Consulting's top leaders that champion diversity and female support

21 September 2018 6 min. read

The Financial Times has unveiled a list of 200 top professionals that are playing instrumental role in championing diversity and providing ambitious females with mentoring and coaching so they can realise their career potential. More than 20 members of the professional services industry are lauded by the list.

Businesses opening up to more diverse models of operation is increasingly important, as public discontent continues to grow about a perceived lack of equal opportunities in society. At the same time, diversity would also benefit the financial performance of companies who traditionally have found themselves in opposition to gender equality. In some cases, this boost could yield a 30% improvement in the financial performance of businesses.

Despite this, efforts to elevate women to the top of the world’s biggest businesses have yielded a mixed degree of success, at best. The proportion of businesses with at least one woman in senior management has grown from 68% in 2015, to 75% this year. However, while there are more women represented at companies that formerly had no female representation in their senior leadership; the absolute increase in women across all senior roles has been more muted. Having improved by 3% in 2016 to 25%, the level actually declined to 24% this year.

Consulting's top leaders that champion diversity and female support

With this in mind, identifying role-models, and encouraging other businesses to emulate their best practices has become key to helping more women ascend corporate structures to the boardroom. To that end, the Financial Times – which publishes a variety of lists about formerly marginalised groups permeating the private sector – has published a long-list of top business figures promoting female leadership in the workplace. All of those named on the list were nominated by peers and colleagues, and the nominations then reviewed by a panel of judges.

Each person was scored on the seniority and influence of their role, their internal and external work to champion women, their recent and significant business achievements, and the testimonial that was provided with their nomination. Across all three lists, the role models were required to be visible and vocal champions, working to create an environment in which women can succeed. The list – named HERoes: Champions of Women in Business 2018 – includes a total of 200 business leaders, of which 27 are active in the consulting industry.

Big Four firm EY was the most regular presence in the list, taking up six slots. EY recently saw its UK board adopt equal representation, with two senior appointments taking the proportion of male and female members of the board to 50:50. The firm was followed by Big Four competitor, KPMG, and Accenture – the North American arm of which targets gender equality by 2025 – which both hosted four professionals recognised. 

In the list of the Top 100 Female Champions compiled by the Financial Times, Carol Liao, a Senior Partner at the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), ranked highest, while EY, KPMG and Accenture took up six of the 10 spaces occupied by the consulting industry. In the Top 50 Male Champions of gender inclusivity, meanwhile, EY’s UK Chairman Steve Varley topped proceedings from the sector, followed by eight other consultancy professionals, and the Top 50 Future Leaders category saw Laura Tynan, Manager EMEIA Restructuring, EY, rank highest of any consultants in terms of their future promise as female business leaders.

The full list of consulting professionals that have made FT’s 2018 ‘HERoes: Champions of Women in Business’ list are:

Female Champions

- Carol Liao, Senior Partner & Managing Director, BCG
- Melanie Richards, Deputy Chair, KPMG
- Rana Ghandour Salhab, Talent & Communications Partner, Deloitte Middle East
- Anna Purchas, Partner & Head of People, KPMG
- Maggie Stilwell, Dispute Services Partner, EY
- Emma Codd, Managing Partner for Talent, Deloitte
- Joanna Santinon, Partner, EY
- Emma McGuigan, Group Technology Officer, Communications, Media & Technology, Accenture
- Payal Vasudeva, Human Capital & Diversity Executive Sponsor, Accenture
- Merelina Monk, Partner Student Property Team, Knight Frank

Male Champions

- Steve Varley, UK Chairman, EY
- Christopher Stirling, Global Chair Life Sciences, KPMG
- David Sproul, Senior Partner & Chief Executive Officer, Deloitte
- Oliver Benzecry, UKI Chairman & Country Director, Accenture
- Dominic Christian, Global Chairman Aon, Aon Benfield
- Andrew Pearce, Managing Director – Operations, Accenture
- Matthew Krentz, Senior Partner & Managing Director, Global People Chair, BCG
- Omar Ali, UK Financial Services Managing Partner, EY
- Karl Edge, Midlands Regional Chair, KPMG

Future Leaders

- Laura Tynan, Manager EMEIA Restructuring, EY
- Coleen Mensa, Trainee Solicitor, EY
- Kathryn Cripps, Partner, Knight Frank
- Samantha Jayne Nelson, Vice President Risk Engineer, Marsh
- Sayli Chitre, Associate Manager, Oliver Wyman
- Kenesa Ahmad, Partner & Co-founder, Aleada Consulting
- Siva Karthikeyan, Senior Finance Business Partner, Aon
- Elena Elkina, Partner/Co-owner, Aleada Consulting