Eight high-profile consultancy companies have been names in The Times Top 50 Employers for Women in the UK. The annual unranked selection of firms acknowledges UK employers that are seen to target gender equality within their business strategy, and seeks to highlight consistent commitment to creating inclusive workplace cultures and progressing women in the workplace, across all levels of an organisation.
The latest selection was published by British broadsheet The Times in partnership with Business in the Community (BITC) – a member of the Prince of Wales’ Responsible Business Network – as part of the charity’s Responsible Business Week. Entry is by self-nomination and open to any employer with a presence and activity in the UK. Employers supply detailed information on how they are working towards gender equality in their workplace, spanning strategy, objectives, leadership and gender balance at every level.
Only the 50 organisations identified as Top Employers are eligible to be considered for a Business in the Community Gender Equality Award (BCGEA). Among the groups to make the prestigious short-list were the eventual BCGEA winners, consumer goods producers Unilever; telecommunications giants Vodafone and BT, trusted retailers Marks and Spencer and the Post Office, and state institutions like Royal Mail and MI5 – however a number of professional service groups also made the cut.
Accenture, joint runners up for the BCGEA, has a company board for the UK & Ireland comprised of 40% female members, and the organisation is aiming to reach 50% gender equality at all levels by 2030, while in 2016, 44% of new recruits were women, a 26% increase on 2014 levels.
Joining Accenture on the 50-company short-list were US-headquartered strategy consulting firm McKinsey & Company, whose decade-long “Women Matter” research programme continues to highlight gender diversity in the workplace, along with all constituent members of the “Big Four” in the professional services industry. EY, KPMG, PwC and Deloitte, all returned to the list having been named in previous years, highlighting the professional service elite’s continued commitment to equality in the workplace.
Commenting on Deloitte’s continued presence amongst the 50 employers, Emma Codd, a Managing Partner for Talent at Deloitte, said, “Last year, we became one of the first large firms in the UK to report our gender pay gap, giving us the opportunity to show not only that we fully understood why we have a gap, but also the significant actions we are taking to close it. All of these actions are focused on driving meaningful and long-term change within our firm.”
Laura Hinton, head of people at PwC, remarked on the firm’s inclusion: “We’re committed to gender equality and the wider inclusion agenda is a key part of our business strategy. While it’s pleasing to be recognised by The Times and BITC for our on-going work on gender diversity, there is still more to do, and we continue to review and evolve our approach to ensure we will build on our achievements to date.”
“Diversity and inclusion is placed at the heart of our global and UK business strategy, which our business leaders are committed to and accountable for. Publicly we set targets for our UK business, which aims to have at least 30% female and 10% BME representation in our new partner intake, measured over a rolling three year period. Progress against these targets is reported annually,” said Maggie Stilwell, EY’s managing partner for talent.
One company not present on the 2016 list were French technology consultancy Capgemini, who made the grade in 2017 after their American wing received a certification in Economic Dividends for Gender Equality (EDGE) in October 2016, becoming the first professional services group to do so in the United States. Meanwhile, Mercer, a global consulting firm specialising in health and careers, were another new addition to the coveted assortment of companies. In 2014 Mercer created a three-year diversity and inclusion strategy, covering elements such as gender identity, sexual orientation, age, disabilities, and race and ethnicity, while their UK Board is currently made up of five women and two men, including a female CEO and Chair.
In a release after the UK Top 50 was announced, Mercer stated offering employees flexible working options was key to their success, as well as providing training for line-managers to ensure all employees were working to build a more inclusive workplace, as well as helping them to practice what they preach when assisting clients as a firm specialising in talent management.
“At Mercer we strongly believe that everyone should have equal access to opportunities for development and advancement and we recognise that there are business benefits and positive outcomes of having employees from different backgrounds and life experiences. It’s extremely important to us to be an inclusive workforce that promotes and strives for gender equality,” said Fiona Dunsire, Mercer’s UK CEO.
Reiterating the company’s delight at Mercer’s new Top 50 ranking, Dr Siobhan Martin, Mercer’s UK HR Director said, “We are constantly working to challenge ourselves on how we can be inclusive of all, and to provide appropriate workplace initiatives to help women at every level, this includes our returners plan to support those who have been out of the workplace for an extended period.”
Commenting on the highly selective process of judging the self-nominated applications for the 2017 selection, Kathryn Nawrockyi, Gender Equality Director at BITC, congratulated this year’s successful companies. She concluded, “Their efforts are increasing understanding of the barriers to equality that women face at work, and I hope other employers will follow their lead.”