Good intentions

Blind Item: Which Big 4 CEO Sent This Poorly Timed Email About Working in the Wee Hours of the Morning?

In light of recent events, the following email was forwarded to us with our tipster admitting that intentions were good while the timing was not.

I recently met with a [BIG executive] who formerly served as a Former Big Four partner and [some hotshot internal group (I think)]. Most of the discussion was focused on how we might help [BIG executive’s company] with their global HR transformation. Quite unexpectedly, he began our meeting with a story about a senior manager on our team, [Sally Worksherassoff].

Just a day earlier, he had asked [Sally Worksherassoff] if she could find any information explaining the relevance of Dodd-Frank legislation to Human Resource leaders. When he woke up the next morning, he noticed that [Sally Worksherassoff] had emailed a whitepaper outlining exactly what he needed…at 2:00 am. The timing was critical, as he needed to deliver a presentation to [BIG executive’s company] leaders later in the day. After I left [BIG executive]’s offices, he sent an unprompted note to our project team recounting this story and remarking that “seemingly small things like this can add significant value to [BIG executive’s company].” The subject header of his note: How to “wow” a client.

My takeaway: small things, big difference. It can be easy to get lulled into reserving our extra energy and special effort for those situations, requests, and issues that seem like “big deals”. But as our client pointed out, there are no small things when it comes to delivering an exceptional client experience.

— [Big 4 CEO]

PwC’s “White Male Strategy” Is Working Out Pretty Well

According to a recent post on Fast Company, some people say that discussing diversity is dead. Barry Salzberg doesn’t buy that for a second.

And neither does PricewaterhouseCoopers. They and the rest of the Big 4 are all over this diversity thing, strategically placed fliers around the office, the constant barrage of emails and the training. Thank the Maker for the diversity training. However, we did note something that is part of the diversity strategy that probably has better intentions than it sounds:

One of those people I interviewed is Niloufar Molavi, who is the U.S. Chief Diversity Officer for PwC (PriceWaterhouseCoopers.) She is very proud of the diversity and inclusion work of PwC. When I asked Niloufar which of their programs, policies or processes were the most innovative, she said, “At PwC we’re proud of all our diversity efforts, but if I had to choose one to highlight, it would be our white male strategy. Men comprise over half our firm and it’s critical to engage them in the dialogue about inclusion.”

Diversity Is Dead? Not According to PwC [Fast Company]

Panera Bread Combines Free Markets and Nonprofits in Missouri

In a test run to see if expenses can get covered at the end of the day, Panera Bread has opened a unique new location in Clayton, MO that combines the benefits of nonprofit status with the fundamental principle of the free market system: let the market determine what an item is worth. But it adds a unique qualifier to the traditional concept of the need determining price: human nature.


The menu is exactly the same as other Panera locations (sick foodies can check that out here if they aren’t familiar with Panera’s offerings) but instead of charging a fixed price for each item, this special little spot will ask only what customers can afford. “Take what you need, leave your fair share,” says the sign at their entrance, just in case one is confused by such a foreign transaction model. No prices? Do we even know how to value items independently any more?

Panera is hopeful that the “Cares Cafe” model will thrive and grow to a series of donation-based stores that rely more on empathy than capitalism. “Hopefully we’ll be able to open them across the country, but our original St. Louis location must succeed first!” tweeted the fine folks behind Panera’s official Twitter account.

Can someone confirm Missouri rules on sales taxes related to the sale of food? And is it a sale if the exchange is really a donation? I’m really confused.

Anyway, not everyone is thrilled about this concept. Though it is obviously well-intentioned, the donation model may not necessarily transfer outside of St Louis. Trends consultant Marian Salzman reality-checked USAToday saying “while young people are very much attuned to helping out and making a difference, if they find themselves sitting next to other customers with whom they don’t feel comfortable, they’re not coming back.” You know, as in the possibility of homeless and otherwise destitute individuals (of which our country has plenty nowadays) lounging around with the nerve to eat a cheap meal.

Hedging against operating losses, this particular location has one slight difference from other Panera stores: its bread (except for sandwich bread) is really day old product from other locations around the St Louis metro. Hey, nothing wrong with getting the most out of inventory with a horrible turnover rate.

In the end, it’s hard to say whether this nonprofit experiment will float but if it does, Panera wants to open two more within six months. Good luck with that.

Adrienne Gonzalez is the founder of Jr. Deputy Accountant, a former CPA wrangler and a Going Concern contributor . You can see more of her posts here.