I do LOVE the inclusive nature of International Women’s Day. It is a movement that unites and brings people from all backgrounds and walks of life together to achieve gender equity. Obviously, this is a 365 day, all year around endeavour, but taking time to reflect and reenergise to ensure we are impacting REAL change is vitally important.

This year’s theme to #InspireInclusion is one really close to my heart. I am the daughter of an immigrant who came to the UK with a few pounds in his pocket when he was 16. He worked his way to an Assistant Manager role at a large department store in Liverpool to be told he wouldn’t get any further because of the colour of his skin. He went on to qualify as a Barrister and ensured I never felt limited to realise my potential as his daughter and as a working woman, mother and wife. I have realised that potential in our incredible Consulting industry and am deeply grateful for the opportunities it has afforded me.

Back in the day, I “fell” into consulting. I studied English and Politics at university and then went into the telecoms, media, and communications sector, working in public affairs, marketing and then customer operations. It is there that I first benefited from the wisdom and experience of female mentors and my first male sponsor, my then MD. When he moved on, I was offered three- very different roles and I realised I was at a career trajectory. I left and joined what was then Price Waterhouse, unaware of what consulting was about, but thinking I would do two years, learn a lot and get to work with lots of different clients. In doing so, I would find the job I really wanted to do.

28 years later I’m still working in Consulting!

Somewhere along that journey I fell in love with what we do. I have had the privilege of supporting brilliant leaders transform their organisations and entire sectors, impacting thousands of working lives for the better. I’ve learned from brilliant colleagues from all walks of life, who have brought different technical expertise and life experiences to help clients solve their most complex challenges and I’ve had the opportunity to lead, coach and mentor hundreds of talented individuals and teams. There is nothing more meaningful to me than seeing amazing people realise their potential, flipping into industry or public service as purposeful leaders or remaining in the sector to become inspirational Partners and colleagues.

I’ve had the privilege of serving global telco, media and utility clients, the Home Office, MoJ and the Police, dedicating the last decade to helping some incredibly committed and resilient leaders improve cultures and outcomes in public safety. Along the way, I’ve also had the opportunity to lead competency teams, take consulting leadership roles to develop talent programmes and exceptional people experiences, support the creation and growth of the EY Foundation which has supported 22,000 young people from low-income backgrounds find pathways into further education and work. I’ve led the acquisition and creation of EYL4, won the programme of the year at the MCA awards and been invited to join the Board of the MCA and chair the MCA Women’s Group.

ALL that opportunity and achievement is down to the doors that were opened for me and hands that were held out to guide or catch me as I tripped.

From the first female Director who recruited me into Price Waterhouse and who went on to be the first female Partner in our team, to the female Client Service Partner who showed me unforgettable kindness during a painful divorce and custody battle. From the female Partner who pushed and supported me to go for Director in Price Waterhouse to the female Partners who have inspired and supported me throughout my time with EY. From the meaningful male sponsors and allies who have been there every step of the way, with two current Consulting and Sector Leaders who are outstanding champions for equity.
I have seen first-hand the power of women being inspired to be included, the sense of belonging, relevance and empowerment that follows – and the outcome that creates – BETTER leadership, BETTER decision-making and a BETTER world for ALL!

So, on this IWD 2024 I hope this short blog inspires YOU to inspire inclusion.

1. You are absolutely in the right place! As a £20bn sector, the Consulting industry has a HUGE role to play fostering equitable and inclusive growth across UK PLC
2. You can make it in YOUR own way. You don’t need to be an alpha stereotype. The future of work is all about listening, asking better questions, and collaborating to get to better answers. We are fortunate to have so many inspiring female role models across the sector who are making huge strides in the structural changes we need to promote and retain female talent.
3. You aren’t alone. This is absolutely a team-game. Inclusion and gender equity isn’t “the women’s problem” to fix. We will only accelerate progress with the personal commitment of great male allies – the men in the Boardroom of our consulting firms and our clients. Working together we can inspire and deliver real change.

Stay in the game. Pull up a chair. Your clients, our industry, your family and community NEED to hear your voice and have YOU take your seat at the table.


Kate Bamford, EY Partner, People Advisory Services