• Women at middle management are unhappy with their work-life balance – and unable to be honest about work and home pressures

• The majority (93 per cent) need ‘realistic’ senior women role models...

A new report released today (8th March 2017), based on a survey[1] which included many of the top twenty consulting firms in the world, has found that almost half of women at middle management level in the industry (48 per cent) are unhappy with their work-life balance, compared to two thirds of men who are happy.

The Source Global Research report, in association with Unida and sponsored by EY, says that these women find themselves in the ‘pinched middle’ - just as they’re expected to be at full-throttle in their career, they are also becoming busier at home. The report provides practical steps consulting firms can take to help women through this challenging stage of their career and life.

One of the biggest issues highlighted in the report is that while a consulting firm may boast flexible working policies, or that it has fulfilling part-time roles, it can be ignored at partner or director level. This frustrates women, who know that a big consulting firm should be able to do more for them.

This lack of empathy at a senior level is having a significant impact with:
? Almost two thirds (58 per cent) of women unable to be honest about work and home pressures.
? Over a third (41 per cent) of women say their firm pays lip service to gender diversity.
? Almost two thirds (61 per cent) of women say it’s seen as career-limiting to take advantage of the opportunities around flexible working and maternity leave.
? 93 per cent of women are more likely to stay in the industry if they had more female role models they can relate to.

Alison Huntington from Source Global Research said:
“Management consulting firms have struggled to retain women and promote them to the highest ranks for some time. But while they are acutely aware of their diversity issues, and have invested in initiatives and policies aimed at improving the balance, few are specifically designed with the ‘pinched middle’ in mind. New graduates get plenty of support early in their career, but this starts to disappear further up the firm.

Female managers also need realistic role models as they look up - and don’t understand how senior women balance their commitments – or would rather not make the same choices for themselves.”

The report proposes a ten-point framework for change built around the views of managers and senior managers working at global consulting firms across Europe, both male and female. The practical steps for change tackle the following ten issues that managers highlighted:
1. More predictability around travel and workload
2. Greater access to flexible working – and conversations with clients about it
3. Continuity of teams to build trust in flexible arrangements
4. Different career paths and roles that contribute to career progression
5. Clearer and more tailored promotion expectations about more than just revenues
6. Support and training around maternity and unconscious bias
7. Role models people can relate to
8. Feeding the talent pipeline – widen the net for experienced hires
9. Incentivise partners to change their attitudes
10. Empowerment making sure people decide for themselves.

Adrian Edwards, Managing Partner of EMEIA Advisory at EY, concluded:
“At EY, we take this important issue very seriously, and are pleased to have sponsored this important research into the challenges that can face women at a critical stage of their careers: the point where they contemplate the balance of long-term career progression with broader life plans. The findings present hugely valuable feedback for the industry as a whole and we welcome the identification of practical steps that firms can take. EY has been at the forefront of adapting our business to the challenges faced by a new generation of people, however, there’s no room for complacency.”

For more information on this Source Global Research report, How to hold onto talent in the ‘pinched middle’, contact alice.noyelle@sourceglobalresearch.com or telephone +44 (0)20 3795 2668/ visit www.sourceglobalresearch.com.
read more