MCA launches Women in Consulting Network

07 December 2020 4 min. read

The Management Consultancies Association has launched a new group to help promote more women entering the sector. MCA's Women in Consulting Network will look to encourage better career progression for women in consulting, something which could be a key driver for recruitment in the future.

According to a study of ONS statistics in 2019, despite the number of women being employed by the consulting industry having risen by 191% – the third fastest of any industry in the last 20 years – the portion of the workforce they represent in management consulting has declined by more than 5% since 1998. While there are a great many more women working in management consulting than seen in 1998, there are even more men, as its headcount has increased as a whole amid two market booms for the industry. Meanwhile, the ‘boys club’ attitude often criticised in the sector could mean that women are likely to be overlooked for promotions and better pay.

Since last year, the latest figures from the industry’s representative body suggest that there has been a drastic change, however. The Management Consultancies Association (MCA) Annual Report 2020 found that across the MCA membership, 49% of consultants are women and 51% are men, in comparison to the 2018 figures which stated that 40% of consultants were women and 57% were men. As the consulting industry continues to work to close its gender gap, the MCA has established a new initiative aimed at promoting the recruitment of women.

MCA launches Women in Consulting Network

The MCA hosted a virtual launch event for its Women in Consulting Network at the start of December, which was attended by more than 350 individuals from 47 MCA Member Firms, ranging from SMEs, medium sized firms and the Big Four. The aim of this event was to provide focus and ignite conversation across the consultancy industry and within MCA Member firms on better representation of women in consulting and is the first in a series of events to help promote more females joining the sector and greater career progression.  

Anne-Marie Malley, UK Consulting Leader for Deloitte, was a key speaker at the event, and highlighted the importance of this agenda. She stated that a growing number of businesses “acknowledge that limiting diversity will also stifle the breadth of thought, creativity and innovation that a team delivers,” presenting a major problem for consultants courting clients without addressing their gender gap.

“Every industry should be reflective of the society it serves, but I’d argue that this is even more important within consulting as a result of the breadth of organisations, markets and communities that we serve,” Malley added. “We must improve the number of female leaders in our industry and continue to grow the number of women joining our firms. Collective action is needed to drive this change. The MCA’s Women in Consulting Network will provide a platform for us to work together as an industry to share our successes, learnings and challenges so we can overcome the obstacles to gender parity.” 

With a panel also including Kate Bamford, Partner at EY, and Mott MacDonald Executive Director Denise Bower OBE, areas of discussion included barriers and opportunities for Women in Consulting, whether all firms should adopt targets and which best practices such as job share, sponsorship and role models work well. As well as highlighting the brilliant careers and stories in the industry to inspire more women to join and become leaders. The topic of the future of work in light of the pandemic was also covered, and topics for future for events include sharing best practice on how to manage the gap in careers and what policies firms should adopt. 

Tamzen Isacsson, Chief Executive of the MCA, said,  “Recent events have reinforced the urgent need for change across all sectors of society and many firms have encouraged honest discussions about how much further there is to go in improving diversity in consulting and what steps need to be taken. Recent studies have highlighted the impact that Covid-19 has had on working women who are also often juggling other responsibilities and the MCA Women in Consulting network was established as a direct request from MCA Council Leaders and is more critical at this time than ever before.”