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PwC Gender Agenda Blog Would Have You Believe All Women Are Shoe Crazy

Want a laugh? Check out PwC's Gender Agenda blog. Granted, no one's bothered to update it since October so your laughs will be old and crusty but hey, they're accountants, not writers, who expects them to actually update the blog they took the time to create and populate?

I don't know about you but I especially enjoyed this account by two PwC Bermuda dames who used a shoe shopping spree as social lubricant to tempt their women's networking group into bonding. As a woman who couldn't care less about shoes, I have to say this is pretty obnoxious. With a title like High Hopes In High Heels (yes, that title is serious), you can guess where this is going:

What do you get when you put 60 women in a designer shoe store…

…the first women’s networking event sponsored by PwC Bermuda. Oh, and maybe a bit of retail therapy.

Borne out of feedback from the women of our firm, there was a strong desire to have a forum for formal networking with other professional women in Bermuda.  Now I know what you are thinking…is that really necessary in Bermuda, one of the smallest territories in the world?  Overkill surely! 

Well on the face of it you are right, on an island with a total area of 20 square miles you can’t go more than a few steps without seeing a familiar face, however, with many of us being ‘guest workers’ we have probably devoted more time to focusing on building friendships, rather than networks since we have been on the island and therefore could probably benefit from transitioning from social to strategic networking.

It took a session on “Networking Strategies for Women” hosted by our women’s networking group, known as aware (Advancing women through Attracting, Retaining and Empowering) for many of us to recognise this.  The gender dynamics of networking are fascinating.  According to a study conducted by Dr Wanda Wallace:

– women focus more on vertical rather than horizontal relationships
– men spend more time connecting with their peers
– more women have negative views of networking as too transactional and  a “waste of time”
– men view networking as critical to their business role.

For many of us in the room, this was an “a-ha!” moment. It was time for us to take action. What networking event could we hold that would have broad appeal to our female client base?  A  shopping fund-raiser, scheduled to mark the centenary of International Women’s Day seemed like the perfect choice.

The feedback from our clients was overwhelmingly positive.  They appreciated having the opportunity to grow their networks in a relaxed, fun environment.  Even for those women who would not describe themselves as ‘a natural’ the shoes were ice breakers for starting conversations.  There are certain things in a woman’s life that connect us and cross the divide: the words “Jimmy Choo” can evoke a strong reaction as well as create a bond. 

In reflecting back on this, there is definitely something to this thing they call networking.  However it is up to us as women, to actively make it work in a manner that is effective for us, that helps us to develop our business opportunities. For once, the men may just be onto something here, but it definitely needs a women’s touch. Although I am not sure our VISA cards would agree…

This is a joke, right? It reads like a tampon ad, not a manifesto demanding women be taken seriously in the workplace. What about perpetuating the ridiculous stereotype that all women are obsessed with shoes is empowering? The authors write "it is up to us as women, to actively make it work in a manner that is effective for us, that helps us to develop our business opportunities" but all I gather from reading this is that a bunch of chicks went shoe-shopping and trashed their credit in the process. Call me out of touch but where is the strength in that?

Don't get me wrong, I love spending money. It's one of my favorite things to do. And if my sisters want to blow their FRNs on shoes, more power to them. But it seems to me if PwC really wants to make strides in the area of gender equality, they might want to try screening these posts and getting serious instead of turning such an important issue into an episode of Sex and the City. For the authors – females themselves – to make such broad assumptions as "there are certain things in a woman’s life that connect us and cross the divide: the words “Jimmy Choo” can evoke a strong reaction as well as create a bond" basically punches the last 40 years of women's lib right in the nuts and puts us right back in a 1950s kitchen Lysoling our lady parts for our men.

Way to be on the forefront of gender equality, PwC.

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