Women caught up in 'sexist email' inquiry
Published 11/11/2010 | 05:00
A full probe was under way yesterday at one of the country's biggest accountancy firms after it emerged that pictures of young women who had just joined the company were emailed around and nominated for a "top 10".
Senior management at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) have become involved in an inquiry into the grading by male staff of the attractiveness of their female colleagues.
The Irish Independent yesterday revealed that a series of emails was sent around with pictures of the 13 women, along with some derogatory comments.
PwC, which employs 2,000 people in Ireland, instigated the investigation after the Irish Independent alerted the firm to the emails on Tuesday.
Last night, a spokesperson for the company said the matter was "extremely serious", and that "top management" had been made aware of it.
"We are taking this matter extremely seriously at the highest level and have commenced a full investigation," the PwC spokesperson said.
"We are taking all the necessary steps and actions in accordance with our firm's policies and procedures."
The emails were circulated between a group of up to 17 male members of PwC staff before they were forwarded outside of the company.
The initial email, which was written at the end of October, is entitled "This would be my shortlist for the top 10".
The three men named prominently on the emails last night could not be contacted for comment on the matter.
The women recently joined the firm as "associates", or first-year accountancy trainees.
They are expected to work there for between three and three-and-a-half years.
One of the men who forwarded on the emails asked that his name be removed if they were forwarded again to others.
Discussion about the emails and what implications the PwC investigation would have was rife among the financial community yesterday.
The PwC spokesperson declined questions on what manner the investigation would take.
"I am not in a position to make any further comment at this point and time," she said.
The emails went viral after the issue emerged and have now been forwarded around the country.
PwC is one of the largest financial services companies in the world and ranks as one of the so-called Big Four.
Staff from the company acted as auditors for Anglo Irish Bank and a team was recently sent to Allied Irish Banks by the National Treasury Management Agency.