3

Women in Consulting-Germany (MBB, 2nd Tier)

Hallo, my question is specific to Germany/DACH region but I'd be curious about the rest of the world too in terms of promoting equality/diversity amongst staff.

A friend told me a lot of management consulting firms are hiring a lot of people this year (DACH region, she works in Austria, her consulting friends in Germany and they are all male). When I went to a Jobmesse recently in Berlin the MBB, Roland Berger, AT Kearney, etc. were all there, and there was probably 1 woman working at those booths for every 15 men (that's generous). Some booths had 8 people working and zero were women.

Obviously consulting is still a more male-dominated business-I'm wondering if in Germany/DACH this will help/hurt/not impact my chances of getting an interview/being hired, particularly if I'm seeking a full career in consulting (Partner track), not the two year up and out. Do they have certain quotas they are filling? My friend didn't know but said she's usually the only female on a team.

According to every MBB/other website they are doing a lot to improve equality of the sexes in their employees in terms of numbers/ranks, etc. but I'm wondering how much of that is talk and how much is real? It's very 'trendy' for firms to promote diversity/equality at the moment, which is a good thing of course, but only if they actually follow through.

Even on this site I'm guessing it's only 20% women, so I'm just curious. Vielen Dank!

Hallo, my question is specific to Germany/DACH region but I'd be curious about the rest of the world too in terms of promoting equality/diversity amongst staff.

A friend told me a lot of management consulting firms are hiring a lot of people this year (DACH region, she works in Austria, her consulting friends in Germany and they are all male). When I went to a Jobmesse recently in Berlin the MBB, Roland Berger, AT Kearney, etc. were all there, and there was probably 1 woman working at those booths for every 15 men (that's generous). Some booths had 8 people working and zero were women.

Obviously consulting is still a more male-dominated business-I'm wondering if in Germany/DACH this will help/hurt/not impact my chances of getting an interview/being hired, particularly if I'm seeking a full career in consulting (Partner track), not the two year up and out. Do they have certain quotas they are filling? My friend didn't know but said she's usually the only female on a team.

According to every MBB/other website they are doing a lot to improve equality of the sexes in their employees in terms of numbers/ranks, etc. but I'm wondering how much of that is talk and how much is real? It's very 'trendy' for firms to promote diversity/equality at the moment, which is a good thing of course, but only if they actually follow through.

Even on this site I'm guessing it's only 20% women, so I'm just curious. Vielen Dank!

3 answers

  • Upvotes
  • Date ascending
  • Date descending
Best Answer

Hi Anonymous,

first of all a disclaimer: I am a man, so I definitely have blind spots here and there and maybe see things for better than they really are. But I'll do my best to give an objective answer.

All your questions are justified and the observations are 100% correct.

Consulting is still male-dominated, and the more senior it gets the more so. Tons of reasons for that, many of them related to compatibility of consultant lifestyle with family.

The good news is that I believe that the industry has relatively little gender bias or gender discrimination, especially when it comes to recruiting. The firms in Germany that I have worked for and with or that I know well from close friends (Horváth & Partners, goetzpartners, BCG, Bain, McKinsey, SMP, EY, to name a few) are very conscious of this imbalance and actively try to work against that.

So I believe that being a woman definitely doesn't hurt your chances during the recruiting process. It may even help just a little bit (but really only a little bit).

During work, you'll obviously encounter the everyday sexism both from clients and colleagues. Consulting is not a safe haven from that, although you'll mostly be working with young, highly educated and relatively progressive, open-minded individuals (as colleagues), so there are definitely worse places. I hope this sexism doesn't manifest itself too much in your formal evaluations and feedback on your work, but it will definitely happen in everyday situations. Sorry about that!

Regarding the long-term: That is up to you. I believe the way to senior roles is wide open for women. But, consulting is a really tough job to align with family, even under the best of circumstances and even for men in more traditional family settings (man as the sole / main breadwinner). So I am aware that the sacrifices that are demanded from women to get there and the conflicts regarding expectations are infinitesimally higher for women than for men.

I can only encourage you to try to be a trailblazer because our industry needs more of them. But I am aware that it's asking a lot.

Hope this helps,

Elias

Hi Anonymous,

first of all a disclaimer: I am a man, so I definitely have blind spots here and there and maybe see things for better than they really are. But I'll do my best to give an objective answer.

All your questions are justified and the observations are 100% correct.

Consulting is still male-dominated, and the more senior it gets the more so. Tons of reasons for that, many of them related to compatibility of consultant lifestyle with family.

The good news is that I believe that the industry has relatively little gender bias or gender discrimination, especially when it comes to recruiting. The firms in Germany that I have worked for and with or that I know well from close friends (Horváth & Partners, goetzpartners, BCG, Bain, McKinsey, SMP, EY, to name a few) are very conscious of this imbalance and actively try to work against that.

So I believe that being a woman definitely doesn't hurt your chances during the recruiting process. It may even help just a little bit (but really only a little bit).

During work, you'll obviously encounter the everyday sexism both from clients and colleagues. Consulting is not a safe haven from that, although you'll mostly be working with young, highly educated and relatively progressive, open-minded individuals (as colleagues), so there are definitely worse places. I hope this sexism doesn't manifest itself too much in your formal evaluations and feedback on your work, but it will definitely happen in everyday situations. Sorry about that!

Regarding the long-term: That is up to you. I believe the way to senior roles is wide open for women. But, consulting is a really tough job to align with family, even under the best of circumstances and even for men in more traditional family settings (man as the sole / main breadwinner). So I am aware that the sacrifices that are demanded from women to get there and the conflicts regarding expectations are infinitesimally higher for women than for men.

I can only encourage you to try to be a trailblazer because our industry needs more of them. But I am aware that it's asking a lot.

Hope this helps,

Elias

(edited)

Thank you so much for your detailed and well-thought out message Elias! I hope it gets upvoted a lot so other women on here can see it. From everything I've learned so far about this business (including the difficult parts/sacrifices), I want to start from the beginning with an aim for a senior role as I think I'm well-suited for it. Thank you for the encouragement and kind words! — Anonymous on Sep 20, 2018

Thanks for your feedback. I wish you the very best of luck in pursuing your dream and being a trailblazer. — Anonymous on Sep 21, 2018 (edited)

Book a coaching with Guennael

99% Recommendation Rate

266 Meetings

1,305 Q&A Upvotes

USD 269 / Coaching

I think Elias is right: consulting is hard to women (hard for everyone, but even more so for young mothers). Here are 3 data points to support this:

1. BCG's top leadership is 35% female: https://www.bcg.com/about/people/leadership.aspx

2. SP500's CEOs, 25% female:https://www.catalyst.org/knowledge/women-ceos-sp-500

3. SP500's board members, 22% female:https://www.briefinggovernance.com/2017/12/as-spencer-stuart-releases-its-latest-sp-500-board-index-how-does-your-board-compare/

Consultancies want the best people, regardless of gender, origin, sexual preference... If you are good, they'll do their best to (a) hire you, and (b) keep you. One of my BCG principals had special travel arrangements for example, allowing her to come home mid-week every time. Tough on her due to extra travel, but important as a young mom. She stayed at BCG as a result, and was recently elected Partner.

Viel Glueck!

I think Elias is right: consulting is hard to women (hard for everyone, but even more so for young mothers). Here are 3 data points to support this:

1. BCG's top leadership is 35% female: https://www.bcg.com/about/people/leadership.aspx

2. SP500's CEOs, 25% female:https://www.catalyst.org/knowledge/women-ceos-sp-500

3. SP500's board members, 22% female:https://www.briefinggovernance.com/2017/12/as-spencer-stuart-releases-its-latest-sp-500-board-index-how-does-your-board-compare/

Consultancies want the best people, regardless of gender, origin, sexual preference... If you are good, they'll do their best to (a) hire you, and (b) keep you. One of my BCG principals had special travel arrangements for example, allowing her to come home mid-week every time. Tough on her due to extra travel, but important as a young mom. She stayed at BCG as a result, and was recently elected Partner.

Viel Glueck!

Book a coaching with Clara

100% Recommendation Rate

39 Meetings

4,367 Q&A Upvotes

USD 209 / Coaching

Feel try to send me private message to chat about my experience. I was also part of Women at Mck.

Cheers!

Feel try to send me private message to chat about my experience. I was also part of Women at Mck.

Cheers!

Related BootCamp article(s)

Which companies are currently using written tests ?

All major firms like McKinsey, BCG and Bain use tests to assess a candidate's analytical skills. However the design of those tests can differ a lot.

Related case(s)

Roland Berger Case: Onlinestar

Solved 35.1k times
Roland Berger Case: Onlinestar Onlinestar, an online retailer of furniture and garden products (core business), has grown significantly in recent years as a result of an expansion of its product portfolio. The company mainly imports goods from Chinese manufacturers but also operates its own production of cat lavatories (special business) in Eastern Europe. The company sells its goods via Amazon and ebay, and recently via an online shop on its website. Despite this development, the financial ratios have deteriorated in recent years. In particular, gross profit margin decreased significantly. Combined with a significant increase in shipping costs, this led to a negative result for the first time in the recently ended fiscal year and a resulting strained financial situation. Against the background of expected stagnating sales for the current financial year, short-term action is required. The board of Onlinestar asks you for an analysis of the reasons for the negative result as well as a derived recommendation for action. As a consultant, you should bring in your knowledge in online trading and develop solutions. In addition, the management board would like to receive a sales and gross profit plan from you for the current financial year.
4.3 5 742
| Rating: (4.3 / 5.0)

Onlinestar, an online retailer of furniture and garden products (core business), has grown significantly in recent years as a result of an expansion of its product portfolio. The company mainly imports goods from Chinese manufacturers but also operates its own production of cat lavatories (special b ... Open whole case

Espresso, Whatelse?

Solved 2.3k times
Espresso, Whatelse? Espresso Whatelse is an Italian company that produces coffee and espresso machines since 1908. It is the Italian market leader and has a strong presence overall in Europe. In 2019, Espresso Whatelse has increased its revenues but it has seen declining profit margin. Your client wants to understand the root causes of this 2019 trend and how to increase its profit margin again.  
4.6 5 105
| Rating: (4.6 / 5.0)

Espresso Whatelse is an Italian company that produces coffee and espresso machines since 1908. It is the Italian market leader and has a strong presence overall in Europe. In 2019, Espresso Whatelse has increased its revenues but it has seen declining profit margin. Your client wants to understand ... Open whole case

MBB Final Round Case - Smart Education

Solved 1.4k times
MBB Final Round Case - Smart Education Your client is SmartBridge, a nonprofit educational institution offering face-to-face tutoring services. The client operates in the US. The mission of SmartBridge is to help as many students as possible to complete studies and prevent that they drop from the school system, in particular in disadvantaged areas. The client is considering starting operations for its services in the Chicago area. They hired us to understand if that makes sense. Due to the nonprofit regulation, SmartBridge should operate on its own in the market, without any partnership. How would you help our client?
4.7 5 50
| Rating: (4.7 / 5.0)

Your client is SmartBridge, a nonprofit educational institution offering face-to-face tutoring services. The client operates in the US. The mission of SmartBridge is to help as many students as possible to complete studies and prevent that they drop from the school system, in particular in disadvan ... Open whole case

Coronavirus Times - COVID-19 Brainteaser

Solved 600+ times
Coronavirus Times - COVID-19 Brainteaser You and your family are faced with a challenging set of decisions. Due to coronavirus, your partner has taken a 20% paycut and you are worried you may lose your job. In addition, while daycare is still open, you are worried that sending your two children there will increase the risk of them bringing the virus back to your house, where your elderly grandparents are also staying. How would you go about thinking about this problem, and what would you recommend?
4.5 5 22
| Rating: (4.5 / 5.0)
Difficulty: Beginner | Style: Brain Teaser | Topics: Brain teaser

You and your family are faced with a challenging set of decisions. Due to coronavirus, your partner has taken a 20% paycut and you are worried you may lose your job. In addition, while daycare is still open, you are worried that sending your two children there will increase the risk of them bringing ... Open whole case

Chinese Chess - Airline Business During COVID-19

Solved 500+ times
Chinese Chess - Airline Business During COVID-19 Sky China, a government-backed Chinese airline, has recently seen profits plummet due to COVID-19. Profits are down 80% in the months of February and March, but are showing early signs of a rebound in April.  They've brought you in to first investigate what can be done immediatedly to prevent hemorrhaging cash and surive in the short-term. They are also looking to see how the current situation can be viewed as an opportunity, and what can be done to prepare for the future. 
4.3 5 14
| Rating: (4.3 / 5.0)

Sky China, a government-backed Chinese airline, has recently seen profits plummet due to COVID-19. Profits are down 80% in the months of February and March, but are showing early signs of a rebound in April. They've brought you in to first investigate what can be done immediatedly to prevent hemor ... Open whole case