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The Road Less Travelled

A look into the path to Partnership in Management Consultancies for women

At Sheffield Haworth, we’ve always believed passionately in the importance of people and in the impact they have on business performance.

The recruitment, retention and promotion of women remains one of the biggest issues for consulting firms. Despite the many wide-ranging initiatives designed to resolve this, the results, especially at senior levels, continue to be disappointing. The direction may be clear, but the pace of change is still too slow.

Although much has been written on the subject of gender diversity, we wanted to obtain some deeper insights about how the women who have made it to senior positions in consulting firms were able to do so, and what they see as the barriers to more women joining their ranks.

To do this we’ve joined forces with Source Global Research, who specialise in researching the consulting industry, and share our interest in ensuring there are more women at its senior levels. Source had already undertaken analysis showing that there’s a strong commercial case for more women consultants on teams – clients believe diversity delivers a better overall result. So, for this study, Sheffield Haworth spent more than 80 hours interviewing partners in consulting firms, both men and women. Often amusing, rarely the same, but always inspiring, we’ve used their views to draw out some consistent themes about what’s helped – and in some cases hindered – women on their path into the partnership and even onto senior partner roles. These women, who include some of the most successful partners in their field, have been genuine trailblazers, both within their organisations and for the industry as a whole – future generations will be indebted to them.

This report shares these insights as part of our contribution to advancing the debate about how to achieve greater partner parity amongst the sexes. We hope you enjoy reading it and we’d love to discuss how our findings apply in your own firm and what we can all do to accelerate the pace of change.

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