An open letter to Ernst & Young. Shame on you.

Today, my blog post will be a bit of a rant.
But one that I do not apologize for.

In 1963, the Equal Pay Act protects men and women who perform substantially equal work in the same establishment from sex-based wage discrimination.

In 1964, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act was enacted, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

In 1972, Title IV (A portion of the Education Amendments) stated that: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance…”

And in 2009, President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act which amended the 1965 Title VII Civil Rights Act and re-enforced the right of equal pay for equal work.

Why do I bring all of this up?

Well, on June 14, 2013 the Puget Sound Business Journal published and included a paid advertising insert by Ernst & Young called “Entrepreneur of the Year”.

The qualifications of this award was as follows:
*Entrepreneurial spirit
*Financial performance
*Strategic direction
*Community/global impact
*Personal Integrity/Influence

The “categories” for awards were:
*Lifetime Achievement Award
*Business Services
*Consumer Products & Manufacturing
*Financial Services
*Food & Beverage
*Healthcare and Insurance

There were 22 winners in total.

They were all men.

Not once did someone think “hmm…. this is curious, all the winners are middle-aged guys, and the Puget Sound is one of the most culturally diverse places in the US.”
“hmmmm ….. there is not one woman who is celebrated as ‘the best’, even though Seattle is one of 10 top cities for Women-owned businesses”.

Shame. On. You.

Shame on you Ernst & Young.
Shame on you for not putting a little more thought energy and effort into celebrating the rich diversity which thrives in Seattle (and the surrounding areas). Shame on you for just celebrating the group of male ‘cronies’ without once considering that women are 50% of the population and own more than 10 million businesses around the country. Further, in the United States alone, women business owners employ more than 13 million people and are generating $1.9 trillion in sales. Not only that, women-led businesses are one of the fastest growing types of the small businesses—a rare bright spot in today’s sluggish economy, increasing nearly 60 percent since 1997. Lastly, according to the National Association of Women Business Owners’ (NAWBO) 2013 State of Women-Owned Businesses Survey, 2013 looks to be the “Year of the Female Entrepreneur,” with women business owners’ optimism at high levels (81 percent) on the opportunities that lie ahead.

Shame on you.

Shame on you Greg Beams (The Seattle Assurance Partner and Entrepreneur of the Year Program Director for Ernst & Young) for overseeing this flagrant foul. ESPECIALLY from a company whose tag line reads: “quality in everything we do”.
This is NOT quality.

Shame. On. You.

(I should also note here an “honorable mention” in the “Shame on you” category to the Puget Sound Business Journal for not looking at this and thinking “This could reflect poorly on our publication.” or “This isn’t the kind of public image we want to endorse of be a part of.”)

Shame on all of you.

In my very short lifetime, I have seen the glass ceilings break from Capitol Hill to the corporate boardroom and everywhere in between. My sister and I had parents who taught us that we could do anything. Encouraged us to take risks, and live our lives to the fullest. Both of my parents own their own businesses, treated each other as absolute equals (sharing both the bread-winning and house-hold chores) and have always encouraged us to value creativity and hard work. I know that my sister and I have carried these values into the workplace and into our lives. This instilled the confidence to pursue our dreams on our own terms.

I KNOW for a fact that there are thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of families just like ours all over the world. Families which include, support and build dreams of millions of young girls.

Articles and “awards” like this do nothing to build confidence in young women who dream of starting or running their own business. Instead it just reinforces the patriarchal system which is an OLD and OUT OF DATE way of thinking and living.

These awards mean nothing. In fact, they do the opposite.

They just show a very large part of the population that Ernst & Young does not value the financial, creative, innovative and positive influence that women have had on this community through their businesses. They show that they are not willing to step out of the box of an old and outdated way of thinking, and look to the future.

And because of that, Shame. On. You.


One thought on “An open letter to Ernst & Young. Shame on you.

  1. Thanks for bringing light to this issue. I think the only way some people are made to realize they can’t get away with same old thinking is when someone says “yes, we noticed. You may have thought we wouldn’t notice, but we did. And we’re talking about it!” Then they must change and start looking at their behavior so it stops reflecting poorly.

    Love it when you bring up women in society trends.

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