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Consultancy Firms Target Female MBA Students In Bid For Diversity

Deloitte, Bain and BCG among strategy houses targeting female MBAs as corporations come under pressure on gender diversity.

Mon Jul 27 2015

The top management consultancy firms are ramping up efforts to target female business school students.

Pressure has built on corporations to do more to promote gender diversity at the highest levels and this is not lost on the largest strategy houses.

Deloitte and Boston Consulting Group are spearheading a women’s recruitment push. Leading consultancy firms are launching initiatives to foster relationships with top business schools and are offering MBA scholarship funding for women, boosting the talent pipeline.

The Women’s Initiative at Deloitte, which has the largest consultancy practice by revenue, has sought to place more emphasis on attracting female MBAs as well as ensuring they can progress in their careers.

The Deloitte Women’s Leadership Launch in January saw MBA students from more than 30 schools including Virginia’s Darden School and Tuck School of Business link up with top women at the firm.

Commenting on International Women’s Day 2015, Emma Codd, Deloitte managing partner for talent, said companies must identify and nurture talent from an early stage and must provide flexibility.

“Without these components, women will continue to struggle not only to remain within the workplace, but also to fully develop their careers into meaningful leadership positions,” she said.

At Bain & Company, the Global Women’s Leadership Council aims to increase the number of women in Bain’s leadership ranks. Bain is a top recruiter at MBA programs at MIT Sloan, Kellogg School and London Business School.

At BCG, the Women’s Initiative offers career development and mentoring for women. Its conferences have built up global women’s networks.

“Having a group of people with whom you can talk openly is invaluable,” said Nathalie Walker, external affairs director at Cambridge Judge Business School. BCG hired dozens of MBAs from INSEAD, Columbia and Chicago Booth last year.

Most corporations have upped their gender diversity initiatives in recent years. Candice Morgan, senior director at Catalyst, the women’s advocacy group, said most of the Fortune 100 and FTSE 100 firms are investing in women’s networks.

Consultancy firms are among the leaders. The National Association for Female Executives recently ranked companies on diversity. KPMG and EY, two top advisory firms, are ranked in the top-10.

Kathy Hopinkah Hannan, KPMG managing partner for diversity, said: “Our women leaders play a critical role in maintaining...[A] high performing, inclusive and purpose-driven culture.”

Karyn Twaronite, EY global diversity and inclusiveness officer, said that diverse teams are higher-performing. “Gender diversity enhances our workplace, the experiences of our people and, ultimately, the service we deliver,” she added.  

Consultancy firms have sought to provide financial support for female MBA candidates.

Research shows that there is an under-representation of women pursuing postgraduate management education, and that a core barrier to participation is financial resources.

A lack of women at the top, and the persistent gender wage gap, mean some women may not have the financial means to take time out of work to study, according to business schools.

Deloitte runs the MBA Visionary Program and Scholarship – an initiative to attract diverse MBA talent. The firm offers scholarship funding of $15,000 to women and ethnic minorities who land a spot on its associate program.

BCG offers a scholarship to female MBA applicants to support their study. It is available to students at schools including Melbourne Business School and the University of Western Australia.

Such initiatives have yielded results for some. A.T. Kearney, which hires from Duke Fuqua and Michigan Ross business schools, has leadership roles comprised of 40% women partners.

Professional women’s networks for MBAs, such as HEC Paris’ Women In Leadership Club and the Women in Business Society at UBC Sauder, aim to develop links to top consultancy firms.

Dr Dianne Bevelander, director of the Erasmus Centre for Women and Organizations at Rotterdam School of Management, said: “Business schools are the perfect place for many women to begin understanding, building and honing valuable professional networks.”