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How to Ensure Equal Employment Opportunities In Management Consulting Firms

Attracting female talent to consulting firms

Diversity is top of the agenda for a large number of our clients this year and integral to their growth plans. But what is it that attracts females to a consultancy? Does it differ from what appeals to men? Are you sending out the right messages as employers to attract and retain the talent of both men and women alike?

People's motivations can be different and often influenced by circumstance or by goals – This isn’t a typecast for all females,  but like it or not we tend to face more hurdles in clearly planning out a long term career pathway and so in addition to our regular personal career motivations, other things need to be considered in the long run to make a move, in particular to another consulting firm and continue our career in the best way possible.

At Ascent Professional Services, we meet and speak with hundreds of management consultants every month. We, therefore, found that there can be some clear differences in how some consulting firms attract females and demonstrate a clear pathway for them to remain top of their game, progress within the company whilst managing some of the typical reasons/ or drivers for females leaving consulting.

From speaking with female candidates over the past 6 months, or even the length of my recruiting career, recurring common issues or cause for hesitation in meeting another consulting firm prevail:

  • Lack of flexibility (often correlating with females with families or young children)
  • ‘First impressions’ seems like an ‘old boys club’ – this may not be the case but what do first impressions say? They really do count!
  • Maternity pay is rubbish – or wasn’t made aware of what it is
  • Paternity care
  • Didn’t see many females in senior positions (will this stunt my career?)
  • Didn’t meet any females in the interview process
  • Travel (again usually with young family)
  • Culture
  • Equal pay (Too many females KNOW they are paid less compared to their male colleagues)

These tend not to be the core drivers for females, they still remain the same as men more often than not;:

  • Progression
  • Interesting work
  • Great team/ manager etc but in a candidate-driven market
  • Competing with all the other consultancies to attract female talent

Taking certain measures to address some of the above points could be the difference in securing that top female talent or letting them slip away to a competitor.

Where some consulting firms are making a mark

We work with a broad range of clients, typically boutique consultancies, who are often ahead of the game in addressing many of the points raised. For example, a number of our clients offer excellent ‘return to work’ programmes or are clear about the flexibility that can be given in the interview process often 4 days a week or hours that allow for school drop-offs to make things easier for females with families. Others have exemplary maternity pay schemes; the best I’ve seen offering 6 months of full pay and even shared parental leave.


Often we speak with clients and although they want to attract females there is no plan behind how to do so, or, they have initiatives and benefits in place but haven’t made them known!!

  • Female Visibility- If you are trying to attract females, let them meet other successful females in the business either throughout the interview process or as a meet and greet outside of a formal process.
  • Make your content and initiatives visible – with social media, glass door and easy access to a lot of other information, make sure you're pushing out your content to attract females.
  • First impressions count – this could be anything from your website, the reception when someone walks in for an interview, your interview process (too many times candidates have not continued in an interview process as first impressions didn’t represent the message they were given about the company)
  • Money – negotiating – whilst often men have no fear in trying to negotiate or knowing/ valuing their worth in the market, women are increasingly doing the same (and rightfully so). Don’t lose out on top talent because you are too rigid in your bandings – in a market where women are well sought after if you really want them, pay them their worth and bring them into the team on a positive note without that sour taste in their mouth over a few thousand pounds.
  • Adult approach to travel – without being biased, but if your company has a business model that can allow certain flexibility in travel, this can be greatly appreciated for both sexes.

I’m very excited to speak or meet with people who would like to discuss this further or encounter positive or negative experiences in the diversity topic, so please get in touch!


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