Irish PwC Employees Email "Top 10" Women

The Story

Employees at the accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers in Dublin shared emails identifying their picks for best looking female employees.  Seventeen male PwC employees are said to be involved in the incident, which is now being investigated by firm management.


Discussion Starters

  • What do you think of the 17 employees' behavior?  Would you characterize this as inappropriate, sexist, harmless fun-or something else? 
  • How do you think the women reacted when they found out about the email?
  • The email that was circulated had the standard boilerplate at the end of the message, including the following message: "Voted one of the Best Workplaces in Ireland for 8 years running."  Should the company change this? 

Assignment Ideas

  • This is management's official statement about the incident: 

"We are taking this matter extremely seriously and are launching a full investigation. We will take all necessary steps and actions in line with our firm's polices and procedures."

Imagine that, after completing an investigation, you find the evidence to be true: 17 employees did circulate this email with photos of the "Top 10."  Now write an article for the company blog addressing the situation.

  • Imagine that you're one of the men who was involved in the incident.  Write an apology email to women at PwC.  This should include women who were on "the list" and those who were not-it's likely that women in both groups would take offense.
  • Write a report to analyze whether this situation would have been different in an American company.  You might research differences in pay and status for women and men in corporations.  Or, you could take the legal route and explore differences in legislation, which might impact how this situation unfolded and how it should be handled.   Or, you could analyze cultural differences and explain your perspective through a cultural lens.