UK's top consulting firms for women and gender diversity

04 May 2021 Consultancy.uk 14 min. read

What are consulting’s leading employers for women and gender diversity? Consultancy.uk analysed the results of the country’s most influential ranking of top employers for women – The Times Top 50 – for the past fifteen years to spotlight the consultancies that stand out from the rest.

Launched in 2006, the Times Top 50 Employers for Women list is an initiative by Business in the Community (the Prince's Responsible Business Network) that celebrates organisations that champions female empowerment and gender equality in the workplace. Over the years, the ranking has become the UK’s most highly profiled and well-established listing of employers striving for gender equality in the workplace.

To land a spot on its annual list, companies and public sector institutions are assessed on a range of areas, including their approach to gender equality part as part of their business and human capital strategy, recruitment, family friendly policies and – more recently – how they have championed gender equality in the context of the pandemic. 

UK's top consulting firms for women and gender diversity

The consulting companies that feature in Consultancy.uk’s sector breakdown have all demonstrated an industry-leading commitment to gender equality in the workplace and taken action to make this happen, not only at the top of their firm (leadership / partner team) but enabling all women across all ranks to fulfil their career potential. 

An overview of the top consulting top employers for women (an unranked list in alphabetical order) and their most notable achievements for women (in their own words): 

Accenture

We are a leading global professional services company providing a broad range of services in strategy and consulting, interactive, technology and operations, with digital capabilities across all of the above. Our goal is to achieve a gender-balanced workforce by 2025, and we have hit the following interim goals: almost 60 per cent of new hires are women; we’ve promoted our largest percentage of women to managing director level; we’ve grown our percentage of female managing directors.

Arup

Founded in 1946 with an enduring set of values, our unique trust ownership fosters a distinctive culture and an intellectual independence that encourages collaborative working. Our 16,000+ planners, designers, engineers and consultants deliver innovative projects across the world with creativity and passion.

Dervilla Mitchell, Deputy Chair of Arup: “Providing an inclusive and supportive workplace is a priority for Arup. Diverse teams make better decisions, are more creative, and are better at problem solving; supporting our clients by delivering innovative solutions that are flexible to meet future needs. Making the Top 50 for a seventh time inspires us to maintain momentum in delivering a diverse and inclusive working environment on all our projects.” 

Atkins

We are one of the world’s most respected major capital design, engineering and project management consultancies, employing more than 18,300 people across the UK and Europe, North America, the Middle East and Africa, and Asia Pacific. We are proud of the positive role models we have at every level across our organisation. We see women represented across the business, and that is reflected in the inclusive and welcoming working culture our teams speak so highly of. 

Richard Robinson, Atkins UK and Europe CEO: “While there is some way go to reach gender equality across our industry, I’m proud of the progress we're making and the decisions we've made as a responsible, socially conscious organisation. 'This recognition is incredibly important to us.” 

Sendra Sylvester, Atkins UK and Europe Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Specialist, said: “At Atkins we're weaving equity, diversity & inclusion into everything we do to create opportunities, remove barriers and lead by example. Having just launched our three-year ED&I strategy - following consultation with our employees - our place on the Times Top 50 list confirms we're heading in the right direction.” 

Atos

A global leader in digital transformation, we employ more than 110,000 people across 73 countries with an annual revenue of over €12 billion. We believe we can take care of each other and the planet through making positive changes in business and society. We want to reflect the communities we serve, and our strong commitment to gender equality is continually reviewed. Covid-19 brought renewed purpose in this; our “We Are Together” mantra was embodied through a multi-layered programme supporting families and mental health.

Clay Van Doren, CEO UK&I and CEO Northern Europe at Atos: “I am proud of the work we’ve done towards gender equality with much more still to be done. I know we will continue to drive this in our organisation over the coming months and years.”

Cheryl Allen, Head of Culture & Transformation, Northern Europe at Atos: “We have a passion and determination to create an environment in which differences and individuality is valued and celebrated. We look forward to continuing our initiatives that support gender parity, at all levels.” 

Bain & Company

We are a global consultancy that helps the world’s most ambitious change-makers define the future on issues of strategy, marketing, organisation, operations, technology, and mergers and acquisitions. We aim to be a leading employer for diverse talent, delivering client results through our community of extraordinary teams. This translates to meaningful actions: more than half of our 2019-20 graduate recruits were female; women are promoted and retained at parity; and we are proud to offer equal paid parental leave of 29 weeks.

James Hadley, Bain & Company’s UK Managing Partner: “We are committed to redefining the consulting industry and we will continue to invest in our greatest asset, which is our people. Our recruitment programmes, equal parental leave policy, flexibility options and overall culture of support are key components to that.” 

Sinead Fox, a partner at Bain & Company and lead for the ‘Women at Bain’ community in the London office: “Diversity is imperative to our success and gender equality is a key pillar of that. We are committed to supporting our female talent and ensuring we have the right foundation to allow a broad set of diverse and exceptional people to thrive at Bain.” 

Baringa Partners

We are committed to creating a truly inclusive workplace. Our Programme Balance and Returners Programme are two ways we strive to achieve gender equality at all levels of our company. 

Alex Gurr, partner responsible for Diversity and Inclusion at Baringa: “At Baringa we believe that diversity is paramount to driving creativity, innovation and value – not just for our people, but for our clients too. Our focus on diversity and inclusion is embedded within our culture and the environment we want to foster.”

“We have been working extremely hard over the last few years to create and maintain a truly balanced workplace, building upon our unique culture, to provide a work environment that everyone can thrive in. We very aware that we aren’t perfect and that we are on a journey of continued evaluation and improvement, but it is one we are all 100% committed to.”

BDO

BDO provides tax, audit and assurance, advisory and business outsourcing services to companies across all sectors of the economy. We employ 5,500 people who are allowed to be themselves; taking responsibility for their work and their relationships with clients. All our people share core values that underpin both our culture and the value that we bring to our clients. 

BDO is an equal opportunities employer. We are fully committed to ensuring all applicants and employees are treated fairly and equally regardless of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, race, religion or belief, gender and sexual orientation.

Capco

Capco is committed to driving business growth by harnessing the talents of our people, enabling them to be themselves at work and fostering an inclusive culture of shared values – respect, integrity, excellence, commitment and knowledge. Capco is committed to promoting these values in the way we work with clients and each other, so that everyone at Capco can achieve their potential and contribute to a successful business.

Our gender equality networks supports the professional advancement of women within the organisation and across the financial services sector by providing opportunities to grow their networks, learn from each other, and give back to the community. 

Capgemini

We are a leader in consulting, digital transformation, technology and engineering services, employing 8,000 people in the UK. Our female population (28 per cent) is increasing and exceeds this male-dominated industry’s norm; we are working to improve this. We know that gender equality and inclusion is critical to our success; it underpins our people’s experience at work, it’s integral to building client relationships and it’s absolutely key to innovating for the sustainable and inclusive future that we want. 

Paul Margetts, Managing Director at Capgemini UK said: “I’m delighted that we have been recognised by ‘The Times Top 50 Employers for Women’ for the fifth year running, and especially during the challenges of Covid-19. It reflects our commitment – with Active Inclusion and our people at the heart of our business – to continue to build a better ‘new normal’ in the technology industry for all to feel included, work and thrive.” 

Deloitte

We are a leading professional services firm, with more than 20,000 UK-based people providing audit, risk advisory, tax and legal, consulting and financial advisory services to public and private clients across multiple industries. Achieving gender balance remains a key priority, and our 2023 inclusion ambition is to build an even more diverse workforce. We have prioritised the attraction, advancement and retention of senior women as part of our action plan, and have already increased female representation at partner level from 14 per cent (2014) to 23 per cent today.

Richard Houston, senior partner and chief executive of Deloitte UK: “Gender equality is critical to our business as we continue to ensure that women can succeed and thrive in our firm. Through our gender balance action plan, we’re prioritising the recruitment, development and retention of women at all levels of our organisation.” 

Miriam Earley, director for Inclusion and Wellbeing at Deloitte UK: “Deloitte has 24% female partners, with a target of 40% female partners by June 2030. We have had a marked increase in the number of women being promoted to director, from 34% in 2019 to 42% in 2020. We know there’s lots still to do, but this award recognises the progress we’re making together.”

“We have put in place various interventions and policies to support gender balance. These include increasing non-birthing parent leave and pay, refreshing our approach to the Gender Balance Network and ensuring all our recruitment and reward processes are objective and working to remove bias.”

EY

We are one of the world’s largest professional services networks and accountancy firms, comprising four service lines: assurance; consulting; strategy and transactions; and tax. Diversity and inclusion is the firm’s number one strategic priority, and our Diversity and Inclusion Strategy puts gender equality at its heart, through a “differential focus on race and gender”. 

We publicly commit to 40 per cent female representation in our partnership by 2025 and we have doubled our investment in coaching and sponsorship programmes for women.

KPMG

We’re a leading provider of professional services, including audit, tax and advisory services. We are a member firm of a global network, and making female talent central to our business strategy is a priority. We are very proud to have achieved gender parity on our board.

Our colleagues lead by example – whether it’s visibility with flexible working arrangements or challenging recruiters for 50-50 shortlists, we are focused on demonstrating that we are serious about recruitment, retention and progression of all women.

McKinsey & Company

Gender diversity is a priority and our research has proved its value in the workplace. McKinsey is an equal opportunities employer committed to creating a diverse and inclusive work environment. In the UK, McKinsey has committed to having 40% of its consultant roles filled by women by 2020, including 30% female Partners and 15% female senior partners. 

Globally, McKinsey recently launched ‘All In’, a ‘HeForShe’ approach to gender equality that engages male and female colleagues around the world to address the implicit biases, policies, and processes that hold them back. To spearhead this initiative, McKinsey has built an internal, gender-balanced, team of senior partners, and is working with leading external experts on gender equality.

‘All In’ works across McKinsey’s 100+ offices globally to implement practices including sponsorship programs, upgraded flexible work arrangements and unconscious bias training.

Mercer

We cherish diversity, and aim to ensure colleagues reach their full potential. We’re committed to gender balance and opening up the gender equality discussion. 

We introduced diversity objectives into its business strategy in 2015, working to achieve a 50/50 gender split across the organisation and 30% of senior employees to be female by 2020. Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, the diversity and inclusion targets have been achieved following several initiatives. Mercer is also committed to making a positive difference to clients’ workforce diversity. 

Sylvia Pozezanac, Mercer’s UK CEO: “At Mercer we champion diversity in its fullest and recognise the importance of all colleagues having equal access to opportunities for development and progression. Mercer is committed to creating and sponsoring a culture that supports colleagues of any race, gender, age, or any other characteristic to enable them to succeed and feel comfortable in bringing their whole self to work.” 

“We’re proud of the steps we have taken to improve our gender balance at all levels and to remove barriers through a variety of initiatives and policies. We recognise there is still much more we can do as a firm as we continue our commitment to building a working environment that is wholly inclusive and diverse.” 

Jacobs (parent of PA Consulting)

With $13 billion in revenue and a talent force of 55,000-plus, Jacobs provides a full spectrum of professional services including consulting, technical, scientific and project delivery for the government and private sector. Our core value, “We live inclusion”, outlines our approach globally. 

At Jacobs, we are proud of the actionable and measurable targets that we’ve put into place to develop and advance the representation of women in senior-level positions – and of our commitment to recruiting and retaining the best intersectional female talent through our global Action Plan for advancing justice and equality.

Jacobs has recently made an investment in PA Consulting. PA has accelerated its efforts to shape a more inclusive firm and to create a culture that supports diversity in all its forms. PA’s employee networks – BAME, Mental Health and Wellbeing, PRIDE, and Women – led the charge celebrating diversity and raising awareness of important issues.”

PwC

We are a global professional services partnership organisation. As professional advisers, we help our clients solve complex business problems and aim to enhance their ability to add value, manage risk and improve performance. Focusing on our five-point plan for diversity and inclusion actions, we are making progress in committing to and driving real change for gender equality. This includes ensuring our partners are specifically responsible and accountable for gender diversity goals and for taking action to deliver on our published gender targets. 

Laura Hinton, Head of People at PwC: “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 for our ongoing 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.” 

Highly recommended top consulting employers for women according to the analysis:

Anthesis Consulting Group
BCS Consulting
Capita Consulting
Grant Thornton
Project One Consulting
Ricardo
Stantec
Teneo