McKinsey Europe launches 1:1 talks with women in leadership

20 May 2020 5 min. read

In a bid to support women in consulting and to boost the gender diversity with the firm, strategy consulting giant McKinsey & Company has launched the ‘Let’s Talk’ initiative.

Despite progress on gender balance in senior levels of global businesses proceeding at a snail’s pace, corporate entities remain hostile to regulation or diversity quotas. At present just 15% of CEO roles are held by women, according to recent research from McKinsey & Company. While progressing, the number of women in leadership positions is also still far from parity.  

As McKinsey looks to boost its own diversity and inclusion across its European business, its new ‘Let’s Talk’ initiative enables women in leadership positions to connect with leaders from the firm. Aimed at experienced career professionals up to the C-suite level who self-identify as women and are based in Europe, McKinsey says the programme is demonstrative of its commitment to improving the representation of women in leadership positions within the firm.

Ana Rita Sousa, Konstanze Reinecke, Ailke Heidemann, Anna KoivuniemiAccording to Katharina Graßmann, Senior Recruiter European Operations Practice at McKinsey, an improved diversity profile will in turn help demonstrate to its clients how diverse teams help get to the best solutions. Let’s Talk is expected to do this by linking experienced career professionals who self-identify as women with McKinsey professionals, who can then act as a bridge for them into the consulting industry.

Explaining the process which follows this first contact, Graßmann said, “A one-on-one meeting with one of our senior colleagues will introduce you to the consulting industry and show you how you could broaden your experience beyond a single organisation or sector. You will be able to ask any questions that are on your mind and exchange ideas on topics that matter to you.”

As with any recruitment process at McKinsey, all registrations will be treated with strict confidentiality, and there is no obligation to move forward if an applicant changes their mind. The initial application consists of a survey, hosted on McKinsey’s careers portal, which interested women will need to complete before June 12th, 2020.

Speaking about what Let’s Talk could help bring to McKinsey, Ana Rita Sousa, an Engagement Manager in Marketing & Sales in Lisbon, noted that people with previous experience “bring a lot of colourful insights to the team” which can help them to develop services which are more responsive to the needs of clients. As “a true believer we need more women at McKinsey”, Sousa further stated there are many impacts McKinsey recruiting experienced professional women can have, internally and externally.

She expanded, “Internally it can be an inspiration for all the women already here, while externally it gives a message for diversity. It also definitely provides more value for the client, as it is proven the more diverse a team is, the more creative it is, the more impact it can make. We need you. We know your industry expertise and your previous background are excellent for us, while you can experience new opportunities, new sectors and new contexts.”

Meanwhile, Konstanze Reinecke, an Associate Partner from McKinsey’s Köln office in Germany, said that a career-change to consulting can also really help broaden a professional’s own horizons. Citing McKinsey’s diversity as “what I enjoyed most on my journey so far” with the firm, Reinecke noted that work in consulting had enabled her to “grow both professionally and personally” by working both locally within Germany and across Europe and Africa, from Copenhagen to Cape Town.

While the state of play at McKinsey means she has already enjoyed working with diverse teams, however, Reinecke is keen to help the firm further strengthen its inclusivity. She confirmed, “I’m very proud to lead the women’s initiative within the Köln office – we aim to strengthen the network between female colleagues, and I enjoy the informal settings in which we exchange our experiences, best practices and support each other.”

Elsewhere, Ailke Heidemann, an Associate Partner in Stuttgart, gave herself as an example of how a move into consulting can help build a diverse range of expertise. Before becoming a consultant, she had earned a Masters and PhD in civil engineering and was a construction manager in Scandinavia, but was keen to push beyond her comfort zone and diversify her realm of knowledge.

She added, “It was McKinsey’s excellent reputation, knowledge, and expertise in capital projects and infrastructure that attracted me to the firm, as well as the opportunity to further build and grow the Operations practice. I particularly appreciate the entrepreneurial spirit in our practice and across the firm – it is part of everyone’s mind-set. The firm fosters an open culture where you can really make your own McKinsey.”

Anna Koivuniemi, a partner at McKinsey in Amsterdam, said “whether you come from a corporate or scale-up, McKinsey can be a place that provides opportunities, and allows professionals to continue to learn.”