The speakers, which included PwC partners and board member and head of people Gaenor Bagley, were addressing over 160 students from across the UK, at PwC’s London office as part of the firm’s global Aspire to Lead initiative.
The panel followed a live webcast with Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, in which she discussed the new graduate version of her bestselling book on women’s role in the workplace, Lean In.
Addressing the audience from Facebook’s California headquarters, Sandberg reiterated the point made in her book, that diversity in the workplace is important to the success of businesses.
“Organisations that have more diversity make better decisions.” But, she said, there is still a long way to go. “My generation is not going to get any closer to 50/50 in leadership roles.”
Progress has been made, the London panel argued. “There’s a momenum and an energy that’s happening,” said Tracy Groves, PwC partner.
Nick Jarman, PwC partner, said that in order to change the culture of the workplace, the profession “needs to keep talking about it”.
He said, “We will make faux-pas, but we need to keep having the conversations.”
There have been increasing conversations about the women in leadership roles. In March this year it was estimated that FTSE100 companies are set to achieve their target of 25% women on boards by 2015. While a recent PwC survey demonstrated that many women still believe that they are at a disadvantage to men when putting themselves forward for promotion.