Notes: IWD at Accenture

I got to attend Accenture’s International Women’s Day event earlier this year because my friend AMI was speaking. There were a bunch of incredible women speaking, and I took lots of notes.

AMI on stage
AMI on stage

Sheena – Accenture.

“It sounds hard, being a woman in the city. Will it be different for us?” – asked a girl during a school visit. No silver bullet. Innate skills and talents are in ascendency and world realizes much of the world depends on it.

“Influence not autocracy prevails… You just need a phone.”

Social media has the power to make, break or reshape a brand.

Innovation is still the most elusive and sought after trait in business.

As much info every 2 days, as start of world to 2003. Facebook would be the world’s 3rd biggest country after India and China. Surely at a point where everything is possible.

Media Panel

Conversation has changed. Used to be how best to promote. Now people say feminism is dead, but doesn’t think that is quite true. Conversation more intricate, and specific. No one condition for female kind. Huge sense amongst young women that they are outstripping men effortlessly. But her generation, same problems – unaffordable child are, can’t progress. as much to do with parenthood as gender, men struggling with the same things but can’t talk about it.

Discourse around women’s rights is joyless. BMW – bitching moaning and whining. Younger women right, need to match the battles with that attitude. Even if you don’t think you need feminism, being more joy to it. What it means is just equality, on everyone’s interest, everyone had a connection to this.

In education, gender equality not the main issue. Afterwards. Not on the horizons of children he teaches. They are equal, girls do achieve much more highly than the boys. In a classroom, boys loud, girls quietly work away. Know they are going to beat them. It’s not about who shouts the loudest, about who puts the hours in.

No one is in any doubt that brains capable of as much. Not the same battles as the 50s. Now about own self censorship, but own expectations of themselves. Princess nonsense. Girls tie their own legs together with keenness to conform to a gender stereotype. Need a model of femininity that doesn’t involve being thick. That model creates a norm, that is problematic.

Girls taught not to be openly ambitious. Ambition is a dirty word. Women are pushy, have to quietly want. Want it to be the norm to be openly ambitious. This is not just gender, this is British. Don’t know how to fail. Learn to become risk takers, and be entrepreneurial.

Man called woman strident. Wouldn’t say it about a man. Will that happen in the future?

Women willing participants in lad culture. Seen as empowering to participate in jokes. Rape is a “struggle cuddle”. These things are there, women participate in them.

Makes it tougher – tougher course to navigate. Think young women would be more resilient to it, but they aren’t. Really feel under the cosh.

Teach permanence to the thing you publish.

Digital technology could be the great equalizer. People working harder than they ever have, presenteeism is still a real thing. Know a lot of women who self censor because of abuse. Companies not being bold enough to use it to its full attention. People don’t say what they really think because they don’t need to be in a Twitter war.

As a tool it is democratizing. Does benefit women more than men. As a platform the misogyny online is really appalling. Febrile bubbling rage online that doesn’t exist IRL. Is it created by the media?

Spoke to troll on the radio, guy called. Said rape for metaphor, didn’t know what metaphor meant. Said it was just banter. Someone alone in room, very angry. Should ignore and block, but that is hard to do.

Why started wonder women. Guardian/Telegraph?! had a fashion page from 1899 until Thatcher – then merged with fashion. Huge young female demographic, but nothing for them. Inspired by Jezebel. Feminism angry and not purposeful, doesn’t have to be that, can just reflect the daily dialog. Saying things that people want to hear. First ever sex section. Lots of male readers too. More women, but 30% men.

Addressing lack of women, negative representations of women in the media.

Counts number of bylines, and does pie charts. Demoralizing, doesn’t tell you that much, progressive papers don’t so much better. Mail not much worse than the Guardian. Started to find it annoying, because if you write 5000 words about a man goes under this is a man. Feminism not served by framing conversations about gender, but about ideas. Think too blunt, not successful, makes us look foolish.

Everyone is up for analysis. Everyone is meat, e.g picture of David Cameron. Some of the rules we apply if analyzing a woman, don’t apply to men. On radio, comes to stories that haven’t been touched. Evening Standard, only focused on female genital mutilation. Has a female editor.

Sisterhood more important than cultural norm. This has served feminism well, it is it’s strength.

Cherie Blair

Bar in mid-70s. What was that like, for all forms of diversity? Has changed a lot, but may go backwards again.

Had no conception that there was a single big problem, that was being a girl. Was 21 looked about 12. Top in bar finals, at university¬†of London, but told “we don’t hire women, clients won’t like it” or “we have a woman already”. Persisted. End of training, one spot, agreed obviously had to go to the boy. Helped find her another job. Everyone knew she was better, boy didn’t stay long – he was Tony Blair.

Daughter starts pupilage in oct, now 50% are girls. No question of not getting something because she is a girl. More minority ethnic groups. First Sikh high Court judge. Now can be openly gay. Won’t stop you getting in. Things have change, driven by changes in the law, cultural change in the media.

Young people trying to get in, having to work for free for a year. Couldn’t have done it without full scholarship, free education, lectureship. Later you needed to pay for pupilage.

IWD – involved with charities that try to help women. Why would a mentor help? Investing in women makes sense, if want to see growth across the world, invest in women. Conscientious about loans, invest back in family. Three Cs, confidence, capitalism… Trying to build that.

Brought up by two strong women. Realized women have to be strong to succeed. Was chair of the bars IT committee, telling lawyers that it would help them do their job better. After left Downing St, wanted to share benefit of computers with the developing world.

Mobile phone, poor persons access to a world of knowledge. Business women app. Sent business tips. Woman didn’t know what capital was, or P&L. Way of communicating info to people who wouldn’t otherwise have it. 1000 women in 50 countries, teamed up with a mentor.

World is such a small place if you use technology to reach out to others.

What do you think of the challenges for women today? Contradictions. Come so far in some ways. Contradictions of female life in the digital age. If had equality, will don’t need IWD. Nowhere that is the case. Economic participation 60%, political participation 20%. Misrepresentation. Both ways, e.g one woman is a CEO. Film Missrepresentation. What young girls and boys see. Not conducive to healthy relations between men and women. Cannot carry on hurling abuse at people because sitting at our desks and it doesn’t matter.

22% in Westminster, why is it still so bad? Rwanda 60% – will have to start having quotas for men! Lol! Tony Blair did all women short lists. Employment tribunal ruled discrimination against men, Labour Party still does, other parties reluctant. Men worry about taking their jobs, but it’s not about guaranteed jobs, but about competence, who can do the best job?

Have to do something about it. Cannot sit there and think it is acceptable. It isn’t. Need role models.

Very positive. Think despite everything, think for daughter things are going to be a lot better, not least because of technology. Across the world. Hard for someone not to see that things could be better. And men, can’t so it without men thinking the world could be a better place, relationship equal based on mutual support. If we can do that the future is great.

Anne Marie and Mark How


Work in Ads not just tech. In communications, sometimes companies get their communications wrong. Tech is for everyone. 3 things to start with – when Tim Berners Lee invented the Internet, said it was for everyone. Googles mission is to organize the worlds info. Make it universally accessible and useful. Still 5bn people who don’t have access. Creating great pathways for equality – enabler, organizer, setting pace that women can start to outstrip men in. Enables work life balance, and screwing up work life balance. Can be always on. Be able to keep up, have a voice, learn study, get info wherever you are that otherwise you were never able to get. Think about Arab spring, wouldn’t have happened without Internet, YouTube, social media. Internet economy 10% of GDP in the UK. Not just access, also small businesses, that have been so successful they have changed the face of sectors. Organizer of day to day life. Creates safety and a better organized world. Nest not a fire alarm business, remote control of environment, get out the house more. Enable ability to let you know when out of milk, tell person closest. Pace. Pace of change, in education, 60% of grads women, only 17% of Cs grads women. Ability to learn use through social media, women use social media more, buying more online, having voice heard more online.


Little Stemettes. All about the girls going into stem. Was 13% going in, girls outperform girls, these industries are exciting. 2/3 graduate in CS drop out. Don’t do it, those that do, don’t stay. Lots of reasons. Susan Greenfield, writing the same research for 30 years. Put together solution, build a solution. Address girls wanting to go into stem. Expose women to role models, find it fulfilling. Send message that it is getting better. Raise their confidence, important in solving this problem. Not feel imposter syndrome.

There is a pay gap. Smaller in stem. First two years same, then it widens. Product. Pinking and shrinking now not acceptable. Tech and STEM is a better way to leverage and appreciate the perspective of women. Intro tech to rural India. Knock on affect of quality.

4th wave feminism, where did 3rd wave go? We have a voice, people can point out when there is inequality.

Take on where we are in 2014

Thought-provoking. Complexity for women in terms of no one condition for female kind. Gets parcelled up into neat boxes, but it doesn’t fit. We want to keep that debate parcelled up. Need to find integration in everything. Talk about work life integration. Dis-intermediates traditional view of how you have to operate. Integration of generations of women. Some challenges same, some new challenge. Integrate, get them to understand, powerful. School kids powerful, because didn’t edit themselves. Curious, just put it on the table. Self editing.

Whole discussion is irrelevant if we don’t remember why we are having it. To get women into senior leadership. Whole thing about setting role models, we can have this conversation about.

Talk about challenges. But we don’t say how much we love it. Talk about that, how much influence we have. -address pipeline, This isn’t solving itself. We have to be prepared to move it in the right direction.

Rebelled against being a role model. Resented have to be a role model because of the job I’m doing. Do have to, on many levels. Men too. Democratizing work and making it gender less, value people for who they are and what they bring.

Share more of own stories and own styles. If do it, can be humbling to find out how much people get out of it.

Needed to get over self, have fabulous job, get over having to talk about it. Impostor syndrome, being more reluctant to talk about it. If you get to that position, have responsibility to improve the world you work in. Have to break through the rubbish.

Merger with HBOS. Need confidence in own abilities, but don’t need to behave like a man. Haven’t seen a lot of overt, but paternalism. Expect to play little woman, or be differential. Inspired by younger women, who won’t do it. Be confident and capable, get to positions in, because good at job.

Exec committee at Lloyd’s 50:50. Conversation changed, feels more comfortable. Changes the way that everyone behaves. Male only pitches have started to feel odd. Male colleague pointed it out.

Ask headhunters for balance. Have to choose the right candidate.

“Only housewives in Gloucestershire”

Recruitment not the vanguard of this!

What and how, if not careful screen out difference. Including thinking differently. Characteristics that you’ve decided you value, shape the short list.

Being mindful about sending emails over evening and weekend to not make other people work. Conscious degenderizing of approach, flexible work open to everyone.

What wouldn’t you do again?

In that environment, shouldn’t be required to do any more than already. Left out of football conversations, lonely, hard. Wished been herself earlier, but don’t know how would have done that. Not easy. Mentoring would have helped.

Men expected to make the coffee. Aggressive environment. Clique who went to bar. You can fight an environment but sometimes better to move on and find an environment that will suit you better. Find women who will support you.

Hard to advise, own journey is own journey. Coloured by joining at 18 on a level training scheme. Got voice that says don’t have to be the same as everyone else, voice that says are you good enough to be here? Do you have a right to be at that table? Got to point, felt liberated and thought sod it. Be in the conversation, speak up. If it lands well, good, if not, you will get over it.

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