An Ernst & Young seminar reportedly suggested women have small brains and said they should avoid talking to men face-to-face

REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
  • The HuffPost reporter Emily Peck wrote Monday that she had obtained a 55-page Ernst & Young presentation advising women to get manicures and not to address men face-to-face.
  • An anonymous former employee also said the presenter suggested women had smaller brains and got easily distracted.
  • EY has faced at least two public sexual-harassment complaints since the start of the #MeToo movement.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Ernst & Young, the major accounting firm previously embroiled in sexual-harassment suits, reportedly advised women to look “fit” and not to address men face-to-face.

The HuffPost reporter Emily Peck wrote Monday that she had obtained a 55-page EY presentation on leadership rife with negative stereotypes that women were not “ambitious,” shouldn’t challenge their male colleagues, and must not dress provocatively.


Read more:
Lower pay, more harassment: How work in America has failed women of colour

EY told HuffPost it no longer used the version of the presentation mentioned in the story and clarified that the training was hosted by an “external vendor.”

Per Peck, some of the more bizarre practices of the EY Power-Presence-Purpose training (as it was called) included:

  • Women were encouraged to “signal fitness and wellness” by getting manicures and wearing flattering clothing – yet were told not to “flaunt their body.”
  • Attendees had to rate how “masculine” or “feminine” they were before the training. Masculine adjectives included “ambitious” and “has leadership abilities”; feminine adjectives included “shy” and “childlike.”
  • Women were told to sit cross-legged and not to make face-to-face contact with men at work.
  • The presenter claimed women had smaller brains than men, a former EY executive director who wished to remain anonymous told HuffPost. She added that the presentation said women absorbed information “like pancakes,” making it hard for them to focus.

The presentation also had a breakdown describing differences between men’s and women’s speaking styles, saying women ramble and “miss the point” when they communicate and “think men hog air time.”

Studies show men interrupt women and dominate workplace conversations: A 2014 study found women interrupted men just once during three-minute conversations, while men averaged 2.6 interruptions of women during those three minutes.

EY did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for additional comment.

The training reportedly occurred in June 2018, at the height of the #MeToo movement as women across the US shared stories of sexual harassment at work. EY itself faced two sexual-harassment complaints, while the rival accounting firm Deloitte fired 20 partners for misconduct.

Promoting gender stereotypes at work may also result in excluding nonconforming employees. Half of LGBTQ employees have experienced verbal discrimination at work, and queer people have high rates of workplace sexual harassment.

Read the full HuffPost story on EY’s Power-Presence-Purpose presentation here ยป

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