PwC email and subsequent reporting

On the eleventh of November executives from PriceWaterhouseCoopers in Ireland were outed for distributing, and acting upon, an email designed for male employees to rank female employees to find the “top 10” attractive women. On the scheme of things this circulation was relatively small – 17 men within the office. What has happened since is a disgrace. This email has been picked up by several media outlets and published in its entirety. (I’m choosing not to link to these sites for the sake of the women involved.)

Besides the email there are the accompanying articles which typically miss the point of the affair with lines like “Judge for yourself. (Don’t get all exercised; there’s nothing pornographic, it’s standard company photos and titles.)” To make matters worse the articles include an array of ridiculous comments, including one website which gets readers to rank their take on the story with 53% (at time of writing this) who find it “hilarious”. Other comments include:

 “Ugh. *Those* are the women they think should vie for the Top 10? Glad I dont (sic) work in Ireland…” and “What…this is good clean fun, I am sick of this Commie PC Bullshit, this goes on in every office…no harm no foul, every corner you turn there is some feminist yahoo trying to cut your nutz off. Leave these guys alone.”

 The there are also comments from women within the industry who say that this is nothing new. Meagan Light notes:

 “These big firms can pretend they’ve evolved past “old boys club,” but I think we all know by now that’s a lie. Back when I worked at PwC a similar email was passed around but had NCAA bracket-style macros so 64 girls could be ranked against each other to make the “Final Four.””

In my brief search (the kind most people searching for this information are likely to do) I only found one article, Rated Like Prized Cattle which emphasises the professionalism and talent of the women and does not include images of them or samples of the email.

Not only is this behaviour offensive, but the reporting of it is as well. I understand the need to provide evidence that the email exists, but what about blurring the women’s faces? In instances where the photos are included the articles are reported with a sense of the readers as part of the “in crowd”, being invited to join along in the fun. Not protecting the identity of these women increases the reach of this email, and adds to their internet identity forever. I hope this is considered in any legal suits which ensue from this.

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