Why is the Consultancy Industry Heavily Male Dominated?

Updated: Aug 24

Written by Rochelle Davis


Introduction


Business consultancy holds more value than the sophisticated title it possesses. Business consultancy revolves around strategic planning and problem solving (Greenstreet, 2018) – this requires passion, devotion and critical thinking. This mind-set and drive is few and rare and the consultancy industry is one which is heavily populated by males who are aggressively determined to surpass one another and maintain high positions of power. This report will discuss why there are a larger proportion of males in higher positions relative to females.


My interest for the male/female divide arose when I took part in work experience at KPMG with the head of Brexit in the summer of 2016. During my time there, I attended meetings about the next potential partners of KPMG, many of whom were supposed to be women. The head of Brexit at KPMG, Karen Briggs had been pushing for more women to become partners. She expressed that in such a competitive environment, women are passive whereas men are used having a position of high authority and therefore are naturally more determined than women – females are more likely to turn down a position of high power due to the fact that it is traditional for men to be the breadwinner of the household.


Briggs’ goal to achieve more female partners has remained with me and has forged me to analyse if it is the natural genetic make-up of males to be naturally competitive and if females are complacent to the traditional stereotype to break the cycle.


The Problem


The retention and recruitment of females in the consultancy industry has been a problem faced by many management consulting firms such as KPMG, PwC, EY and Deloitte. Women are more likely to leave their position earlier than men leading to men holding relatively higher positions in comparison to their female companions (Prism Recruitment, 2017).


It can be said that the reason for women not wanting to become high achievers are attributed to not acquiring the mind-set which distinguishes them from males and encourages them to achieve high. In an article by Young Entrepreneur Council, it was stated that in order to succeed in a male-dominated industry, it is imperative to have encouragement from a young age as well as people who will support you when you are feeling incapable or mentally weak (INC, 2018).


Responses

Firms such as Accenture, IBM, KPMPG and PwC have launched schemes to promote gender diversity in the management consulting profession (Prism Recruitment, 2017). This has been expressed through programmes such as Management Consultancies Association (MCA) and She’s Back of which both launched in 2017 (Prism Recruitment, 2017).


The MCA is a representative body for management consultancy firms specifically in the UK – it is comprised of 66 members of which 69% are SMEs and 31% are from larger companies. The Management Consultancy Association has a mission to promote the value of management consultancy in the economy and the society – this is achieved through the following aims (MCA, 2018):

  1. Being the voice of the industry

  2. Promoting a credible and professional industry

  3. Creating better engagement between members

She’s Back is a company which focus’ on “Supporting Women in the Work Place” (She’s Back, 2018). This company acknowledges that women’s career paths differs from that of men and therefore provide training and coaching for women through using high impact training modules in order to discover dealing with limiting beliefs, being an effective line manager and managing transitions (She’s Back, 2018) – this has been a successful program which has been done with firms such as Deloitte News International, PwC, KPMG and Lloyds Banking Group.


Further to this, there is a book by She’s Back entitled “She’s Back – Your Guide to Returning to Work” which acts for a guide for women to alter their mind-set in the workplace in order to be increasingly successful (She’s Back, 2018).


Is There a Need?


As time has aged, men have become more open to the idea of women also being in high positions of power. The reasons for this are due to the fact that women are said to deliver better quality solutions to the client and the organisation, women are more likely to think in the long term compared to men and more than 80% of clients think that a project run by women is more likely to be kept to time and budget (Prisms Recruitment, 2018). This therefore proves that although men are more driven and determined to strive for higher positions, they also realise the value and importance of having a female counterpart alongside them.


Conclusion

To conclude this report, my aim was to shed light and raise awareness on an issue that many women may find challenging to discuss – for me, this is an important subject because as a business consultant, I too aim to be in a position of high power in the near future and wish to be one of the women to have made a positive impact through being the change that she wanted to see in the world. Through initiatives with companies such as She’s Back, there is likely to be a larger proportion of women taking higher positions.

References


Passionforbusiness.com. (2018). [online] Available at: http://www.passionforbusiness.com/articles/be-a-small-business-consultant.htm [Accessed 17 Dec. 2018].


Inc.com. (2018). How to Succeed As a Female in a Male-Dominated Industry. [online] Available at: https://www.inc.com/young-entrepreneur-council/breaking-glass-humidor-female-entrepreneurship-in-a-male-dominated-industry.html [Accessed 17 Dec. 2018].

Mca.org.uk. (2018). MCA. [online] Available at: https://www.mca.org.uk [Accessed 17 Dec. 2018].


Recruitment, P. (2018). Consulting jobs: why do women leave consultancy careers ?. [online] Prism Executive Recruitment. Available at: https://prismrecruitment.co.uk/why-women-leave-consulting-jobs/ [Accessed 17 Dec. 2018].


Wood, S., Huffington, A. and d’Ancona, M. (2018). She’s Back Limited – Supporting Women in the Work Place. [online] Shesback.co.uk. Available at: https://www.shesback.co.uk [Accessed 17 Dec. 2018].

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