The leaking pipeline: Where are our female leaders?

The leaking pipeline

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As part of its action plan for 2007, PwC’s Gender Advisory Council embarked upon a programme which could be described as “Learning from Leaders”, in which interviews with 79 of PwC’s female leaders in Australia, Canada, France, Ireland, South Africa, the UK and the USA were conducted across a two month period. The findings from the research are contained within this report, together with a summary of current analysis and thinking on the topic from a variety of global academics and educational institutions.

The publication sheds light on the various obstacles faced by women as they rise within the ranks of professional services organisations and provides recommendations for companies wishing to build gender diversity in order to increase the bottom line, while still promoting the advancement of women in the workplace.

Some of the findings of the research:

  • Female leaders at PwC identified "stepping stone" opportunities—major developmental milestones in their careers—as the most common critical element in helping them advance in a male-dominated workplace.
  • In most cases, amongst the 79 women interviewed, her career was advanced by a mentor who took a personal ongoing interest in her advancement, and provided her with the right developmental opportunities at the right time.
  • Other experiences identified by the PwC women as stepping stones were moving to a different office within a given country or to another PwC firm, taking a role in Human Capital or Training management, and working with prestigious clients early in their careers.
  • Many respondents noted the importance of building cultural awareness of subconscious gender stereotypes and responding positively to situations when management took a “risk” by appointing females to leadership roles.