The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) was founded on the belief more than 50 years ago that the best answers for clients came through diversity of thought. Our founder Bruce Henderson encouraged all consultants—even the most junior members on a team—to engage in vigorous debate and exploration.
We quickly realized that we could not truly have diversity of thought without diversity of people. “When we staff a team with different backgrounds and experiences, we leverage that diversity to bring insight to the table. If you only have people who are similar in mindset and background, you will only get a subset of the best ideas,” said Michael Sherman, a Dallas-based partner in BCG’s Technology, Media & Telecommunications practice, whom Savoy Magazine has named as one of the “Top 100 Most Influential Blacks in Corporate America”.
BCG is proud to be recognized as a great place to work for LGBT employees and women by the Human Rights Campaign and Working Mother Magazine, respectively, and as one of the “50 Best Places Workplaces for Diversity” by Fortune Magazine.
While these honors are gratifying, we also recognize that we have more to do to be truly diverse and inclusive. In the U.S., women represent 45 percent of BCG employees, 44 percent of management positions, and 26 percent of executive positions. Ethnic minorities represent 28 percent of employees, 23 percent of management positions, and 15 percent of executive positions in the U.S.
Compared to many other organizations, these are laudable numbers. But we are continuously working to improve. In the past year, we have provided unconscious bias training for all managers including partners. We have also broadened our recruiting efforts and strengthened internal mentorship and affiliation programs (see http://www.bcg.com/diversity).
Diversity and inclusion are hard work for not only consulting firms. Following last year’s release of diversity data, Silicon Valley companies acknowledged that they need to do better. We recently studied diversity in Silicon Valley and produced a publication, Closing the Diversity Gap in Silicon Valley (see bcgperspectives/siliconvalleydiversity)
The solutions for Silicon Valley suggested in the Closing the Diversity Gap are similar to those that we are implementing at BCG.
First, there needs to be recognition that diversity is both the right thing to do and makes business sense. Diverse companies outperform homogenous ones.
Second, diversity needs to be a CEO priority. Without support from the top, the pressures of everyday business and forces of inertia will overpower diversity initiatives.
Third, diversity demands transparency. Organizations cannot improve if they do not understand where they stand. Diversity is as much a retention as a recruitment challenge. It is critical for organization to go beyond the numbers and understand qualitatively why women and minorities leave.
Finally, diversity simply makes common sense. By around 2020, more than half of U.S. children will be members of a minority race or ethnicity. By 2044 or so, non-Hispanic whites will be in the minority.
In Silicon Valley, venture capital firms provide the money, mentorship, and connections that have helped fuel the region’s phenomenal growth. The startups they fund are also a key source of talent. To build a rainbow in Silicon Valley, these firms need to be part of the solution.
Top-tier management consulting firms like BCG play a somewhat similar role. Many of our strongest consultants ultimately rise to leadership positions in the public and private sectors. We want to ensure that our alumni are representative of the communities that they serve.
At BCG, an environment of openness and mutual respect—where all viewpoints are heard, regardless of an individual’s background—is absolutely essential to our success. We are committed to creating an inclusive culture that celebrates diversity and provides all individuals an opportunity to flourish and grow.
Partner and Managing Director, The Boston Consulting Group (BCG)