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"A Little Bit Of A WitchHunt Needed" For #Equality

Posted on March 7, 2013 at 8:55 PM

PwC in the UK stole a march on the others in marking International Women's Day 2013 tomorrow - March 8 -by nabbing Lord Davies to speak early this morning at an event.

I was there, and it was impressive - not just Lord D, but the fact that this felt like a very 'gender neutral' event, despite the fact that the audience was largely female and so was the other panel member - Margaret Cole, ex FSA, now PwC - and the moderator, Siobhan Kennedy from my favourite TV news programme, Channel 4 News.

The reason it felt 'gender neutral' I suspect is that it was just very professional - there was an agenda, we talked about what to do about it, people shared their views and ideas - and at the end there seemd to be agreement at least that there is a  multitude of ways in which the UK needs to tackle the problem of its 'female talent pipeline.' Would that the entire debate of the last two years had been at this level.

PwC has research  on women in the UK that is really shocking. It is under embargo until midnight, which I will (of course) be good and observe. So you have to come back first thing in the morning, and read it here before you read it anywhere else....

But let me give you a little flavour here of why I enjoyed being there this morning.

Among other things, Lord Davies said:

" "There's no point in putting 1 woman on the board you need to put 2 - we need more of them'

'If you're not creating a good place to work, you won't attract this younger generation" by which he meant both sexes, flexible working, a demand for more out of life as well as work

"We need a mandatory audit on equality of pay in the financial services sector as banks 'admit it'  (is far from equal by gender) so 'we need to fix it'" 

And my favourites:

"There's something big out there in terms of social change and our politicians need to listen"

"We need a little bit of a witch-hunt on equality of pay in this country - we need to get tough"

And I know you'll like this: "If we don't get to 25% women on boards we should implement quotas - if we do we should aim for 40%." 

(To be honest, I almost forgave him his blind spot on the virtues of our long-established headhunters.)

Siobhan Kennedy was terrific - she made it both personal, and universal.

Among other things she said: "Confidence in the workplace is about acting it even when you aren't - I still work on it". I don't know about you, but that made me feel so much better, I almost misted up...

And as for Margaret Cole, ex FSA, now PwC, she stood very tall. Or maybe it was Mervyn Davies' jokes about being 5'5" and often too short for the lectern that did it.

Either way, I suspect she has a lot of good stories she could tell, and that she doesn't suffer fools of either gender. My favourite from her was this:

Talking about the importance of role models, she mentioned Westminster. 

"Politcs is televised so we hear & see use of comments like 'calm down dear' from our leadership (which isn't helpful)" Remember who said that ? I do believe it was David Cameron, our Prime Minister.

The gist of the event was the fundamental social change that is needed to get this country back on track towards true equality - not for a moral imperative, but for economic growth. Otherwise, as Lord Davies said, we face "real dangers 15 years on."

Watch this space, and remember to return tomorrow (or if keen after midnight tonight UK time)  on International Women's Day 2013.

Categories: Women, Pay, Equality