The Management Consultancies Association (MCA) has launched the fourth in a series of toolkits aimed at sharing best practice and helping to continue efforts to improve the diversity and inclusion of the consulting sector. The latest guidance focuses on retaining a diverse workforce and enabling individuals to thrive in consulting. The series of toolkits have now been downloaded over 10,500 times and aim to improve the diversity and inclusion practices for MCA member firms. 

In addition to the toolkits, there has also been record participation in the MCA Diversity and Inclusion Working Group which brings MCA member firms across the sector together to share experiences and best practice. The group has hosted a number of events this year including ‘The Diversity Challenges of AI’ and ‘Best Practice for Disability in the Workplace’ with Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson as well as a future event on ‘Creating an Authentic Professional Brand’ aimed at young consultants in celebration of Pride month.  MCA member firms also commit to diversity and inclusion within their workplace and workforce as part of the Consulting Excellence principles that they adopt. 

The first three parts of the MCA’s D&I Toolkits focused on attracting, recruiting and onboarding a diverse range of talent. The fourth edition, launched today, focuses on retaining a diverse workforce and explores how to retain talent by ensuring client working is inclusive, and by supporting the various career pathways that consultants may choose to follow in order to succeed in their career.  

The guide provides key considerations when working with clients. The toolkit states: “A consultancy’s role as a trusted advisor can see consultants working intensively with clients at multiple levels of an organisation, including embedding consultants within client firms’ teams as they deliver projects at pace. Consultancies serve over ten thousand companies across multiple sectors and countries and every client is unique. Often the relationship is hugely positive. These joint projects demonstrate the power of working in partnerships and learning from different organisations and cultures across the UK and further afield. In the context of D&I, however, this system can present some unique challenges, whether in relation to physical considerations – such as travel to client site, on-site working, or travel to particular geographies – or flexibility concerns. In addition, different clients may be at a different stage of development in their diversity and inclusion work, and this can mean consultants are exposed to a range of experiences and factors that they need support to deal with. Sometimes it can be highly beneficial, and we can learn from our clients and their D&I progress; and other times we may need to challenge behaviours and deal with unexpected issues.” 

A key aspect of success for talent development is increasing awareness on the barriers and biases impacting underrepresented groups. Career pathways provide an organised approach to career planning, through the clear understanding of skills and competency-based paths for employee advancement in companies. This may include determining training and development needs and establishing an action plan for reaching career goals. In this way, career pathways instil a culture of transparency within firms which may encourage employee satisfaction and retention – particularly among those with D&I characteristics.  

In creating career pathways, firms are proactively addressing the potential inequity at leadership levels among employees from varying backgrounds with targeted support and career guidance. By identifying the required skills and competencies for employees to reach various roles and career stages in a transparent and clearly communicated way, leadership can determine what available professional resources and training employees may need to undertake to gain such skills. Employees are also empowered to make informed decisions and pursue growth opportunities within the firm.  

Twenty case studies of best practice are included in the toolkit and came from MCA member firms Arup; Cadence Innova; Deloitte; PwC; Mott MacDonald; CF; IBM; Arcadis; Eviden, an Atos Business; AtkinsRéalis; Gate One; KPMG, North Highland and Cognizant. 

Tamzen Isacsson, Chief Executive of the Management Consultancies Association, said:  

“We know that our long term success as an industry depends upon us making the most of all the talent that is out there right across the UK. We are proud that our industry is leading the way and our firms are top employers of women, people from ethnic minority backgrounds and those with social mobility characteristics. That is the reality of modern British consulting. While we have made great progress, as our MCA Annual Industry Report data shows us, we still have much further to go if we are to truly reflect the society we represent. We are pleased to be publishing this latest toolkit today focused on retaining talent and we hope that it helps all firms on their journey.” 

Elizabeth Adeoye, Co-Chair of the MCA Diversity and Inclusion Working Group and Senior People & Change Management Consultant at Moorhouse Consulting, added:

“Consulting firms of all sizes are increasing their efforts to retain a diverse workforce and to implement inclusive working practices to enable their staff, and more broadly their organisations, to thrive. Workplace diversity is critical for a company’s long-term success and facilitates the influx of fresh ideas, practices, and experiences. In an increasingly diverse business landscape, where people of different ethnicities, religions, nationalities, sexualities, physical and neuro-abilities and other characteristics are connecting and working together, it is important that firms implement management practices and policies and support company cultures that ensure the retainment of a diverse and inclusive workforce.”

Pavithra Neelagiri,  Cognizant and Young MCA Vice Chair for Diversity and Inclusion, said: 

“As a young consultant, navigating the early stages of my career, the clarity of the career progression within an organisation and its commitment to diversity & inclusion (D&I) are critical factors that I consider before joining. It’s encouraging when a firm not only outlines a clear path that anticipates the diverse needs of its young consultants but also demonstrates this commitment through visible role models and senior leaders from similar backgrounds as mine. This approach not only fosters a sense of belonging but also provides a tangible roadmap for success, tailored to diverse experiences and perspectives. A firm that actively develops its young talent and acknowledges the importance of diverse role models truly stands out to me, showing that they invest deeply in their people’s growth and the richness of their diverse experiences.” 

Following the toolkits on Attraction, Recruitment, Onboarding and Retention, the MCA will be producing further ones including on Development. It comes as the latest MCA Member Survey revealed that one in five (20%) consultants are actively seeking a new role and only half (55%) anticipate being in the consulting industry in five years. Worryingly, more employees from ethnic minority backgrounds are actively seeking new roles (32% versus 16% of white employees). Nine in ten (92%) of consultants do however believe that their firm is actively taking steps to become more inclusive.  

For further information on the MCA Diversity and Inclusion Working Group and how to access the toolkit, please go to Diversity and Inclusion Working Group – MCA