Independent Consulting Expands Opportunities For Professional Women
Gender balance across the professional “talent economy” reflects a failure of large firms on flexibility and work/life balance
Rapid growth in demand for independent consultants is creating new scope for senior women to progress well-paid, high-level professional careers alongside the demands of caring for dependents, Odgers Connect, the consulting arm of leading global executive search firm Odgers Berndtson said today.
Women often account for as little as 20% of senior roles in established professional services firms but, in the independent sector, the gender split is far more equal. Of the independent consultants it has recently placed on top projects and assignments for employers, Odgers Connect said today that over 40% are female – roughly twice the level of women working at the top level in established management consulting firms.
"Failure of the established firms to encourage women has meant a lack of role models at senior levels. Narrowly defined parameters for success lead to a loss of talent with women looking at alternative options which offer more choice" said Charlotte Gregson, Principal, Odgers Connect. “Rising demand for independent consultants should enable many more senior professional women to progress their careers at a high level and increase the overall supply of more flexible, high quality work,” she added.
A European study of 250 employers by Source Global Research, just published by Odgers Connect, found that attitudes to professional services are changing. Increasingly organisations hire fewer permanent professional staff and need greater flexibility. They believe independent consultants best provide this, also scoring highly on quality and price – with demand in all areas growing as a result.
The representation of women in independent consulting is comparable with the numbers of women in other professions working for themselves in the UK at around 43% (source IPSE). However, the study by Source Global Research notes that employers’ growing demand for more flexibility is having a disproportionately big impact at the top-end, in consulting.
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