They were advised not to speak to men face-to-face because it might appear “threatening”

By Kimberly Truong
Oct 23, 2019 @ 3:15 pm
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Women at professional services firm Ernst & Young were subjected to a sexist workshop at the company, according to a report from Huffington Post

The outlet obtained a 55-page presentation, shared by an anonymous attendee, which was used during a voluntary day-and-a-half seminar on leadership and empowerment held in the office in Hoboken, N.J., in June 2018. In it, women were advised to look healthy and fit, with a "good haircut" and "manicured nails," to "speak briefly," and not to be shrill. The training, called Power-Presence-Purpose or PPP, was given to 30 women, focused on self-improvement and fitting into a male-dominated workplace. 

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Before the workshop, women were also given a "Masculine/Feminine Score Sheet," which asked them to rank how well they lined up with traits stereotypically associated with men or women. Characteristics on the male side included things like "acts like a leader," "strong personality," "athletic," and "independent," while the female side included "eager to soothe hurt feelings," "shy," "gullible," "loves children," and "cheerful."

An attendee of the workshop, who went only by Jane, told HuffPost that she was also told during the training not to speak to a man face-to-face, because "men see that as threatening." Instead, women should "cross your legs and sit at an angle to him." She also said attendees were told that women's brains were 6% to 11% smaller than men’s, and that women were instructed to wear "well-cut attire that complements your body type," and were told not to flaunt their bodies, as "sexuality scrambles the mind."

The training session took place a month after Ernst & Young settled a sexual assault lawsuit with former partner Jessica Casucci, who said she was sexually assaulted by a male partner, but the workshop itself did not focus on sexual assault and harassment.

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In a statement to HuffPost, Ernst & Young said that the training was provided by "an external vendor" after some women in the company requested it, and that it is no longer offered in its current form. 

"Professionally, PPP was the most impactful leadership program that I have had the opportunity to participate in and I have always been incredibly proud and humbled to have been a part of it," EY senior executive Stacey Moore, who participated in the training four years ago, said in a statement provided by the company to HuffPost. "I am forever grateful to the firm for the opportunity and the investment in our women."

In a longer statement to The Hill, an Ernst & Young spokesperson said the program was "under review and has been canceled."

"This voluntary program, which was delivered to a small group of EY professionals, does not reflect EY’s values or culture and should not have been offered to any of our women," the spokesperson said. "To ensure this can never happen again, we are undertaking a comprehensive review of our processes and controls around program content as there is no question that elements of the program included offensive content that is inconsistent with our core beliefs."

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