MCA – Gender Parity at the top: a reality for consultancy?
Elysian were proud sponsors of this event, it is a topic very close to my heart as both a working mother and a director within an industry that lacks female role models at a senior level.
I thoroughly enjoyed the debate chaired by Vicky Pryce and joined by Lisa Unwin (She’s Back), Kristel Middleton (PWC), Sarah Bell (Grant Thornton) and Khusma Kerai (BearingPoint). They made up an inspirational panel that are indicative of the women that I speak with within the industry. They passionately shared their opinions on how gender parity could be achieved and personal stories of how they manage to "have it all". Kushma is literally wonder woman managing 3 children under 3, a high pressure job and still managing time to bake! They opened the debate focusing on how companies could/should adopt a real flexible attitude to attract and retain female talent.
Some great points were made by all the panellists, including some possible solutions: Changing culture from the top down; Greater flexibility; and even a change to the operating model of consultancies to recognise contributions outside of just revenue generation!
The contribution from the audience challenged some of these solutions, for example: Are we simply validating a wildly felt opinion that childcare and flexibility are simply female issues, thus creating a further divide in the workforce?
The debate continued and one thing that resonated is that there is a real need for female role models at all levels throughout consulting. Firms with more female representation at Partner level tend to have a more balanced workforce throughout, I am not sure if this is driven by the cultural change born out of some female leadership or the belief system created by having these role models.
It is a little chicken and egg and I feel that lots is being done to attract more women into the industry at a more junior level but statistics show we don't seem to have found a way to stop them leaving.
Without enough role models in leadership positions will this always be a struggle?