On 8 March, the world celebrates International Women’s Day.
The World Economic Forums’ Gender Gap Report 2017 revealed that there is a widening gender gap in the world, which can also be seen in the persisting differences between men and women’s wages. The report shows that it will take 217 years (compared to 162 years calculated in 2016) to close the gender gap. PwC's view is that Gender equality is not a women's issue. It needs all of us to work together to progress towards equality. This what we do contribute towards equality.
The PwC Partner view
PwC's view is that it needs all of us to work together to progress towards equality. This is what our firm's Senior Partners say about gender equality.
Vision and strategy
To achieve our goal, we need a vision and strategy for PwC to take the right action towards gender balance. Our CEO, Urs Honegger, is highly committed to moving the needle:
I believe gender equality means business. Therefore, the management board and I are committed to increasing the proportion of women partners in our pipeline to 20% by 2020. To achieve this, I want to engage in an open discussion about our culture and values, delegate co-ownership for women employees to the management board and foster equal promotion opportunities and equal pay for women.
Gender equality is not just a hot topic at PwC Switzerland. Most companies face the same gender structures. What can we do? Here is what Clive Bellingham, Partner in Advoisory Services says:
PwC and other leading employers in the Swiss market should lobby political and educational bodies for change. The establishment needs to adapt to the needs of employers and employees alike.
A client imperative
Our clients increasingly expect or even demand that we deploy diverse teams. As a firm, we must therefore respond to this reality in order to secure our long-term growth. Dieter Wirth, Partner in Tax and Legal Services points out:
It is essential to be attractive for women because we need to access 100% of the talent pool and we need to understand 100% of our clients.
Based on current demographic changes, Switzerland will soon be faced with a labour shortage. Here is what Hanspeter Gerber, Partner in Assurance thinks about this:
A career to partnership is not what all PwC employees envision. Many women (and men) seek a different life goal than just the ultimate corporate career, which is why we lose many talented female colleagues – most often at manager level. If we can imagine vertical instead of horizontal career paths (i.e. where you become a subject matter expert in a certain field and stay at manager or director level), we will be able to attract and retain more talent in the future.
Benefits for our outcomes
Multiple studies have demonstrated that diversity allows teams to perform better and be more innovative. Alexander Schultz-Wirth, Advisory Partner shares this view:
Diverse teams look at a problem from different perspectives and come up with a more holistic solution.
Partnering men and women to achieve visible results in gender equality is not only a necessity, but also a form of mutual enrichment for both genders. Peter Lüssi, Assurance Partner discusses his experience as a mentor in the Women Mentoring Programme.
One key thing I learnt from the mentoring was that I was not only able to support a promising young talent in her career, but also gain a lot of insight about myself and the future generation per se.
The blind spot of gender stereotypes
Stereotypes are beliefs we hold about people because they are from a particular group, or because we have mentally placed them in a certain category e.g. "all men/women are like that" What can you do about this? Ask yourself before you evaluate somebody: "If that person were of the opposite gender or a different culture, would I think the same?" Rolf Birrer, Assurance Partner says:
Speaking of stereotypes, I noticed that there are certain situations where women ask ‘Can I do it?’ whereas men say ‘I can do it!’ This has an impact on how other people perceive you and ultimately how they evaluate you.
More than 80% of PwC’s global workforce are millennials, and our extensive millennial research indicates that work-life balance is important to nearly all millennial talent (97%), irrespective of their gender or family status. Jürg Niederbacher, Partner TLS, notes:
If you are doing an excellent job, you will be equally valued, no matter if you work full-time, part-time or remotely from home. This is true for both male and female colleagues and we as a firm have to be open to adapt to the changing demands of our staff. I know from own experience that this is not always easy but you realise it is worth doing it when you experience the result.
Flexible working demands team coordination
Working flexibly also impacts how teams work together. Bruno Rossi, Partner ASR, says:
When working remotely or part-time, all team members need to communicate transparently about their availability and support each other. I personally restructured my day around my family needs and worked again later in the evening, when my kids where in bed.