Helping women get ahead

Boston Consulting Group's aim to help women succeed in the male-dominated world of consulting is why it's No. 3 on the Best Companies to Work For list.

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By Christopher Tkaczyk, reporter
September 16, 2009: 9:04 AM ET

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Hans-Paul Bürkner, CEO of Boston Consulting Group, has prioritized helping women succeed.
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Why I work here
Lucy Brady, a partner and retail consultant at Boston Consulting Group
"Right after I had my third baby, my husband fell seriously ill. I was shocked at the support that I received from my colleagues. They didn't just help me tie up loose ends with the client, they even offered help with doctor referrals."

(Fortune Magazine) -- Since its founding in 1963, the privately held Boston Consulting Group has grown from a small firm to a global enterprise with $2.4 billion in revenue and 66 offices in 38 countries.

But one thing hasn't changed: Consulting tends to attract an overwhelming majority of men with MBAs. So when Hans-Paul Bürkner started as CEO in 2003, he vowed to focus on diversity, specifically the recruitment and retention of women.

Now liaisons relate the needs of female employees to management, mentors provide off-the-record advice, and an annual women's conference is held to focus on career development.

There are currently three women on the executive committee -- six years ago there were none -- and women account for one-third of the firm's 4,500 consultants. Bürkner shared his strategies for keeping women of all levels engaged.

Value what they bring to the table.
"Very often women are highly effective change agents because they have on average strong social skills. A number of our clients are in industries where a majority of customers are women, and they rightly assume that women better understand other women."

Help build self-confidence.
"I've found that women generally have the capabilities to succeed but sometimes need help developing confidence. We coach female partners, principals, and project leaders one-on-one."

Don't "mommy track" women with kids.
"One of our female partners had four girls over 14 years while working part-time, and she was out a number of years while she took care of the newborns. Yes, it took her a while to become a partner, and it wasn't easy, but I think there are very few places that allow so much flexibility."

Perks that work

Part-time scheduling.
Many employees, women as well as men, are on a 60% or 80% work arrangement to accommodate family needs. A typical 60% part-time schedule is two full days and two half days per week.

Generous leave.
Employees of any level can take a leave of absence of up to one year -- for any reason -- and have their job waiting for them when they return. Beyond the 12-week paid maternity leave for full- and part-timers, new moms can extend their unpaid leave up to one year. The policy also applies to adoptions.

Top medical benefits.
Unlimited fertility coverage, no premiums, broad coverage, extremely low co-pays (typically $5), and coverage for part-timers who work 20 hours a week. To top of page

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