Gender equality is something that is on every company’s radar at the moment, with a lot of effort being put into trying to get to that dream 50/50 split. Management Consulting is no different, with most firms trying to look at why they aren’t attracting enough diverse talent and how to improve this.

There are lots of things that companies can do to try and make their working environment more attractive to women, with a lot taking on shared parental leave policies and flexible working. But there are several industry sectors or skillsets that quite simply have a lack of available resource to attract, there aren’t enough females at senior levels to consider.

The issue isn’t always with a company’s desire to hire females, in areas such as IT, Finance and Transaction Services are still very heavily male dominated with not enough females being pushed in this direction as graduates. If companies like the ‘Big 4’ want to increase the amount of female Partners in their business, it is their responsibility to make these traditionally male dominated skillsets more attractive to women.

In the smaller firms, it is sometimes hard to attract top female talent and a lot of places recognise that they are considered an ‘old white man’s club’…even if this is something they are actively trying to change. These firms get caught in a vicious cycle as it isn’t attractive to female candidates to be the first female hire in this type of environment, but the cycle needs to be broken.

How can the cycle be broken ?

The only way to truly become more gender diverse is to build an environment where any sexual orientation can feel comfortable, with the ability to progress and develop effectively. This doesn’t mean flipping everything on its head and creating a workplace that is only attractive to women, but there are plenty of things that companies can implement to attract female candidates (a selection of suggestions below):

  • Informal Events - One of Consulting Point Search’s key clients run regular dinner events where female candidates can speak to existing female employees in an informal environment and learn more about what it is like to work at the firm before committing to the full interview process

  • First Interview - Try to have the first interviewer of a candidate be of the same gender (if possible), particularly for women this will allow any reservations to be covered off in the first interview and give a chance for the candidate to find out what it is like for a female to work in the team

  • Offering Shared Parental Leave - This benefits both male and female candidates as it allows male candidates to spend more time with their new-born and allows female candidates to return to work much quicker (if they want to)

  • Flexible Working - Implementing flexible working is a key thing that a lot of companies are looking into at the moment, as we all know Management Consulting can mean a lot of work and unsociable hours…however being able to leave early to pick the kids up from nursery/school then continuing to work remotely in the evening is a good way to keep parents (of any gender) happy

  • Making Company Events Inclusive – I think we are all modern-thinking enough to know that there aren’t specific boy activities and girl activities, however if your company does company or team building events try to make sure that you have a diverse range of topics…if you are always doing events that only suit the majority of existing staff (e.g. boozy weekends, car experiences, sports tickets) it can alienate people who don’t enjoy them (i.e. boozy weekends are harder to attend for people of any gender with a young family)

Overall there is no easy solution and it is safe to say that we all have a long way to go, but adjusting your work environment and working hard to attract top talent at junior levels will help Management Consulting firms to even out the balance at the top in the long-term.

Written by Matthew Liddle from Consulting Point - Principal Talent Consultant