How Supporting Women Can Transform a Company by Rich Lesser, President & CEO of BCG

Version 2

    How Supporting Women Can Transform a Company | Rich Lesser | LinkedIn

    June 23, 2015


    Supporting women is a top priority at BCG and one that I strongly believe is integral to building a company filled with the best people.  I recently published an article inThe Huffington Post on BCG's Women's Initiative and wanted to share it with you.

    More than ten years ago, The Boston Consulting Group established a Women's Initiative to increase the number of women at the firm -- as well as the levels of their success and satisfaction. Our work in this area is hardly done, but we believe we've made tremendous progress. Over the past five years, we've seen a 70 percent increase in the number of women in our U.S. consulting ranks. And, five of BCG's female senior partners have been named among Consulting magazine's annual "Top 25" most influential consultants.

    Central to the effort was a move by leaders of our Women's Initiative to take a close look at how we develop talent at BCG. Since apprenticeship is such a large part of our talent-development model for consultants -- our people learn by working on cases with and being guided by more experienced and seasoned BCG partners -- we partnered with leadership development firm BRANDspeak to examine how our apprenticeship culture and process was working for women.

    After engaging with hundreds of consultants in focus groups, one-on-one interviews, and surveys, the team uncovered what women (and men) really wanted from apprenticeship:

    • First, we found that while long-term relationships are important to both genders, women put significantly more value on them.

    • Second, our women sometimes felt that they were expected to adopt a more "male" communication style -- a highly assertive demeanor that some found inauthentic.

    • Finally, people viewed our performance-feedback process as overly focused on addressing weaknesses rather than building up strengths, something that BCG women often felt was a barrier to their development and advancement. It's worth noting that this last issue was found to be equally important to both women and men.


    To learn more about how we zeroed in on these three elements and how employees are embracing BCG's flexibility programs, read more at