MCA and consulting firms launch gender disparity research

02 March 2016

The Management Consultancies Association and She’s Back have announced a collaborative effort with PwC, Accenture, IBM, KPMG and PA Consulting Group to get to the bottom of the issue of gender disparity within the industry. The consortium has launched a research project into why promising talent left the industry before their full potential was realised, and seek to identify issues for which solutions may be implemented.

Diversity within the wider business community has shown itself to be a critical social and ethical issue for cultural leaders and academics. For business – driven by the profit imperative – gender diversity remains in principle an economic issue. In recent years, research about the effects of diversity within businesses has shown that a lack of diversity within organisations hampers growth. A Grant Thornton report shows that a lack of female leaders costs listed companies in US, UK and India up to $655 billion, while a broader McKinsey & Company report highlights that gender disparity may cost the world economy up to $12 trillion in unrealised GDP by 2025. 

Gender diversity in boardrooms

Looking ahead, despite gender parity dominating the headlines, a number of HR studies into the causes of the phenomenon show that glass barriers remain in place and that talent pipelines, while being improved upon, will still see significant disparity in executive positions, even by 2035.

Getting to the bottom of the business issue, and finding solutions, is clearly within the remit of the consulting industry. The recent announcement by the Management Consultancies Association (MCA) and She’s Back’s reveals that the two bodies are investigating the issue of gender diversity within the industry. The bodies are working in collaboration with PwC, Accenture, IBM, KPMG and PA Consulting Group on the issue, and given the signifciant backing, the move may herald that real change is on the cards within the industry. The project aims to address what is holding women back from progressing to their full potential within the current cultural and organisational structure of the industry.

Nick Jarman, consulting people partner at PwC, remarks: "If we understand the barriers, we can help women get more support and opportunities to re-start their careers in consulting, and encourage more talented women back into the profession." Arguably, women may currently struggle to maintain work-life balance once they tread into parenthood.

On the topic of work and parenthood, Chief Executive of the MCA, Alan Leaman, adds that management consulting is a "great career for both men and women, and one which should be able to easily accommodate the needs of working parents. But, as in many other professions, despite recruiting male and female graduates in relatively equal numbers, women begin to disappear at the more senior grades. We need to change that."

Jarman concludes: "We want to create an environment where these women can thrive and our clients can benefit from their skills and experience."