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How Do We Get More Women into Consulting?

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May 4, 2022
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5 minutes
Gizela has almost two decades of experience within the Digital sphere and eagerly awaits the day she can be cloned so she can finally get everything on her daily to-do list done

Women have come a long way since they first fought for their right to vote and to have a life beyond the kitchen and the maternity ward. After the #metoo movement a few years back, the issues regarding equality and gender imbalance in the workplace were once again brought into the spotlight. It seemed like the tide had finally turned and the future would have more diverse work teams that got paid fairly and were treated equally. Unfortunately, even though we have come so far, it appears that we still have a long way to go. And the consulting industry is not spared from this. In this articles, I will suggest ways to get more women in consulting.

What the statistics say

The latest 2021/2022 studies reveal that professional women are still banished to the entry level positions of an organization. This is with an elite, few rising to the management and upper management ranks of the corporate ladder. Women also often get “stuck” in whichever role they are hired, with just one woman getting promoted for every 100 men! We might live in a world where there are more diverse work teams, but it’s very clear that gender imbalance is alive, also in the consulting business. Recent studies revealed that the consulting world is still a male-dominated arena with men outnumbering women 8:1.

“Achieving gender equality requires the engagement of women and men, girls and boys. It is everyone’s responsibility.” – Ban Ki-Moon

The impact of gender imbalance on women

This type of inequality in the workplace has a major impact on women. And even though the issue is situated in a professional realm, it has a personal effect. Gender inequity has proved to have long-lasting psychological effects on women. The fact that they are continuously vulnerable to violence, discrimination, objectification and socioeconomic inequality has led them to suffer from depression, low self-esteem, anxiety and even PTSD! Some take these findings as proof that women are somehow weaker. This could not be further from the truth. It actually proves the opposite. Women are much stronger, facing an uphill battle since birth, still multitasking professional careers, households, children, marriages etc. ALL while performing under much more pressure than men – in EVERY area of their life. The following statistics show this very clearly:

  • 25% of women compared to only 15% of men feel extreme shame when it comes to their bodies.
  • 51% of the population openly believes that a mother should stay at home with the children.
  • This belief is very apparent with only 17% of fathers being the stay-at-home-parent.
  • Women (on average) earn 51% less than men.

It seems like Adam has gotten a better deal than Eve since the dawn of time and while a lot has changed, it hasn’t changed enough yet.

Why does this type of gender imbalance still exist?

It’s quite obvious that a gender imbalance exists whether you are a stay-at-home-mom or working in a consultant business. But why is this issue still so prevalent?

Organization policies are archaic

Did you know that only 6 countries in the world have amended their internal policies to truly reflect equal rights in the workplace? That means that most countries, even though they might boast more diverse work teams, still have issues such as men being chosen for promotions and sexual harassments. Firms such as McKinsey have found that the consultant business industry is one of the guiltiest parties when it comes to inequity and women not being paid the same rates/salaries as men. Ironically, McKinsey and Boston Consulting Group are both held as “old boys clubs” when it comes to the consultant business.

Job monopoly

Based on certain archaic beliefs, women are simply not considered for certain roles. This is one of the biggest problems women face in a consultant business. For example, if you take a look at the corporate ladder within a consulting firm, you’ll see the female numbers start to dwindle the higher you go. In fact, once you reach the board, statistics show that you’ll find a meager 14% of women occupying the seats.

Failure within the legal systems

Over 1 billion women are not being heard by the judicial systems. This ranges from cases of domestic violence to rape to unfair dismissals etc. It seems like a woman that’s up against a male protagonist when it comes to their case, are mostly on the back foot right from the start.

Archaic mindsets

It’s tough to overcome certain beliefs and mindsets that have been instilled into society for decades. It’s an interesting phenomenon that many men who see themselves as fairly liberal find themselves stuck in very conservative ways when it comes to women. These mindsets have formed such an inherent part of society that we ourselves don’t even know that we harbor these toxic notions. These archaic ways of thinking are also what is chasing women out of the consulting workforce. 14% of female consultants say they want to quit after a couple of months working for a firm. This is a shocking statistic if you compare it to the men's 4%.

How do we change the current status quo?

It’s very clear that having diverse work teams is not the problem. Gender inequity is much more deeply ingrained into society and into the workplace. And it is such a sad state of affairs since studies have shown that women in leadership positions in businesses bring a lot more to the table than their male counterparts. For example, they have improved employee turnover rates since they promote employee well-being much more than men. So how do we fix this, get more women into the consulting industry and have them be treated fairly?

Offer flexibility

Turns out women aren’t satisfied with a clock-in-clock-out system. Especially, when they have to juggle a thousand balls. Can they stick to deadlines AND take little Timmy to Baseball? Absolutely! But not if their boss insists that they do both for example between the hours of 13:00-14:00. It is important to offer women flexibility and the opportunity to manage their own time. This way they will be able to accomplish much more.

Level the p(l)aying field

There should be no pay bias based on gender. Payment/salary should be based on a specific position/role and these positions/roles should also not be exclusively kept for male applicants.

The man in the mirror

In the wise words of Michael Jackson: “take a look at yourself and make the change”. We already dove into the fact that many of us don’t even know that we have some form of prejudice. This is where self-reflection and self-improvement comes in. The world needs to be changed from the inside out. At Consultport we value skills and talent - irrelevant of gender. Since equity is one of our core values, we choose to work with those who match our beliefs. Not only do we have vetted clients with attractive rates, but we also have clients who hire and promote fairly. Add on our continued support, you’re surrounded by people who have your back.