• At a recent MCA Women in Consulting network event, firms shared best practice on taking a career break be it for caring responsibilities, taking a sabbatical or for childcare 
  • Firms encouraged to have clear policies in place both pre and post breaks to help enable a successful return to work as well as communications and support from line managers  
  • The MCA launched a new web resource dedicated to sharing best practice across firms and individuals 

The Management Consultancies Association (MCA) recently hosted an online event covering the topic of career breaks, with COVID-19 providing an opportunity to help reset attitudes to flexible working, taking a career break and different working patterns. With the pandemic a chance to improve the working environment for companies and individuals, consultancy firms should promote their policies around career breaks to staffThe MCA also launched a new web resource dedicated to sharing best practice across firms and individuals. 

Subjects covered during the event included the impact of career breaks on career developmentthe benefits to employersthe policies in place to support consultants, the programme of support for when they return as well as the challenges of returning to work after a career break. Many MCA member firms have world class policies and initiatives in this area and the MCA aims to promote best practice and transparency of policies within the sector.  

The panel of MCA members from a range of small, medium and larger firms covered a number of topics at the latest MCA Women in Consulting event – a group which aims to increase representation of women in consulting and help promote more females joining the sector and greater career progression.  

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

 Initiatives such as networking, mentoring, returner programmes and training are all being used by MCA member firms to enable successful returns for those on career breaks. There are some excellent examples of best practice in the sector but this needs to be encouraged in more firms so that businesses can be part of the solution and work with colleagues, both male and female, to see what works best for them. Retaining talent in the consulting sector is a priority for firms and taking a career break should be looked on more positively as staff can bring a wealth of experience to a job, no matter the length of time they have been away. The MCA wants to ensure that consulting as a career is accessible for all and that greater progress is made in achieving these goals as evidenced by data. 

Another topic that was covered in the session was taking sabbaticals and attendees heard from a consultant who had recently returned from a successful career break on how to overcome the ‘fear factor’ of taking time off away from work, how to stay in touch with your employer and how to ensure that personal goals were achieved during the time away. The MCA Annual Report in 2020 revealed that female senior representation at partner-level was 21% compared to an overall 50/50 gender split of consultants. 

 The MCA supports industry efforts to improve progress on diversity and inclusion, implementing best practice and monitoring the diversity of the consultancy sector workforce over time. One of the key areas of focus is promoting women in consulting, championing inspirational stories, sharing ideas and working to encourage women in the sector, to increase progression at senior levels in the industry. The MCA Women in Consulting Working Group meet regularly to discuss important topics within this agenda. 

For further information on MCA Women in Consulting, please go to