PwC people chief admits high heels ’embarrassment’

PwC has admitted that it is embarrassed by the high heels scandal and it has learned the lesson to ensure that suppliers’ policies match its own values.

The consultant’s top personnel officer added that she supported the sentiments behind the petition launched by receptionist Nicola Thorp to ban forcing women to wear high heels at work.

However it has already made its supplier, Portico, change its policy and was addressing other suppliers to ensure their values met its own.

Executive board member and head of people Gaenor Bagley said: “It is embarrassing that a business like ours which puts diversity at our core has been at the centre of the debate about high heels at work.

She added: “And we have learnt the hard way that the employment policies of your supply chain should match-up to your own values.

“We think it is right that our supplier has changed their policy and we are reviewing our suppliers’ employment polices to ensure they match our values.”

The big four consultancy has worked hard to build a culture of diversity and inclusion within its organisation, including being one of the first firms to publicly publish its gender pay gap.

However last week’s revelation may have damaged that reputation, although it has acted quickly to address the issues raised.

Bagley conceded that all of this faded into the background if attention was not paid to the finer details that affected people in their daily working lives.

“I wanted to reassure you that we are committed to equality in the workplace and we’ve taken bold steps to ignite change. Miss Thorp’s experience shows how hard it is to ensure we do this for each and every interaction, but there is no excuse for not tackling it, and we will,” she said.

Thorp’s petition against the Portico policy, which supplied receptionists to PwC’s offices, has since exceeded 100,000 signatures and will therefore prompt a debate in Parliament.

Related reading