Some candidates had been held because of concerns about their interpersonal skills. PW consistently placed a high premium on a candidate’s ability to deal with subordinates and peers on an interpersonal basis and to promote cordial relations within a firm which is necessarily dependent on team effort (18). The Policy Board weights negative comments more than positive comments. However exceptions were given to 2 of the partners for fearing of loosing them to competitors as well as valuing their specific skills (19).
Approved candidates’ names appeared on a ballot for partnership-wide election. For admission to partnership, 2/3 of the entire partnership had to approve a candidate (20). Hopkins’s initial project began in the fall of 1978. It was one of four major assignments during her Price Waterhouse career. The first was for the Department of Interior. It consisted of two contracts worth approximately $200,000 each, one of which she later managed. The second client was the Department of State.
Hopkins was in charge of developing a proposal, in competition with 11 other contractors that led ultimately to a State Department contract whose long term value to Price Waterhouse was $35 million. The third project was for the Department of Agriculture, a proposal valued at $2. 5 million 42 for work for the Farmers Home Credit Administration. ” The fourth was also for the Department of State and involved implementing a worldwide real property management system, valued at $6 million (21).
In mid-1982, Thomas Beyer, the partner in charge of consulting services at OGS told Hopkins over lunch at the International Club that he would propose her as a partner in the admissions cycle about to begin (22). Thomas Beyer then had the first of a series of conversations with Ann Hopkins about how she could improve her chances for partnership, and gave her advice about her hair, makeup, clothing, and jewelry. Hopkins said she found these conversations offensive (23).
By the summer of 1982, Ann Hopkins was focusing her time on projects other than the State Department work. She participated, along with several partners, in an MAS Quality Control Review in the Houston offices. Ann Hopkins later complained to one of them about his writing obscene anatomical references, such as “This is where our balls are on the line,” in the margins of his work papers (24). Thomas Beyer next assigned Ann Hopkins to manage the St. Louis office’s proposal for the design of an automated accounting system for recording and tracking loans to farmers.
The client was Farmers Home Credit Association, a U. S. Department of Agriculture agency with major data processing operations in St. Louis (25). In March 1983, the admissions committee recommended that Hopkins be held “at least a year to afford time to demonstrate that she has the personal and leadership qualities required of a partner” (26). The policy board adopted the admissions committee’s recommendation and suggested that Hopkins participate in a quality control review (27).
Ann Hopkins learned from Lew Krulwich, a partner at OGS, that the reason for not promoting her was that she had irritated some senior partners (28). According to Ann Hopkins, some of the nominated partners were “not competent to lick her boots” and that one had worked for PW for less time than her (29). Ann Hopkins went to New York to meet with Joseph Connor, the firm’s chairman, and discuss the decision. She asked him how to overcome the “hold” and make it an “admit. ” Joseph Connor told her that she had to undergo a quality control review and come out of it with no negative comments.
When Ann Hopkins asked what her prospects were, Joseph Connor replied, “Fifty-fifty”, and Joseph Connor also advised her to relax and “to take charge” less often (30). According to Hopkins, Thomas Beyer suggested she “soften her image in the manner in which she walked, talked, dressed. He later said that “when she comes into the office or starts walking down the hall, it is with a lot of authority and forcefulness. However, it does not always appear in the same view or in the same manner to other people.
He further advised her to use less profanity and to alter her voice tone, to “look more toward appearing more feminine,” to wear more jewelry and make-up, to style her hair, and to dress less in “power blues” (31). Thomas Beyer also suggested that she stop smoking, not drink beer at lunch, and not carry a briefcase. ” Ann Hopkins said she explained that carrying a briefcase was easier for her than managing a handbag, a suitcase, and a briefcase simultaneously. She later said she did not wear make-up because she was allergic to it.
Even if she weren’t she said, “applying make-up would be difficult because she can’t see without her trifocals” (32). Soon after this, two of the OGS partners who had nominated Ann Hopkins withdrew their support for her. The reason one of them gave was the difficulty he had with her as a senior manager and his concern that problems would grow worse if she acquired the power and authority of a partner (33). He complained that she routinely barged into his office, got her business done, and barged out again.
The incident that changed his mind, he said, occurred at a time when he was understaffed and Ann Hopkins offered him one of her staff members, only to withdraw the offer the next day. According to the partner, she had insisted on making the offer without qualification, refused his suggestion that she think it over for a day, then told him the next day that he could not use the staff member she had offered (34). During the next few months, according to Ann Hopkins, the firm failed to give her opportunities to demonstrate her abilities and gain more exposure.
Four months after the policy board’s recommendations, with two OGS’s strong support, it was felt that her candidacy could not possibly be successful. Ann Hopkins was advised that it was very unlikely that she would be admitted to partnership (35). Reviews of her work on the State Department Real Estate management project were, on balance, favorable. An initial review by the partner who had been removed from the large State Department project was negative, but the subsequent Quality Control Review conducted on the State Department work, including REMS, was a “strong positive” (36).
Ann Hopkins later wrote that she was “the only candidate who was not admitted to PW initially or after being put on hold-who was criticized solely for deficiencies in interpersonal skills” (37). Similarly situated men, she says, were admitted. Hopkins was at the bottom of overall quartile rankings and only 13 of 32 partners favored her admission, but the firm had admitted one candidate who had support from 14 of 30 partners and another who ranked 39th of 42 in overall quartile rankings (38).
In December 1983, she learned she would not be re-proposed for partnership. Ann Hopkins tendered her resignation and left PW in January (39). In 1984, she started her own management consulting firm and she also filed suit against PW claiming that she had been denied a partnership because of sex discrimination (40). She sought an award of back pay for lost wages and reinstatement at PW as a partner (41).