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7 steps to close the gender gap in consulting

The consulting industry has long struggled with gender diversity, with women underrepresented at all levels. According to a study by the Harvard Business Review, only 22% of partners in major consulting firms are women. This gender gap persists throughout the industry, with a noticeable drop-off from entry-level positions to leadership roles.


Gundula Pally, Managing Director at Roland Berger, a European-based consultancy, provides insights into how the company is tackling this issue head-on. Here’s a closer look at how Roland Berger is closing the gender gap and what the industry can learn from their approach.


birgit rechberger-krammer

"Without clear objectives and a serious change agenda from the top management, progress is usually too slow. And we have no time to lose." - Gundula Pally


top-down accountability


It all starts at the top. Management at Roland Berger is committed to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), setting clear objectives and driving progress through a serious change agenda. This top-down accountability ensures that DEI remains a priority across the organization. "Without clear objectives and a serious change agenda from the top management, progress is usually too slow," emphasizes Gundula. This commitment from leadership is crucial for driving meaningful change.



commitment to core values


Roland Berger’s culture is built on empathy, entrepreneurship, and excellence. From day one, all employees are encouraged to contribute ideas and help shape the company culture, fostering an inclusive environment. "Everybody is asked to bring in ideas and contribute to our culture – from day one," says Gundula Pally. This commitment to core values creates a foundation where diverse perspectives can thrive.



fostering diverse perspectives


The company believes that diverse backgrounds are crucial for success. Emphasizing diverse perspectives and backgrounds, Roland Berger ensures these elements are integral to its success in consulting and client projects. "We believe that diverse perspectives, backgrounds, and talents are decisive for our success," states Gundula. By prioritizing diversity in hiring and team composition, Roland Berger fosters a variety of perspectives and ideas, leading to more creative solutions for clients.



authenticity at the core


Employees at Roland Berger are encouraged to be their authentic selves. This authenticity is seen as essential for building trust with clients and achieving success in consulting. "We want everybody to be their authentic selves, because only an authentic consultant can be successful and gain our clients’ trust," explains Gundula. This focus on authenticity helps create a supportive environment where employees feel valued for who they are.



taking action towards gender diversity


Roland Berger has made significant progress in gender diversity, thanks to specific programs, training, and coaching to support female employees and ensure women are present in management positions. "We offer specific programs, trainings and coaching to support female colleagues and also make sure that women are represented in management boards," highlights Gundula. These initiatives help women advance their careers and break through the glass ceiling.



measuring progress with transparency


An integral part of fostering a diverse and inclusive environment is measuring progress through specific metrics. As Gundula highlights, transparency and accountability are key principles, noting that Roland Berger operates on the motto: “What gets measured gets done.”


They consistently review several KPIs regarding diversity and inclusion through regular business reviews and incorporate these metrics into their ESG reporting. Additionally, Gundula emphasizes how "the rising number of members of our employee resource groups" indicates active engagement that positively shapes the company culture.


Roland Berger collaborates with partner organizations to reinforce its commitments and participates in certification audits like “Beruf & Familie,” which the firm has regularly re-certified since 2005. These transparent practices are designed to ensure that their inclusive strategies and structures yield tangible results over time.



flexible and supportive structures


Roland Berger offers flexible working arrangements, parental leave options, and mentorship programs. These structures support employees’ personal and professional development, helping to retain top talent and promote gender diversity. "Flexible working arrangements are something we offer for all employees," states Gundula. This flexibility allows employees to balance their personal and professional lives, making the company an attractive place to work.



paving the way for gender diversity in consulting


The consulting industry has a long way to go in closing the gender gap, but Roland Berger’s approach provides a valuable blueprint. By prioritizing DEI and implementing targeted initiatives, the company demonstrates that fostering an inclusive environment is not only possible but essential for success. Other consulting firms can learn from Roland Berger's strategies to create a more equitable and innovative industry. As Roland Berger continues to make progress, it sets an example for the industry on how to effectively close the gender gap and promote diversity and inclusion.



about Gundula:


Gundula is Managing Partner of Roland Berger in Austria. She is married and has two wonderful daughters.


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