How important is it for women in business to have a leader who sponsors and mentors them?

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We are in the business of people.  Our best and most impactful work is done when we understand who our clients are, what they need to achieve, and how we can help support them as successful leaders.  We do this by bringing empathetic, intelligent, hardworking team members together on particular challenges. It’s all about people serving people.

Given people are the key driver to our success as a Firm, it only makes sense that we prioritize talent development, career guidance, and professional support for everyone, regardless of level, gender, or background. Yet, this is International Women’s Month, so we’ll focus on the importance of these enablers specifically for women in Consulting.

By the numbers, we know that women in Consulting firms tends to drop off at the Manager level and beyond.  This generally correlates to a time in women’s lives when they begin to start their own families, yet we also know Consulting firms benefit greatly from gender diversification on teams, the ability of women to serve as strong Project Managers, and the beneficial role women can play in relationship management with clients.  So, what can be done to retain more women in senior Consulting roles?

Deloitte, as a global firm, ranks highly as an attractive workplace for women thanks to flexible work policies and programs, including Deloitte’s mentorship programs, yet it’s the mentorship or sponsorship of a single individual that has the ability to affect the greatest positive impact on a woman’s day-to-day life in Consulting.  Having the right mentor who cares about you as an individual, who is actively invested in your professional success, and who can provide guidance and support across various situations and decisions is invaluable in navigating the complexities and challenges of Consulting.

Some of the most successful and enjoyable periods of my Consulting career have come as a direct result of the mentorship or sponsorship I’ve been fortunate to receive.  At the hands of both male and female mentors, I’ve navigated difficult client situations, made critical career decisions, and realized success on a reduced schedule.  I truly believe I would have moved on from Consulting by now if it were not for their input and support along the way, and I now have a handful of senior leaders from across my Consulting career that I consider to be “lifelong” mentors.

It’s worth noting that mentorship relationships are a two-way street.  I’ve been paired with Counselors and others who have not always been a perfect fit for various reasons, and I’ve moved on from those people.  You should feel a responsibility to yourself and your own career to seek out the leaders you believe can offer you the type of guidance and support you need to be successful, and this will change over the course of your career.  One of my mentors recently said to me, “I’m proud of you – because you asked for help”.  There are times when opportunities will come to you because of your network, but there will be times as well when you’ll need to be proactive in seeking the help you need.

We are in the business of people.  As a woman – as anyone – who wants to be successful in Consulting, my advice is not to try and do it alone.  Seek out other people who can share their wisdom, experiences, and support with you along the way.

by: Whitney Chamberlain, Director, Consulting, Deloitte, Middle East

The views and opinions expressed herein do not represent nor reflect those of Deloitte. Deloitte shall endeavor, as reasonably as possible, to screen such information which is obtained, to the best of Deloitte’s knowledge, from reliable source. As such, Deloitte cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information featured nor the validity of the opinions and/or analysis and interpretation expressed herein. Opinions, conclusions and other information in this interview/article which have not been delivered by way of the business of Deloitte are neither given nor endorsed by it.

This article contains general information only, and neither DTME, DTME affiliates nor any of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited member firms are, by means of this article, rendering any accounting, business, financial, investment, legal, tax, or other professional advice or services of any nature whatsoever. Information included in the article is not a substitute for such professional advice or services, nor should it be used as a basis for any decision or action that may affect your finances or your business. Before making any decision or taking any action that may affect your finances or your business, you should consult a qualified professional adviser. None of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, its member firms, or its respective affiliates shall be responsible for any loss or damages whatsoever sustained by any person who relies on this publication.

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