were made to stay home to help with the chores or on the farm while they were prepped for marriage.

So you can imagine how surprised I was when I started hearing about gender equality initiatives when I moved to the U.S. Women in the U.S. could go to school, get jobs, and in many cases oversaw the work of other men.  This is something that is often unheard of in my home country along with many others. I must admit that in my ignorance I really did not think there was a problem in the U.S.

The good thing about being from another country is that people allow you to ask questions most people wouldn’t, assuming that you haven’t fully adjusted to the U.S. culture and may still be a little culturally awkward. I still am after 10 years of living here, so I reached out to some of my female friends to understand what being a woman in the U.S. workforce looked like.


The conversation opened my eyes to some of the issues women face in the U.S. around compensation, managing motherhood and work, fewer women in leadership and less support from men in achieving their goals, etc.  Studies show that in 2010, women earned just 77 cents for every dollar men made, and that of the top 500 companies by revenues, only 21 are headed by women.  I quickly learned that just because the issues weren’t the same in Ghana and other parts of the world, it didn’t mean gender equality issues aren’t as real here in the U.S. and in other developed countries. That while the same things might not spring to mind when one thinks gender equality dependent on where they sit in the world, this is a global issue.

The gender equality issue is about more than just awareness -- it needs to be an intentional collaboration from both genders. But since I am a man, I want to speak to you men. The role we are to play is bigger than simply embracing gender equality initiatives, instead to courageously engage our female colleagues, no matter where they sit in the world, in open, honest, and vulnerable conversation and step into opportunities to expand the conversation beyond perhaps just our male viewpoint of gender equality. It might take being a little culturally or socially awkward to foster an environment where gender equality is our culture. I challenge you to join me in committing to HeForShe and asking that female friend, colleague, family member to an open and honest conversation on the topic.

I am an advocate for global gender equality. I am HeForShe.


Yobo2 Peter is a consultant with PwC Advisory and specialises in helping organisations realise financial and operational improvement through organisational, process and technology change. He has consulted with companies in the Technology, Information, Communications and Entertainment sectors. Peter is also very passionate about Diversity & Inclusion and as a proud supporter of global gender equality, Peter promptly took the #HeforShe pledge.

29 October 2015

Shaping Up for Success – Career Advancement Opportunities and Choices

This year the International Women of Excellence (IWE) celebrate their ten year anniversary and as an active sponsor of the IWE for the past seven years, we were very happy to be part of these celebrations by hosting their inaugural Irish event here in PwC Ireland’s Dublin office.   

The event brought 30 women together from seven organisations to explore career advancement opportunities and choices in a safe environment.  Overall it was a fantastic day and I wanted to share some of the nuggets I took away with our Gender Agenda readers. 

The workshop was facilitated by Christine Champion and she opened the session with an ice-breaker whereby we introduced ourselves to others we’d never met before using the following information: 

  1. Who or what has inspired me in life
  2. A career success I am proud of
  3. A memorable thing I have done
  4. The strengths and qualities I am best known for

It is a well-researched phenomenon that women aren’t as good or as comfortable at promoting themselves or talking about their achievements as men are.  For this reason it was one of the most enjoyable beginnings to a workshop I’ve ever had.  I got to hear some pretty inspiring things about the women I was sharing a room with for the rest of the day and it also forced 30 women to talk positively about ourselves.


Something I’d like to take away from this experience is to use this concept (in particular points 2, 3 and 4) to revisit my “Elevator Pitch”.  I’m sure we’ve all been given the advice that we need to be armed with an “Elevator Pitch” at some point.  Ultimately this means being able to articulate what you do and the value you bring in the time it takes to travel in an elevator (or lift as we call them here in Ireland).  If it’s good it will hopefully lead to a more robust conversation.

I plan to revisit my Elevator Pitch to see how I can embed these positive themes in the hope that it will prompt questions about those positive experiences.  I encourage other women to do the same.  If asked directly to talk about something positive we’ve briefly touched on in our “Elevator Pitch” it might make us feel a little bit more comfortable when it comes to “bragging” about our achievements.

After lunch we had a fantastic panel session with three inspiring female leaders who talked very authentically and candidly about their careers.  They left me feeling inspired so I’m going to share a little nugget from each of them so that you can feel inspired too.

The more senior you get the more autonomy you have

Unmanageable workload demands are a common perception of more senior level positions, but in reality the more senior you are, the more likely you will have control over where, how and when you work.  The lesson: don’t let concerns that your workload or schedule will become unmanageable sway you from putting yourself forward to advance.

Perfect is the enemy of good enough

I used to pride myself on being a perfectionist.  Not so true anymore, as I’ve advanced in my career and the scope of my roles and deliverables have grown broader and broader being a perfectionist works against me. As a rule of thumb I now try to apply my own version of the 80-20 rule to my work output. If I’m satisfied that my output has hit 80% on the perfection chart then it’s good enough. In practice it’s probably more like 95% but at least I’m getting better!  The lesson: perfect is the enemy of good enough is a rule to live by.

Know what your non-negotiables are and live by them

This piece of advice really struck a chord with me.  This leader spoke about how she is very clear on the non-negotiable that between half five and half seven every evening she is not contactable so that she can be completely focused on her children during this time.  She also spoke about the non-negotiables she has had throughout her career and various different personal circumstances.  There was a clear take away in the room that you don’t have to have children to have non-negotiables and that no matter the position you hold we should all have them. The lesson: No matter your professional or personal circumstances know and live by your non-negotiables.

I’m currently working out what my own non-negotiables will be; why don’t you join me?





Based 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 ‘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

15 October 2015

It’s time to hit re-set regarding how we think about today’s dads.

This week, guest blogger, Dr. Brad Harrington, Executive Director of the Boston College Centre for Work & Family and a professor at the Carroll School of Management, shares his insights on the changing role of fathers.

For the past six years, my colleagues and I at the Boston College Center for Work & Family have been researching the changing role of fathers in America and our extensive research makes one thing clear, it’s time to hit re-set in terms of how people think about today’s dads. 

That is why we decided to call this year’s report The New Dad: A Portrait of Today's Father. It seems we are not alone in our thinking, Getty Images, the large American stock photo agency which supplies images for the media, creative professionals, and businesses have also observed a marked shift. In a recent article featured in ADWEEK they shared that images tagged “modern dad” or “stay-at-home dad” have increased in sales by over 450 percent over the past eight years.

Our research has looked at dads of young infants, professional dads in large corporations, at-home dads, etc., and with each year our depiction becomes fuller and richer. 


This year we have synthesized our previous five years of research with that of some of North America's leading fatherhood scholars to paint a portrait of today's fathers.

What are some of the highlights of the portrait that we share in this year's report?

  • Dads today are much more hands-on and engaged with their children than fathers were a generation ago. They no longer see their role primarily as a breadwinner. The majority want to share parenting responsibilities equally with their spouse and struggle with knowing that their actions are not yet aligned with their aspirations. In fact recent evidence suggests that working fathers may experience as much or more work-family conflict than their female counterparts.

  • No doubt we’ve all been witness to fathers being celebrated for parenting activities that are quite simply just expected of mothers, prime example “oh isn’t he so good for doing the school run”. Yet, while many believe that dads who take time off with their kids are viewed as "heroic" in the workplace, this isn't necessarily true for fathers who are consistently visibly involved in care-giving. Research suggests these fathers face stigma and career penalties.

  • Dads are very keen to see their companies offer paid paternity leave. While "conventional wisdom" says fathers won't use the time they've been given, research suggests otherwise. In one of our Center's studies, when dads in professional positions were asked how much time they took off for paternity leave, the most frequent answer dads gave was as much as their company offered, even if that was 4 or 6 weeks (as long as it was paid leave).Policies that offer greater equality in parental leave are clearly on the rise. For example, PwC’s US firm has recently expanded their parental leave policy to provide all new parents (including adoptive and foster parents) with six consecutive weeks of paid time off during the first year following a birth, adoption or foster placement.  
  • We are also beginning to see a dramatic shift and so more accurate view of today’s father in the mass media. Major social movements typically need a very long horizon before lasting change can be observed. While the shift toward seeing fathers in a new, more nuanced and holistic light may still be work-in-progress, significant gains have occurred in only a few short years. These gains will benefit society, families, spouses, children and most of all, the fathers themselves.

Organisations should do the work necessary to ensure their policies, programmes, and culture are in step with today’s realities and not based on outdated gender stereotypes. Progressive initiatives (such as the aforementioned paid paternity leave) are critical for employers to become talent magnets for “The New Dad”. In the long run, this will create a more inclusive workplace that benefits these men and their working spouses.  



Dr. Brad Harrington is Executive Director of the Boston College Center for Work & Family and a research professor in the Carroll School of Management.

You can learn more about Brad by clicking here.

Learn more about The New Dad: A Portrait of Today’s Father research report by clicking here or access the complete “New Dad” research series here.

21 September 2015

Female millennial jet-setters

When it comes to the female millennial our research tells us one thing is clear: female demand for international mobility has quite simply never been higher.  A whopping 71% of female millennials told us they want to work overseas during their career.  Given international organisations are placing growing importance on the establishment of leadership teams and an employee base that is globally competent, it is no surprise that 62% of millennial women feel international experience is critical to further their career.

However the number of women undertaking these sought after international assignments is not proportionate to their representation in the workforce.  In fact, despite the number of female assignees doubling in the past decade, women make up 20% of current international assignees. Research by Catalyst identifies that gaining international experience advances men’s and women’s careers further and faster, yet the best and brightest female talent are not undertaking these international opportunities at the same rates as their male peers.

Our most recent female millennial research is revealing.  Female millennials are 21% less likely than their male counterparts to believe that men and women have equal opportunity to undertake international assignments at their current employer.  Furthermore the more career experienced the female millennial is, the more likely she is to agree less with this statement: 60% of career starters agreed (0-3 years’ work experience) compared with 53% of career establishers (9 or more years’ work experience).


There is a plethora of research pointing out lots of gender differences just one of which is that women tend to be more risk averse with their decision making both in work and when it comes to their careers.  

When I was 25, I had the opportunity to go and work in our US firm’s Boston office for six months. It was an amazing experience and, to this day, it is unparalleled for the level of accelerated personal and professional growth I gleaned from the experience. But it was hard. Yes, Boston is probably the most Irish place I could have gone on an international assignment, but believe me it was not without its challenges.

Never mind it being my first time living overseas, it was my first time living outside of my family home. I was moving into a completely new role I had no prior experience in and I did not know a single person in Boston. So yes, it was tough, but I will never forget how I felt when I got back to Dublin. The whole experience literally made me feel ‘career invincible’. Like wow, if I survived that I could survive anything my career might throw at me. Without doubt, getting that experience early in my career made me much less ‘career-risk adverse’ and was instrumental in establishing a pattern where I consistently seek out challenging opportunities that keep me inspired, motivated and engaged. Quite simply, I wouldn’t be where I am in my career today had it not been for my international assignment experience.


I’m a firm believer that getting women international experience early in their career will have a number of benefits.  Firstly, it will help create the global acumen and out of comfort distinctive experience required to advance to leadership levels.  Secondly, it will set women up to be less career risk averse and with that braver with their career decisions. And finally, it will support an inclusive global mobility culture in organisations with these women more likely to undertake further international assignments, recommend such experiences to female peers and sponsor more junior female talent for such experiences as they progress up the corporate ladder.

Having a global mobility programme that enables early international experience for female talent is just one of many ways to drive a more gender inclusive global mobility programme.  Learn about other critical opportunities based on Australian research in PwC Australia’s recent research publication Developing Female Leaders: Addressing Gender Bias in Global Mobility




Based 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 ‘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

02 September 2015

Be a driver for change

This week we bring you the second of a series of guest blogs from male PwC gender equality champions with Connor Deeks sharing the very inspiring story of why he is HeForShe and how he is trying to make a difference.



You’ve probably been seeing a lot lately about UN Women’s HeForShe initiative, and maybe even about PwC’s support for this important effort to support global gender equality. PwC is a founding HeForShe “IMPACT 10x10x10” champion -- one of 10 corporations, 10 universities and 10 governments committed to identifying and testing approaches for addressing global gender inequality. I am very proud to work for a firm that is making such a significant commitment to such an important cause. That extraordinary level of commitment to issues of fairness is a large part of why I work here.

But I would add that, for me, HeForShe is about mobilizing everyday individuals to support global gender equality. I am an accountant.  My realizations have not been stunning, and my perspective is not unique. There was no transformative epiphany. I do not have celebrity star power and it’s unlikely I’ll be asked to address the United Nations. I am an ordinary man living an ordinary life, but I am part of an important effort.

And yet, a gesture I made in support of gender equality has received some attention. Back in 2014, one year removed from university, I was so inspired by PwC’s Aspire to Lead webcast with Facebook COO and Lean In author Sheryl Sandberg that I made a donation to my alma mater, Oregon State University (OSU), to purchase copies of her book Lean In for Graduates and had them distributed to business students who were about to graduate. With the help of a matching gift from PwC, I was able to get the book into the hands of 124 students. A close friend and fellow OSU alumnus got caught up in the spirit of the initiative as well. With my friend’s help, and again with matching funds from PwC, this past spring we were able to hand out 200 more copies.


Part of my ordinary background is that I had amazing parents -- both healthcare professionals – who taught me and my three brothers to value fairness and to stand up for what’s right. I also had a best friend whose mom was an executive at a Fortune 500 company, and I absorbed some of her perspective just by being around her during my teens. In high school, I had fantastic teachers who were women. And when I got to college, the professor who had the biggest influence on me – who got me genuinely excited about a career in accounting – happened to be a woman.

But while I don’t have a “story,” I do have a genuine passion for global gender equity. And with that passion comes the responsibility to do something about it.

As a student at OSU’s College of Business, I had been a member of Dean Ilene Kleinsorge’s Student Leadership Circle. Energized and inspired by Aspire to Lead, I went back to Dean Kleinsorge to see how we might get Lean In for Graduates into the hands of as many students as possible. We’ve done that and will continue to do so in the hopes that in the near future every graduate from OSU will leave with the book. Dean Kleinsorge is also passionate about gender equality in the workplace, and from that passion she and the University have developed the Women’s Leadership Program, which includes a women's leadership curriculum for male and female students as well as a mentorship program that will pair successful female professionals in the Northwest, including women at PwC, with promising female students at OSU. Through her thoughtful efforts, I’ve been able to have a lasting impact on a place that I care about, on an issue that is so important to me.

I’ve been asked why I care so much about this -- my honest response is, how could I not care? My hope is that everyone will find his or her own way to address gender inequality. When we handed out the books, we included a note: “Be a driver for change.” It was important to me to send a message to young professionals that they don’t have to wait 10 years to get involved or push initiatives forward. They can do something now… and sometimes even the smallest actions can lead to something greater.

We should be aware of and avoid buying into any damaging gender stereotypes, such as negative perceptions of successful women. The first step is the awareness that comes from a webcast, a book, a blog post, or a conversation. And once you have that awareness, you need to do something about it—commit to HeForShe, donate to a charity that supports women and girls in any capacity, or simply stand up against global gender inequality and make your voice be heard. When we can all do that (and I do mean when, not if), gender inequality will be that “thing” people used to talk about.

Until then, I am an advocate for global gender equity. I am HeForShe.


Connor-Deeks-headshot Connor Deeks is an Assurance Senior Associate with the PwC US firm. After graduating with a bachelor's degree in Accounting and Spanish from Oregon State University, he joined PwC in Portland, Oregon and is a licensed CPA in the state. Connor is very active in recruitment for PwC and began teaching internal courses this year. As a proud supporter of global gender equality, Connor promptly took the #HeforShe pledge.

18 August 2015

Raise the bar for yourself

One of the things that make working in Diversity and Inclusion at PwC so fantastic is the amazing passion and commitment to diversity from our most senior leaders.  Given PwC has offices in 157 countries and almost 200,000 people I get a huge kick out of the fact that our small global diversity team gets such fantastic exposure to our most senior leaders.  It is just one of the many things that keep me inspired and motivated.

During our most recent global diversity leadership meeting held in London this past January we had almost all of our Network Executive Team join us. This included Nora Wu, who holds the position of Global People Leader. Nora was incredibly authentic, incredibly impressive, incredibly humble and incredibly inspiring.  In fact at the time I remember thinking I wish there were more people in the room getting to hear Nora’s story. 

Well, my wish has come true.  Nora recently partook in a TEDx Women in Shanghai event so now anyone can tune in to Nora’s career journey and benefit from her inspiring career tips.


For her TEDx talk Nora chose to focus on the theme ‘Raise the bar for yourself’ with three core career and life lessons weaved within her career and personal journey which starts with her very humble beginnings and aspirations (her parent’s dreams where she would become a factory worker) to becoming the first Chinese national and only one of two women on PwC’s Network Executive Team.

In short the lessons are:

  1. Never settle for less and never give up on yourself.
  2. Define what personal success looks like and means for you.
  3. Investing in you has two core results. Firstly, the personal benefit, but secondly and perhaps more importantly, the opportunity to empower others. 

If you do one thing for yourself this week, why not make it taking 18 minutes out to be inspired by Nora Wu.  Tune into her TedX talk by clicking here.

I leave you with Nora’s parting words.  “You never know where you are capable of taking yourself. Where do you want to take yourself and what do you want to achieve in your life? My story is not finished yet and neither is yours.”



Aoife_180815Based 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 ‘The female millennial: A new era of talent’ and 'Next Generation Diversity: Developing tomorrow's female leaders' thought leadership publications.

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

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23 July 2015

Are you creating the right feedback culture?

Last month I had the pleasure of presenting the findings from our The female millennial: A new era of talent research at PwC’s annual HR Leaders Symposium, which took place in the beautiful city of Venice. A particular theme from this research seemed to resonate during my session – the importance of creating the right feedback culture. This theme was not isolated to my session, it appeared to be implicitly woven throughout many of the sessions and more explicitly in others; I made a mental note to focus a future Gender Agenda blog on this topic, so here we go.

When writing our recent publication The female millennial: A new era of talent, there was a personal story I could not get out of mind as I crafted the feedback culture section of the report, and I want to share this story with you.

I have a friend who last year started a new job. Back when she was about to embark on this employer change I asked her why she left her former employer, a well known name in the Financial Services sector and she explained that she had recently had her year-end appraisal discussion.  

During this appraisal she got the feedback that while 90% of her work was fantastic, for the previous six months they had been unhappy with how she had been handling a small segment of her role. This prompted her decision to leave for a number of reasons: 
  • Firstly, she didn’t feel a culture that had let her operate in that way for six months was the type of development culture in which she could thrive.  
  • Secondly, what she had expected to be a future orientated discussion priming her towards her next promotion was instead a past orientated discussion that largely centred on just ten percent of her role. 
  • And finally, while she knew changing her behaviour was an easy fix, as a high potential and highly ambitious young talent, she felt that staying might be a career risk. Her thoughts were that there had been a small issue with her performance in the minds of her superiors for six months and she was worried this might not be something she could shake and could ultimately limit her career trajectory if she stayed.

Our research tells us my friend is not alone and that it is safe to say that most female millennials value and want frequent feedback that is real time and future orientated. Organisations and people managers need to take stock, especially given our research indicates that only 12% of over 9,000 female millennials from across the globe are very satisfied with the feedback they receive in their current roles.

Let the story of my friend be a lesson to us all,a simple conversation six months earlier could have meant a very different outcome for her former employer.  I can tell you her new employer is more than happy with how things panned out, nine months into her career with them and things could not be going better for her.

This emphasis on a strong feedback culture and millennial demand for frequent and real time feedback was also highlighted during a session called Rethinking Performance Management at the previously mentioned symposium. As a Generation Xer, the lead presenter spoke personally as someone who hated receiving feedback and would much rather wait the year out and keep the fingers crossed it was good news when performance ratings, salary increases and bonuses where awarded each year.  It struck me from this discussion how important it is we create awareness around why millennials want and expect more when it comes to feedback and how to get this right.

The millennial generation, that’s those born between 1980-1995 and who are primed to account for 75% of the global workforce by 2025, have grown up in a highly digital world. They are conditioned to receiving immediate feedback such as numerous comments and instant likes on everything they share in their personal life.  This transcends to their work-life where they also expect instant, regular feedback on their job performance.  

So we know what they want, but it is important we heed some warnings as we try to get this right.

1.       It is important we don’t think quantity over quality. 

Likes might suffice in their personal lives, and while they’ll absolutely appreciate the more simple acknowledgements such as ‘good job’ and ‘thank you for your contribution’ it won’t be enough to satisfy their feedback needs.  Blending this with the appropriate levels of developmental future orientated feedback will also be critical. 

2.      Focus on strength enhancement.

It is important we all take note that the aforementioned developmental feedback does not mean feedback limited to addressing weakness.  Strength based feedback that will allow them to unlock the full potential of their strengths is likely to be much more powerful and well received by this generation.

3.      Don’t overuse technology.

Another trap we as employers might fall into is over-using technology when communicating with this generation.

We know this generation is highly tech savvy, but our research tells us that female millennials want the important feedback discussions to take place face-to-face.  

In fact an overwhelming 91% of female millennials from across the globe want career plans and progress discussions to take place face-to-face. 


4.      Real time feedback enhances objectivity.

Evaluating people accurately is among the hardest things we can do, striving to get this right means we should not rely solely on our memory.  Giving feedback in real-time will enhance its objectivity (learn more from Harvard professor Mahzarin Banaji on memory bias here).

5.      Adopt the triple f model.

Successful employers will be those that can blend advanced technology and communication patterns with a feedback culture that enforces what I have taken to calling the triple f model.  Feedback that is frequent, future orientated, and delivered face-to-face. 

So I challenge you - how are you going to embrace and enable the right type of feedback culture for your millennial talent or organisation?




Based 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 ‘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

09 July 2015

Stop thinking imposter syndrome, start thinking imposter advantage!

Seven years ago I took on my first management position with PwC leading a global change effort to expand our international assignment programme to one which very much included early mobility. This was such an exciting and meaty role that gave me the opportunity to bring a conceptual idea from Human Capital leadership to life. I got to own all elements of this early mobility programme all the way from strategy development through execution with two of the programme components being brand and communications. These were new areas to me, but I seemed to have a natural affinity for the creative and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to work and add value in this space. So much so, that it wasn’t long before I became the go-to person on this front for the wider Global Mobility team who supported our PwC Global Mobility efforts at large.

Eighteen months into the role we had a leadership change. Our new leader was renowned for being the PwC guru when it came to all things brand, marketing and innovative communication. Despite the fact I had added clear value in these areas over the previous 18 months I suddenly became horrified that my team was informing this new leader I was the marketing, brand and communications guru on our team……! Inner screams of discomfort and levels of anxiety began to occur as the dreaded imposter syndrome set in.

In my first face-to-face with our new leader I had one main thing on my agenda, to make it clear to this guru that I by no means thought of myself as a guru, that I had been mislabelled, that I must manage his expectations and explain in essence that I had just been giving it a go: this whole marketing, communications and branding component of my role.

Looking back now, in the role I’m in now, I can’t help but giggle at the fact putting front and centre what I felt was a personal weakness was my pivotal aim for my first meeting with my new leader. Yes, I would approach it differently now, but I’m glad I didn’t then, as it became one of the most powerful coaching discussions I was ever part of.

He listened, he recognised what I was saying and then he told me that it was a relief to hear me speak this way. That he would be more troubled if I felt I was the expert or guru. That personally he believes the day you start to feel like the expert is the day you are weak. There is most certainly almost always something new or evolving that we have opportunities to learn from and the day we start to feel comfortable is the day we stop learning, developing or being a leader in our field. 

Gender Agenda blog-imposter advantage

At the time this was super fascinating to me, really eye opening and powerful. A few years later I got to put words to what he was expressing when during an executive masters programme I was undertaking, we covered Peter Senge’s The Fifth Discipline, The Art and Practice of the Learning Organisation. In his book Senge discusses Personal Mastery as a key discipline. While mastery would typically suggest gaining dominance over a subject, Senge refers to mastery as more of a lifetime journey of commitment to personal learning as one continuously strives for mastery in their given area. In essence, personal mastery is something we must continuously strive for, but is not necessarily something we ever achieve, it is a constant quest.

The discussion I had with my former leader made me think about imposter syndrome in a whole new light. For me it lost its negative connotation and became a positive thing as I started to think about it as imposter advantage. Certainly we all need to work on internalising our achievements so we can recognise our successes and competency, but I feel it is ok to feel a little unconvinced of our successes too. Feeling a bit like the fraud for me means I don’t rest on my laurels, that I am continuously focused on trying to improve and be better, and that I am not comfortable enough in my position or abilities to miss a trick.

So my message to you if you are a female leader or talent suffering from imposter syndrome is to embrace it, and rebrand it in your mind to something more positive. Stop thinking imposter syndrome and worrying about feeling the fraud; start thinking of it as your imposter advantage, and how it keeps you on your toes and at your best.




Based 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 ‘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. 

25 June 2015

How Frances Hesselbein Reinvented the Girl Scouts

Influence and impact have historically been difficult for nonprofits, which often labor on shoestring budgets for narrowly focused causes. The role of an influencer can be particularly challenging for women, who tend to manage smaller and less well funded enterprises in the sector and who may struggle to make themselves heard among male colleagues.

Frances Hesselbein, approaching her 100th birthday, has become the world’s leading advocate for management skill in the social sector. As head of Girl Scouts of the USA and then as chief executive of Leader to Leader (now the Frances Hesselbein Leadership Institute), she has parlayed her skills as a networker, catalyst for change, and management thinker into a role fostering the excellence and commitment of leaders in three spheres: public, private, and not-for-profit.

When Hesselbein’s son was young, she was asked to assume leadership of a local Girl Scout troop. She had no daughters, but there were no other candidates, so she agreed to take the troop for six months. She found inspiration in founder Juliette Low, who told girls in 1912 that they could “be anything they wanted to be,” including an aviator. Because Hesselbein had been mocked as a child at school for declaring her desire to become a pilot, the statement inspired her. “Imagine a woman saying that in 1912!”

Upon meeting her troop of 10-year-olds, she introduced herself as their leader — “the first and last time I ever announced myself that way.” As an inexperienced newcomer, she let the girls choose what projects to pursue, what badges to work on, even how to handle the proceeds from their cookie sale. The troop flourished, and she stayed with them until they graduated from high school. She then accepted an appointment to chair the board of the regional council.


The scope of Hesselbein’s ambition was apparent from the start. On the first day of her board job, she brought a copy of Peter Drucker’s The Effective Executive (Harper & Row, 1967) for each staff member, having decided that “his philosophy was exactly what we needed for our governance and management.” She rapidly introduced herself to business leaders throughout the region. She persuaded the president of the area’s biggest bank to personally sponsor her first fund drive, doubling the previous year’s result. She also engaged the support of union leaders in the area and enlisted local congressman John Murtha to chair her first fundraising dinner; he continued to do so for the next 35 years. Invited as the first woman to chair the regional United Way campaign, she recruited a leading executive of Bethlehem Steel to host the kickoff luncheon and the United Steelworkers to host the dinner. Bringing leaders with contrasting interests together in pursuit of a common cause was the kind of audacious, inclusive, results-oriented networking that would become her hallmark.

Hesselbein took the job of national executive director of the Girl Scouts of the USA on July 4, 1976, when the organization was losing membership and struggling with how to attract volunteers now that stay-at-home mothers were no longer the norm. She started with what Peter Drucker called the five fundamental questions for an enterprise: What is our mission? Who is our customer? What does the customer value? What are our results? What is our plan? She commissioned research from top universities on trends affecting girls, to identify the kinds of programs that might help them grow up as independent thinkers and self-reliant, successful individuals. She replaced the iconic Girl Scout handbook with four handbooks aimed at girls of different ages, and switched programs and badges to focus less on domestic skills and more on fields like science, technology, and math. She enlisted Vernon Jordan, then president of the National Urban League, and Robert Hill, the foremost researcher on the black family, to help identify ways to appeal to minority girls at a time when scouting was almost entirely white and middle class. She commissioned promotional materials specifically targeted to diverse communities, quickly tripling minority representation.

Just as important were her efforts to dismantle a fairly entrenched hierarchy; like many other youth organizations, the Girl Scouts had adopted a military structure. Hesselbein began a comprehensive restructuring, drawing new org charts using concentric circles to, as she put it, “free people from being stuck in little boxes.” This new “web of inclusion,” as it would later be described, fostered communication across levels and divisions, enabling teams to come together from across the organization, and giving people scope to make their own decisions. “People flourish when they take responsibility,” Hesselbein observes. “Have you ever met a young person who couldn’t wait to be a subordinate?”

Convinced that high-level training was required to sustain the kind of transformation she was putting in place, she approached learning and development as if the Girl Scouts were IBM or General Electric, often persuading people at the top of their field to donate their services to her cause. She recruited the president of MetLife to raise funds for a state-of-the-art conference center in upstate New York, where she engaged thinkers such as John Gardner, an education and leadership pioneer; leadership scholar Warren Bennis; and Peter Drucker to speak to and work with Girl Scout leaders. She asked Regina Herzlinger, the first female tenured professor at Harvard Business School, to create an asset management seminar to improve financial management in the Girl Scout councils.

At work, Hesselbein viewed her most essential role as recognizing what should not be changed: the organization’s bedrock identity and mission. Despite the wholesale transformation in systems, structures, and service delivery, the Girl Scout Promise and Law, its values and soul, remained untouched.

Nevertheless, her efforts stirred pushback, which she diffused by leaving local councils free to reject most innovations. When traditionalists objected to the redesigned Girl Scout pin, they were told the old one would remain in production and could be ordered if they preferred it. When a number of regional offices were consolidated in New York, the move took place in multiyear stages so people would have time to adjust, even if that made the process less efficient. Her concern was to give people maximum scope to make their own choices as well as “a way to save the face and dignity of people who oppose…initiatives.”

“Doing this is a key principle in managing change and mobilizing people around it,” she explains. “If you act in a dismissive way with those who oppose you, they will never support you, but if you give them time and your respect they will usually come around. Leading this way creates tremendous goodwill. And you need goodwill in a transformation.”

Hesselbein recently noted that “technology and society change, but what people want in their hearts doesn’t change.” Her success and the breadth and robustness of her legacy have to a large extent been built on this understanding. Persuading people to serve — and, as author Jim Collins notes, to feel good about it — is not just something that comes naturally to Hesselbein. It is something she has studied, modeled, and taught, which is why so many leaders see her as inspiration, mentor, and even muse.


Sb-blog-Sally-Helgesen-150x190 Sally Helgesen is an author, speaker, and leadership development consultant, whose most recent book is The Female Vision: Women’s Real Power at Work (with Julie Johnson; Berrett-Koehler, 2010).

This article has been adapted with permission from strategy+business magazine, published by PwC Strategy& LLC. ©2015 PwC. All rights reserved. PwC refers to the PwC network and/or one or more of its member firms, each of which is a separate legal entity. Please see www.pwc.com/structure for further details. To learn more, read the full article “Frances Hesselbein’s Merit Badge in Leadership.”

17 June 2015

From awareness to action – Global Diversity Week 2015

I am excited to share with our Gender Agenda readers that this week PwC firms are bang in the midst of our second ever Global Diversity Week, a wide-scale series of inclusion events that aims to reach every single PwC professional across the globe.  Throughout the week we are hosting a series of inclusion activities that aim to energise and engage all of our 195,000 people on the importance of diversity, valuing difference and inclusion.

I’ve just returned to Dublin from London, where on Monday our Global Chairman, Dennis Nally and Global Diversity Leader, Agnès Hussherr hosted a webcast streamed live to our people across the globe.  Dennis and Agnès were joined by two of PwC’s millennial talent, Nora Bartos, a VAT and Customs Manager from our Swiss firm, and Dwayne Branch a Business Recovery Services Manager based in London.

Diversity Week webcast

This was a compelling conversation on the tough questions we need to have front of mind as we focus on driving diversity change and progress, and set the tone for global and local activities taking place across the network this week. The activities encourage our people to: understand, explore, engage, and commit to action.

Dennis Nally also released a blog on why diversity matters and sent a communication to every person at PwC, releasing innovative tools such as a mythbusters quiz, implicit association tests, and a personal inclusion planner to help everyone commit to action.  Our people will also have a chance to go public with their personal commitments by posting them on our virtual commitment wall.

Finally, on Tuesday, Dennis hosted a Twitter Chat on HeForShe with Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka – thousands joined - spokesperson Emma Watson even chimed in to thank him! Check out the conversation on Twitter using #HeForShe.


Find out more about PwC’s campaign to get 80,000 men to take the pledge and find out how you can get involved by watching the short HeForShe video or clicking here.


For me personally it is so important we all remember that each of us has our own unique life experiences, personality, strengths, and points of view – all powerful tools that we bring to work every day – and that we all need to step up and use those differences to contribute to success in our workplaces. 

Find out more about Global Diversity Week by reading our From awareness to action report.

Be yourself. Be different. 


26 May 2015

A yes vote

This week I am super pleased to introduce you to the newest member of our Global Diversity & Inclusion Programme Office, Bradley Deckert, as he authors his first Gender Agenda blog.  As the Irish member of the team, I may have a bias, but I just love the landmark event, people and location Bradley selected to focus on in his first blog…….

I hope you enjoy it too!



Hi, I’m Bradley, and here’s a bit about me. I started working with Dale and Aoife in September, prior to which I spent 11 years with our US firm supporting many wonderful diversity and leadership development initiatives and leading our LGBT inclusion initiatives. I love to travel, read, grow orchids and spoil my Siamese cats.

I am also gay and followed with interest Ireland’s historic vote to amend their constitution to allow same sex marriage this past weekend.  What has surprised me however as I reflect on this event is the very strong emotional response it has stirred in me, which I believe stems from the fact I feel I have recently developed this strong connection to the Irish people. 

In March I travelled to Dublin for the very first time to attend Aoife’s wedding and memories of my Irish experience remain vividly fresh in my mind (not to mention the experience of an Irish wedding - something I will have to share at another time!).


From the moment I stepped off of the plane from Paris and waited patiently while the immigration official finished a casual conversation with a colleague, I noticed how deeply caring the Irish people are. I observed this again and again, after the sincerely friendly taxi driver, the warm welcome at the hotel, finding myself lost and getting step-by-step directions from the local I asked for help, pub barmen and servers who were just all so concerned that I have the best of experiences, and the wonderful crowd at The George, my new favourite gay pub, who all made me feel so comfortable in their country.

I noticed this at Aoife's wedding as well; while typically I feel weddings are all about the bride and groom, and rightly so, this wedding was also focused on the guests' experience - what music would we like to hear, well thought out seating charts, family members looking for me so they could meet one of the few Americans who made the trip for this experience. The Irish people I met were truly caring, friendly, and wonderful people.

In recent weeks, as I heard the news and followed the stories about the 22 May election to allow same sex marriage in Ireland, I thought, surely all these amazing people I experienced won't vote no? This is a country with people who truly care for other human beings, no matter what, so they have to vote in favour of it! However, after experiencing decades of defeat and also some great wins in LGBT equality in the US, my typically optimistic-self took on a more guarded, cautiously optimistic view on what would happen in Ireland.

But I felt my optimism start to bubble when on vote day Aoife sent Dale and me an email that literally said,

"I need to leave a little early today so I can collect my voting card from my Mum’s house. Today is a really important day in Ireland as we have our referendum on same-sex marriage. But it is not just historic here in Ireland it is historic globally - as we are the first country in which this civil right would be passed based on what the electorate votes ... and I really want to make sure I cast my yes vote."

Well Ireland resoundingly voted yes and made history as the first country to legalise gay marriage based on popular vote.


Thank you, Aoife, and thank you, Ireland, for having my back, and for supporting millions of LGBT humans around the world, you made me so happy this weekend and my connection to you is so much stronger because of this. I look forward to returning to your green shores very soon and I look forward to the rest of the world taking heed and learning from what Ireland has achieved. 


BD2014-001 Bradley Deckert is part of PwC's Global Diversity & Inclusion team that develops and implements global diversity and inclusion strategy for PwC member firms. He also produces relevant communications for PwC's network leadership team and member firm leaders, Human Capitol and Diversity stakeholders, and analyses and reports on diversity key performance indicators. Prior to the global role, he was part of the US firm's national Office of Diversity. Based in Atlanta, US, Bradley has been with PwC for almost 12 years.

05 May 2015

More choices and opportunities for all: Why Dennis Nally is HeForShe


Yesterday, Dennis Nally, Chairman of PwC International posted a CEO Insights blog on why PwC has joined the UN HeForShe movement as a leading IMPACT Champion.

Dennis Nally, PwC Intl Ltd

Click here to read the article and find out more about how PwC is working with the UN and HeForShe IMPACT Champions to bring greater gender equality to the network and beyond.


Dale & Aoife

17 April 2015

What I learned from reading the comics

When I was a young gal, Sundays were my favorite day of the week. I looked forward to the newspaper delivery. I believed that there was only one section in the entire newspaper that was relevant to my progression – comics! It was an art to carefully extract the comics section without leaving the paper in disarray, before my mother read it. A fond memory, indeed.

It is important that this blog entry begins with a memory from my childhood. Like many others, our adolescent years were the time of our lives when we were exposed to a multitude of ideas, beliefs, and values, all of which had served to create a foundation of our character, who we would grow up to be.

Reading the comics section is still a part of my Sunday routine, but it is no longer the most relevant section of the newspaper at this point in my life. In my opinion, comics still provide a laugh, here and there, whether it’s the content or the presentation I find funny. When I came across the one below, I knew I had to share. Upon reading for the first time, I did let out a peel of laughter, but then I began to think about the truth behind the strip. It perpetuates the idea that diversity can only be seen.

©Randy Glasbergen
I do not recall the exact time when I encountered “diversity” or, at least, realized that my skin and my hair were different than the classmate who was sitting next to me.  That was a long time ago. More recently, I attended a predominantly white institution called the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, in the United States. Completing my undergraduate and graduate degrees there, I was actively involved in the National Association of Black Accountants, Inc., and the Black Student Union. In terms of diversity, all I thought about was racial and ethnic diversity. I commonly received questions from visiting high school students asking: “How diverse is UW-Whitewater?” or “How diverse are your Accounting classes?” I would answer in terms of racial diversity, “Well, there are about 13% campus-wide.” or “Depends on what level, possibly 2 or 3 in my classes.” It wasn’t until summer in 2013 when I was exposed to a different way of thinking.

In the summer of 2013, I completed an Assurance internship in the PwC Milwaukee, office. During one of the last days, I attended a diversity event in the PwC Chicago office, hosted by Maria Moats, the US firm’s Chief Diversity Officer, and Reggie Butler, Founder & CEO of Performance Paradigm (also, former PwC Director). There, they presented a topic that opened another set of eyes I didn’t even realize I had! This was my first exposure to diversity of thought, of perspective. Armed with this new information, I was curious if this was a PwC thing or others were talking about it.

Using my trusted source, Google (looking forward to good things with the PwC/Google relationship!), I came across an article, which spoke on this topic. The article, entitled “Diversity of thought should trump racial-ethnic approach,” was written by Teresa Taylor and published in the American City Business Journals in December 2012. Taylor states, “Decades of training, seminars and books have brainwashed managers into thinking that if they have at least one person from every racial and ethnic background, then they’re doing the right thing. But U.S. Census data tells us that by 2050, there’ll be no racial or ethnic majority in our country.” In my opinion, I believe this is a valid argument. Over the years, I have heard many comments surrounding how important it is for teams to physically look like the clients because the clients believed that it would be easier to relate. Beneath the surface, those comments were indirectly aiming at the diversity of thought, which is what the client wished for, but believed that it would come along with the racial diversity of the team. Nowadays, I would not be surprised if there were five people on a team, each with a different ethnic make-up, but came from a similar familial structure, similar socioeconomic background, and similar educational journey. I agree with the changes that the United States is going through in terms of genetic make-up, which is why I believe we need to start focusing more on encouraging conversations around the diversity of thought, not solely focusing on the diversity of race and ethnicity. In order to build the best teams possible and recruit the right individuals to the firm, looking for diversity of thought, as well as diversity of race/ethnicity will go further than solely restricting recruiting practices to one approach versus the other.

Another fun study I came across last year – "The Changing Face of America,” which was published by National Geographic. The photographer, Martin Schoeller, created a photographic catalogue of bi-/tri-racial American citizens to visually show what the country would look like in 2050.  This goes to show that everyone just may end up looking like everyone else with no clear-cut lines of race.

©National Geographic
After reading Teresa Taylor’s compelling article about the value surrounding diversity of thought, I wondered about her stance on women and her perspective on gender diversity, as there is less of a grey area when compared to race and ethnicity.  In my research, I came to find that she authored a book called The Balance Myth: Rethinking Work – Life Success, where she shares her personal stories and thoughts on why women have to merge both, the career and family life, and not keep them mutually exclusive, in order to be successful. It sounds like a great read and one that I will add to my summer list, especially since she has lived that life, as Chief Operating Officer (COO) of a Fortune 200 company and she is from my home state of Wisconsin!

The fact that she authored a book is a great accomplishment, but what caught my attention was her response in an interview she completed with Amy Whyte, at Diversity Executive. When asked: “Why do you think it is important that women don’t have to choose between motherhood and a career?” Taylor replied, “It is essential that women are in the workplace. We represent different points of view; techniques to problem solve and manage differently than men. One is not better than the other. To best represent your customers, employees and shareholders, companies need both men and women making decisions in the workplace.” Yes! I wholeheartedly agree. Just because the conversation needs to ramp up about the diversity of thought does not mean the conversation around gender diversity nor racial/ethnic diversity needs to lessen. Whether it is providing them with various scenarios to expand their business or a wide range of options to increase efficiencies, all are very important in ensuring that our firm is providing the best teams to assist our clients.

At the end of the day, I cannot change my unconscious thoughts. I will recognize the physical differences between myself and the person sitting next to me. That cannot be helped. What I can do is change my active thoughts and the actions and words that are produced because of them.  It is important, for me, to start having conversations surrounding the relevancy of diversity of thought. And, hopefully, before a Sunday in 2050, I will see a comic strip that will perpetuate the idea that diversity cannot be seen.

Sydney1 Sydney Nelson is an Assurance Associate with the PwC US firm, based in Milwaukee, WI. Prior to graduating with a Bachelor's and a Master's degree in Accounting from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, she helped establish the Women in Accounting student organization. She is a member of PwC Milwaukee's Earn Your Future (EYF) Committee, along with the Wisconsin Institute of Certified Public Accountants' (WICPA) Accounting Careers Committee and Strategic Planning Task Force. In addition, she serves on the Executive Board of the National Association of Black Accountants, Inc. - Milwaukee chapter.

03 April 2015

To help your team embrace diversity, make it personal

This week, Strategy& partner and North American diversity leader Kelley Marvros shares her insight.

When I tell junior women whom I mentor that I have cried at work, they are astounded. Isn’t “being emotional” a career killer? On the contrary, I explain, I’ve found that business is built on relationships, and relationships are built on emotion. And studies have shown that creating a compassionate workplace boosts employee performance and engagement. My mentees can look at my own career to see this in practice. After 15 years with Strategy&, I’m a partner with the firm, and its diversity leader in North America.

The initial reaction of these women is telling—it drives home the idea that women tend to view the ways they differ from men in the workplace as liabilities. This mind-set is something I’ve confronted in my career, but didn’t always give much thought to. In fact, it took years for me to understand the true importance of diversity.

Historically, the fact that I was a woman was always less important to me than the fact that I was a professional—proud of the career I’ve built, the clients I’ve served, and the results I’ve helped them create. I grew up in a generation of women that fought to be viewed as equals, to be “the same” as our male counterparts. Thus earlier in my career, when I thought about diversity, it was largely in the context of equal opportunity.

Courtyard - PwC_Rep_Jamaica_Kingston_Caribbean

But as my career progressed, I was asked to take on leadership roles to guide and mentor other women. At first, I was sceptical about how my experience could really help. Then I started talking to women, and immediately saw that we had common threads. We shared personality traits, we shared perspectives, and we shared goals.

We struggled to network, because we didn’t want to “bother” people. When I was trying to make partner, I was hesitant to reach out to current partners to make my case. This extended the timeline of my partnership, until a colleague reminded me that “they call it a partner election for a reason.” You need to campaign to win it. We also thought about how having a family would affect our career trajectory. As a mother of two boys, I stepped off the fast track for four years—a choice I’m now lauded for, but at the time was quite unsure of.

These are just a couple of examples, but of course there are others. Adam Grant and Sheryl Sandberg just published a great piece on “why women stay quiet at work” in the New York Times. I began to realize that these common threads were more than just similarities. Sometimes, they were a way to relate to and inspire women, and help them develop as professionals. Other times, they raised awareness of the challenges that women face, exposing areas where they needed support to overcome barriers.

However, I also saw the difficulty in building that support throughout a company. It’s not that male colleagues don’t want and support gender diversity—they certainly do—but do they really know what it takes? The same question, of course, can be asked of women: I would have always said I supported diversity, but I didn’t really understand it, or how an organization can create a culture of inclusion.  

Counterintuitive as it may seem, embracing differences is an effective means of fostering cohesiveness—because if someone relates to diversity from a personal angle, they can more easily see it from other angles. In a recent Fortune article, PowerToFly President Katharine Zaleski recognized the importance of personalizing diversity. “For mothers in the workplace, it’s death by a thousand cuts—and sometimes it’s other women holding the knives,” she said. “I didn’t realize this— or how horrible I’d been—until five years later, when I gave birth to a daughter of my own.” Personalizing diversity is something that everyone can do. Diversity isn’t only about gender. It is about race and sexual orientation and national origin. It is about age, physical ability, education, economics, family life, religion, hobbies, and all of the other attributes that make us individuals. But even more than that, it is about celebrating what makes you different, as well as what makes others different. Photo_RGB_R_AU_D2_JA_0188201

Maybe you have an elderly or ill parent, and need to adjust your work hours to provide care. Maybe you are a new mom or dad, and decide to work only part-time while your child is young. Or maybe you observe religious practices and holidays that require you to decline work events held at certain times. Think about why you’ve made these choices, and then consider the effect the decisions have had both on your personal life and on your career. The more people think this way, the more they will start to understand the choices that other people make—and that’s when we start to create true workplace diversity.

Taking this view of diversity also makes us better at our jobs. A common opinion holds that diversity brings different perspectives, which in turn helps companies better understand their customers and grow their business. But I think the culture of inclusion also plays a role here, because it enables people to collaborate more effectively and in turn to generate better results.

I have an ulterior motive when I tell young women my story about crying at work. I want them to see how I turned something that may once have been frowned upon into a show of passion, strength, and empathy in the workplace.  And I want them to think about the “weaknesses” they see in themselves—and in others—in a new light.  

Mavros Kelley Mavros is a partner with Strategy&’s digital business and technology practice, as well as the diversity leader in North America. She is based in Chicago. 

19 March 2015

Women in Work – Nordic countries continue to dominate the top spots

The latest findings from our third annual update of the PwC Women in Work Index show that overall performance across the OECD has improved slightly, with the Nordic countries once again paving the way for gender equality in the workplace. Norway remains in pole position (a position it has retained for all the years we have analysed between 2000 and 2013), followed by Denmark, Sweden, New Zealand and Finland (who have all retained their 2012 positions).

Other OECD countries, such as the US and Hungary achieved notable improvements in their performance this year. The UK also moved ahead by four places to 14th, owing to an economic recovery that has benefitted both men and women, but more so for women. However, Poland and Ireland failed to sustain the gains they made thus far, slipping by five and four positions respectively on the Index. Australia and Portugal have also been on a steady decline since 2010, largely due to a widening of the gender pay gap.


More women are in work than ever before. However, the gender wage gap persists. A female worker in an OECD country who works full-time earns £15 less on average for every £100 her male counterpart earns, a gap that has barely narrowed since 2000.

Several factors account for this gap: women are more likely to have their careers interrupted by caring for young children or the elderly, which can affect their income levels when they return to work, if they return at all. Women are significantly more likely to sacrifice their careers due to responsibilities at home. In Europe, the female employment rate decreases by around 12 percentage points in the presence of a child under 12 than without a child, whereas it boosts the male employment rate by almost 9 percentage points. Part-time working may allow women to juggle a career and family responsibilities, but this comes at a price: part-time jobs are typically lower paid, and workers often face dim prospects for promotions and training opportunities.

Women are also more likely to work in lower paid occupations such as nursing, administrative and secretarial roles. In contrast, men tend to work in professional or higher-skilled occupations such as technical and professional roles, or in senior-level management, which are associated with higher levels of pay. Sectors that traditionally employ women also tend to pay less than in male-dominated industries, such as in banking, mining, energy and utilities.

It appears that the gap exists even when qualifications have been accounted for. Research by Catalyst – a thinktank based in the US – found that female MBA graduates from 26 leading business schools in Asia, Canada, Europe and the US were paid US$4,600 less in their first job than men with similar qualifications. In the UK, research by the Higher Education Careers Services Unit (HECSU) has shown that women earned less than men who studied the same subject.1

Although the pay gap in the OECD has narrowed since 2000, it is yet to fully address the underlying structural factors in the labour market that influence the gender pay gap and the share of women in employment. Unless it is addressed, these inequalities will continue to discourage women from the workplace, depriving businesses of half the talent pool.

In the short-term, improving pay transparency via salary reporting requirements could provide women with better tools to detect and address pay discrimination. Longer-term measures include encouraging shared parental leave and access to affordable childcare, which will also enable more women to return to work, and could influence a change in culture where men and women both have equal responsibility for childcare. Take-up rates in countries where similar legislation has been introduced, such as Sweden, Norway, Iceland and Denmark were low initially, but has since increased significantly. Reducing occupational segregation by encouraging women to enter male-dominated industries and improving the representation of women in higher-paying roles and sectors will also help narrow the wage gap over time.

There are no easy solutions for tackling these issues. What struck me most from Lean In is that women are promoted based on performance, whereas for men it’s based on potential. Unless these inequalities are addressed, they will continue to discourage some women from the workplace, depriving businesses of getting the most from half of the talent pool. Women are clearly ambitious and eager to reach their full career potential: our research on female millennials indicates that women rank opportunities for career progression as the most attractive employer trait. We must do more to ensure that women at all levels are fairly recognised and remunerated for their contribution and performance.

Yong 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


1 “Male graduates continue to be paid more than females”, press release, HECSU, 7th March 2013.

12 March 2015

Do it for you: what we learned about feminism from Emma Watson

As a founding 10x10x10 Corporate Sponsor of HeForShe, PwC sent a small team to Emma Watson’s interview at the Facebook premises on Sunday (International Women’s Day – 8 March).  

Our PwC UK colleagues, Chris Lee and Dwayne Branch guest blog this week on their experiences and observations at the event:


"[Feminism is] equality: politically; culturally; socially; economically. That’s it, that simple … Men think it’s a women’s word. But what it means is that you believe in equality, and if you stand for equality, then you’re a feminist…Sorry to tell you. You’re a feminist.”

-          Emma Watson – Actress and UN Women Goodwill Ambassador

We are all feminists

It’s a Sunday evening and we are at Facebook’s offices in Central London listening to a passionate woman answer questions from around the world and talk about her role as the UN Women Goodwill Ambassador. Emma Watson, famous for her role as Hermione in the Harry Potter franchise, has turned her magic to representing HeForShe.  HeforShe is a movement that brings together men and boys in support of the equality of women and girls.

We were lucky enough to attend this fascinating event with over 100 of Emma’s biggest fans who won a place to see her in person.  To be honest, HeforShe was new to us and it may be new to you.  We also didn’t realise we were feminists, but as she talked, it became clear that we are all feminists. And that was ok!

It’s ok to be a feminist

Emma summarised that for some time, society had branded the idea of being a feminist as a negative thing. Feminists were seen as man haters.  However, she explained that feminism is about being who you are and supporting others to be themselves.  It's about challenging what it means to be a woman, and what it means to be a man. It’s ok for men to have emotions and express them freely. It is ok for a woman to be strong and still feminine. You can be who you want to be – we all just need to treat both genders equally.

We heard that most people think that gender equality is fast improving, and that overall society is changing for the better.  There is still work to do. Emma revealed that in just 12 hours after giving an iconic speech at the United Nations on feminism, a hoax website had been set up that threatened to leak naked pictures of her. She also shared some more shocking facts:

  • Globally, about one in three women will be beaten or raped during their lifetime
  • 85,000 women are raped every year in the UK alone
  • In the UK, the gender pay gap stands at 16 per cent
  • In the UK 77% of parliament is male

Gender inequality impacts men too. Men are still afraid to embrace their emotions or be seen as less macho. What is clear is that the fight for gender equality will only be won if we act now and we act together - both men and women.

Both men and women need to play their part

Men should not be scared or feel awkward about speaking up in support of their female counterparts. But equally, women need to accept that it’s ok to be allies with men.

Men aren’t coming to the rescue; men and women are working together equally for equality.

HeForShe02 PwC

Dwayne Branch and Chris Lee at Sunday’s Interview

Changes don’t have to be big

We as men are sometimes confused about how we can really make a difference. The smallest gestures can make the biggest impact. Whether it's thinking about how we view colleagues who work part-time or just letting her pay the bill. It is ok to have a dialogue about gender roles and challenge how we see things. 

PwC is supporting HeforShe:

PwC, along with other large organisations such as Unilever, Tupperware, Barclays, and Accor, are founding impact partners of HeForShe. Dennis Nally, our global Chairman, has committed the PwC network to be at the forefront of gender equality in business.  Visit www.pwc.com/heforshe to find out about the commitments PwC has made to support gender equality.


PwC and the other IMPACT 10x10x10 Champions with Emma Watson at Sunday’s Event

 Want to see more of what Emma had to say? You can watch the full interview here:


04 March 2015

A new era of female talent – is your organisation ready?

This Sunday, 8 March International Women’s Day (IWD) will be celebrated across the globe and at PwC we are marking the event with the release of our The female millennial: A new era of talent publication.  To find out more about the millennial generation (those born between 1980-1995) and their views on the world of work we surveyed over 10,000 millennials in 75 countries, 8,756 of whom were female.

Our research tells us one thing is clear when it comes to millennial women: we really are talking about a new era of female talent.

Female millennials are entering the workforce in much higher numbers than any of their previous generations. They are also more highly educated.  But, this is not the only thing that has changed. They also enter the workforce with a different career mindset. They are more career-confident and ambitious than previous generations.  49% of female millennial career starters (0-3 years’ work experience) believe they can reach the very top levels with their current employers. They rank opportunities for career progression as the most attractive employer trait, and are most likely to have left a former employer due to a lack of such opportunities.

When it comes to earning power and patterns female millennials are trail blazers.  86% of female millennials in a relationship are part of a dual-career couple, and 66% of millennial women who are part of a dual-career couple, earn equal to, or more than, their partner or spouse.  The female millennial is financially empowered.

With the female millennial forming a significant and growing proportion of the current and future global talent pool, organisations who fail to capitalise on the stellar traits of the female millennial will be left with an unsustainable talent pipeline.  Our research identifies a number of key themes that employers must have front of mind if they want to be successful in the attraction, development, engagement and retention of the female millennial.  Find out more in our featured video below:



IWD (6)-01

As a millennial woman it has been highly rewarding to lead this project from concept through execution. It has also been fascinating to shape the story the report shares. I knew that as a 34-year-old millennial woman with 14 years’ work experience, my experiences would be very different than a 22-year-old millennial just starting out in her career. So the report goes beyond a holistic view of the female millennial using a career stage differential.

The report also features lots of great #femalemillennial profiles and case studies.  To download our report, infographics or watch our videos visit www.pwc.com/femalemillennial.



24 February 2015

If you weren't afraid …

Let’s talk about confidence.

If you are -

… just starting out in your career or know someone else that is…

… keen to build your professional confidence…

… looking to become a better leader …

… then join PwC, a panel of experts (Claire Shipman and Katty Kay, authors of The Confidence Code) and Google’s Eileen Naughton, for a crash course in confidence.

This Friday, 27 February at 17:30 London time / 12:30 p.m. New York time, PwC will live broadcast our second global Aspire to Lead Webcast on the subject of confidence: what would you do if you were not afraid?

Though Aspire to Lead is a women’s leadership series primarily aimed at graduating students or new professionals, both men and women and more experienced professionals are encouraged to join as both will benefit from the practical expert tips (click here to sign up – the webcast is free, open to everyone, and will be available as a recording if you cannot make the live event).

To get inspired, watch this short video of some of our awesome PwC female leaders talking about confidence – lacking it, gaining it, and the price we pay when confidence fails us.


Hope you join us on Friday! If you can’t join live please, visit pwc.com/aspire to view the archived webcast and download tools.


Dale and Aoife

09 February 2015

Give me a pension not an iPad!

Men and women, Millennials and Baby Boomers all have remarkably similar expectations when it comes to reward

Despite what many employers may believe, employees still find what could be considered ‘traditional’ benefits most valuable, such as medical cover and a pension. iPads and other gadgets don’t impress. Most would also like more say in the way their compensation package is compiled so that it meets their personal needs more accurately. These are just a few of the pertinent findings from the 2014 Belgian Reward Barometer recently published by PwC and ISW Limits (a Leuven University spin-off). And most hold true for both men and women and across generations.

The Reward Barometer is published annually and reflects the responses of people in Belgium, collected via an anonymous online survey. Respondents cover a wide range of age groups, educational levels and professional roles. The Barometer provides insight into how financial and non-financial rewards influence employee motivation in terms of both engagement and retention. According to this year’s results, employers have much to do if they are to attract, motivate and keep the talent they need to achieve business growth. They would be wise to heed the call.

Men and women may be from the same planet after all

That there were no real significant differences between genders in our survey results is significant in itself. According to the Barometer, while money is understandably a key element of the compensation package, personal development, variety, skill utilisation and how meaningful their job feels are key drivers of job commitment for both men and women. Where slight differences can be seen is in pension and extra-legal benefits, with women reportedly slightly less satisfied than their male counterparts. On the other hand, they are a little more satisfied with their travel time, when visiting clients for example. Women are also less pleased with the flexibility offered by their employer in terms of where and how they work, scoring 3.92 out of 7 compared to 4.49 out of 7 for men.

Not so much a generation gap as an overlap

If there’s no real disparity in reward expectations and what motivates men and women, what about between generations? Do new hires, fresh from university and internships, really think differently about their careers? Remarkably, the answer is also no. It seems that the generation gap – within the confines of this survey at least – is a myth. Indeed, the similarities between generations are more striking than the differences. This may be good news for employers worried about balancing the elements in the reward package to match the desires of an entire workforce.

Millennials (under-35s), Gen X (35 to 50-year-olds) and Baby Boomers (over 50s) all value pension and medical cover most, contrary to the common assumption that younger employees rarely consider the longer term. Also, all ages rank seniority-based pay as more important than rewarding competence or individual performance. This has consequences for employers, creating issues over internal fairness and cost efficiency between generations. It makes seniority-based pay an attractive, albeit potentially inefficient reward for current and future employees.

Most important in current salary packages <35 years (top 5)


 Most important in current salary packages 35 - 49 years (top 5)


Most important in current salary packages >50 years (top 5)


A small number of generational differences do start to appear further down the list of priorities. Millennials emphasise work-life balance and the commute, while these issues become routine and less worrisome as one gets older. Days off are more of a priority for the older generations and provide greater satisfaction. This is understandable as they are more likely to have families and don’t have the social flexibility of young people.

Millennials are unreliable and less loyal – not so!

The survey reveals strikingly similar results for all three generations in terms of their reward drivers, suggesting that the workforce’s values and aims remain fairly consistent over time. This finding shatters the assumption that there is an unbridgeable chasm between the newest recruits and those at the other end of their working life. It also challenges the clichés about the lack of commitment among Millennials; 32% of the X & Y generations say they are highly committed to both the job and the organisation compared to 41% of Baby Boomers. As a result, the generation gap seems to appear between Generation X and the Baby Boomers.


 They may want the same, but there’s no one-size fits all

One thing that that the Reward Barometer makes very clear is that employees - of all ages and both genders - are more likely to work where they feel happy and where they feel valued. It shows that many intended rewards are not valued in the way employers perhaps expect them to be. A huge 73% of respondents want greater flexibility to customise their compensation package in a way that better meets their personal needs. Employers would be better off talking to employees to understand what they really want and whether proposed incentives will work. Whatever the risks employers imagine may come from letting their employees have a say in how to arrange the package, they are almost always outweighed by the benefits of giving people a sense of engagement and empowerment.


Today’s market for talent is extremely competitive and people need to work longer before they can retire. Employers that understand what motivates people to choose a job stand a better chance of attracting the best. If they know what will encourage them to stay, they’re more likely to hold on to them and improve their overall engagement till the end of their career. Companies wishing to understand this and get it right within their specific business context can commission a dedicated survey.


Chart8 Bart Van den Bussche is Senior Manager in PwC’s Belgian HR-Services practice, where he combines individual income tax expertise in respect of employee benefits and employment structures in an international context with experience in the field of remuneration advice and reward aspects in a broader context.


23 January 2015

Emma Watson and PwC at the World Economic Forum: What will men lose?


What do men have to gain from women’s empowerment?

It’s a candid, critical, and often controversial question. When some groups win, don’t others, by default lose?

While the answers to these questions aren’t straightforward, they are increasingly positive as we think about how to increase the productivity, quality of life, and most important, the happiness of every single person around the world.

This morning at the World Economic Forum in Davos, the United Nations launched the “10x10x10 initiative of the HeForShe Campaign, with PwC as a founding sponsor. Created by UN Women, the United Nations entity for gender equality and the empowerment of women, HeForSheis a global effort to engage men and boys in removing the social and cultural barriers that prevent women and girls from achieving their potential and thus together positively reshaping society.

Achieving gender equality requires an inclusive approach that recognizes the crucial role of men and boys as partners for women’s rights, and as having needs of their own in the formulation of that balance.


Emma Watson, of Harry Potter fame, as well as a recent Brown University graduate and UN Women Global Goodwill Ambassador said:

“The groundswell of response we have received in support for HeForShe tells us we are tapping into what the world wants: to be a part of change. Now we have to channel that energy into purposeful action. The pilot initiative provides that framework. Next we need all country leadership, as well as that of hundreds of universities and corporations to follow HeForShe’s IMPACT 10x10x10 so as to bring an end to the persisting inequalities faced by women and girls globally.”

Our leader, PwC International Chairman Dennis Nally, is one of three CEOs who has joined heads of state and universities to commit to getting men more engaged than ever through both education and action.


We’re excited to share more with you in the coming months about how this campaign will come alive and how you can be a part of it.

In the meantime, I must express my acute admiration for Emma Watson: How awesome is she? A role model for millennial men and women everywhere, she embodies the best of the sweeping and positive changes that a new generation of leadership is bringing to the table.

If you haven’t seen her short speech at the UN to launch HeForShe, I promise it’s worth the twelve minutes of your time it will take to watch. At once fiercely intelligent, vulnerable, and confident, Emma promises good things to come of the much-discussed millennial generation, and effortlessly delivers the message that gender parity will benefit everyone.


I’ll end with a reminder for all of our millennial readers to have your say about the world of work in the exciting research study PwC launched last week. Almost 7,000 millennials from across the globe have already shared their views– fill it out or share with friends, colleagues, and everyone else: click here to complete.

#PwC launches global study asking #femalemillennials to share their views on the world of work. Have your say: http://pwc.to/1ILmXdH



15 January 2015

Millennial women - have your say!

This week we bring you the exciting news that PwC is launching a global female millennial research study.

Organisations the world over are currently challenged with a lack of women in leadership positions, and concerned about the competitive and financial toll this could mean for their business.  They are also facing the challenges that come with vast numbers of millennial talent entering and reshaping the workforce.

At PwC, we believe that organisations looking to address the gender leadership gap must drive parallel efforts which tackle enhanced leadership diversity in conjunction with systemic change efforts targeting their workforce from day one.  But to get this right, organisations must first better understand how to attract, develop, and retain female millennial talent.

We have commissioned Opinium Research to conduct a global piece of research focused on the views of the female (and male) millennial.  The survey is open to millennials (those of us born between 1980 and 1995) anywhere in the world – who have worked within the past two years or are due to start work.  

The aim is to help us understand how gender and generation intersect and what this means for organisations looking to develop inclusive talent strategies.  We’ll be delving deeper into the themes explored in our -- ‘Next Generation Diversity, Developing tomorrow’s female leaders’ publication released last March -- so that the work views, needs and desires of the millennial are fundamental to shaping inclusive talent strategies that inspire and engage the workforce and leaders of tomorrow.

Are you a millennial woman (or man) in business – well why not share your views and help shape the inclusive talent strategies of tomorrow?  Simply play your part by investing ten minutes of your time to complete the survey!

We’ll be sharing the findings of our research with you in March, so watch this space!

Want to share this survey with a millennial you know? - simply share the message below via your social media channels:

#PwC launches global study asking #femalemillennials to share their views on the world of work. Have your say:  http://pwc.to/1ILmXdH

22 December 2014

Why I became a feminist: a female graduate’s perspective

The millennial generation has grown up in a world that exposes them to far more technology, globalisation and diversity than the generations before them.  Because of this, employers can fall into the trap of perceiving that this generation view inclusion as the status quo rather than a business challenge they need to prioritise.  Our recent thought leadership publication, highlighted that diversity is very much front of mind when it comes to the female millennial.  In fact, 82% of female millennials said they considered an employer’s diversity and equality record when deciding whether or not to work for them and 52% of millennials (male and female) said that while they believe employers talk about diversity they do not feel opportunities are really equal for all.


I recently had the pleasure of meeting Sheila Cassidy, a very recent graduate hire to our consulting practice here in Ireland.  Like the majority of our consulting hires, Sheila already had a couple of years work experience under her belt before joining PwC.  We had a great chat and naturally ended up discussing diversity.  What really struck me was how attuned Sheila was to many of the malleable barriers organisations are challenged with when it comes to gender diversity at such an early stage in her career.  I wanted to get the message out there so employers can view their workplace cultures through a female career starters eyes and think about what they need to change. 

So I hand you over to Sheila so she can share her experiences.



Two years ago I embarked on a leadership programme in Washington D.C. for the summer.  Throughout the programme something struck me, I noticed differences between the male and female participants.  These differences took various forms; the men were the first to raise their hands with questions, networked with much greater ease and, in general, appeared to have much more confidence than the women on the programme.  This sparked something in me and I decided to do some research. What I found were countless studies supporting my observations. I then began to consider if this could be rooted in the messages we send young girls and how we need to change these. This can begin from a very young age, and I think this video is an illustration of the kind of impact we can have, intentionally or unintentionally.

After completing this programme I re-entered a professional working environment and was more attuned to the challenges faced by women; they weren’t hard to find. I distinctly remember an occasion when I was shown a picture of the senior leaders of the company I had just joined.  There was a glaringly obvious lack of women in the group.  I would like to ask men to imagine sitting down on their first day with a new employer and realising that the vast majority of the senior leaders of the organisation were women. How would you feel?  Would you feel that you had an equal opportunity to progress? For me, this broadcast a clear message that women were at a disadvantage in terms of progression; I was at a disadvantage in terms of progression!

Although I am just starting out in my career, I can already pinpoint many occasions where I have been treated differently to my male peers.  Unlike me, I’ve never heard a man being told to be a ‘good little girl and make everyone coffee’ or ‘not to wear fake tan in the office as guys don’t like it’.

I recall working harder and longer hours than a male peer who sat beside me, yet at the end of the week it was with him that the senior leader asked to play golf.  It’s not just experiences that impact me that I’ve paid heed to; on one occasion I heard the candidacy of a woman being questioned because she was pregnant and might not want to move internationally – surely she should have been allowed to make a choice rather than have one made on her behalf? I’ve seen women display the same assertive behaviours as their male counterparts, however these behaviours are considered ‘bossy’ rather than assertive when displayed by women.

I am always fascinated by the reactions I encounter when I talk about my passion for feminism.  ‘Feminism’ must be amongst the world’s most misconstrued concepts. The primary reaction is that people think I want special treatment. This couldn’t be further from the truth – I want equal opportunity! Gender balance is about creating an environment that is beneficial to, and representative of, both men and women. Gender balance is about a work culture that is free from gender stereotypes for both genders. I think it is equally important that men are not subjected to the pressure to be the chief earner and that they should be given the opportunity to take substantially longer paternity leave.  What’s important is that we all understand a gender balanced environment is advantageous to both men and women. A diverse organisation is advantageous to both men and women.

Since having these experiences I have challenged myself to, in the words of Sheryl Sandberg, ‘lean in’. This has meant pushing myself to be the first to ask questions, to attend networking events on my own, to make sure I am heard; this does not mean that I don’t get nervous doing these things, but I remind myself that leaning in paves the way for others to do so. However, I recognise that women leaning in will not be enough to drive the cultural shift required to enable the required pace of change.  For this, we need male and female leaders to lean in, to engage with this topic and realise they are in a position to make a real difference.

Through this blog post I want to ask leaders to stop and think. Imagine what your organisations looks like to all of the female talent starting their careers.  Are they experiencing a workplace culture you, as a leader, are proud of? 

TGA_CassidyIf the answer is no, what are you going to do to change it?

Sheila Cassidy is based in Dublin and is an associate in PwC Ireland’s Consultancy division. Prior to starting with PwC Ireland this October, Sheila completed a Masters of Science in Management and Bachelor of Law in Queens University Belfast and The University of Newcastle, Australia. Sheila has worked in numerous organisations, including time abroad in London and Atlanta.