Gender and war for talent in management consulting: A study on McKinsey's approach

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School of Business | Master's thesis
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MSc program in Management and International Business
MSc program in Management and International Business
Degree programme
The purpose of this study is divided in two parts. The primary purpose is to gain a better understanding on how one of the leading management consulting companies in the world, McKinsey & Company, approaches issues regarding gender and diversity; how McKinsey justifies the importance of gender and diversity matters and how they are taken into account in the company's business. On the other hand, the secondary purpose of this study is to analyze how the concept of war for talent relates to gender matters at McKinsey; what the role of war for talent is in McKinsey's gender approach. The literature review discusses earlier research in four fundamentals areas of this study: the war for talent, diversity and diversity management, gender and management consulting. The first part of the literature review focuses on war for talent, defining it, describing the forces driving it and then showing how the companies can respond to it. The second part of the literature review is about diversity and diversity management, defining diversity, showing its importance for companies and introducing two approaches to diversity; the business case approach and the moral case approach. The third chapter first defines gender and proceeds to justify the importance of gender matters. Then it moves on to show how gender discrimination is fought in organizations. The last and fourth part of the literature review is about management consulting. Management consulting is defined and overviews on its history and current state are provided. In addition, professional service firms and their distinctive characteristics are described. The empirical research of this study is conducted as a theoretical thematic analysis. The research is based on public materials of McKinsey & Company, which focus on gender and diversity matters. The data includes reports, blog texts, contents of the website and other publications, and it is gathered from McKinsey's official website. First, the data is analyzed using thematic analysis as a research method. Based on this, I describe how McKinsey justifies the importance of gender and diversity matters and show how McKinsey takes gender and diversity matters into account in its business. I then show how war for talent relates to gender and diversity issues in the research data. At the end, I compare my findings with literature, which is reviewed in chapter 2, in order to show how McKinsey's approach to gender and diversity aligns with the literature. The study implies that McKinsey & Company is well aware of different types of matters regarding gender and diversity, and that McKinsey supports gender and diversity throughout its organization in various different ways. The moral case approach on diversity is recognized, but it is not in a big role in the data. Instead, the business case approach is constantly present in the data and in most cases the importance of gender and diversity in organizations is justified by different business benefits, which gender and diversity can bring into organizations. The war for talent is one of the three themes emerging from the data, and it is strongly linked to McKinsey's approach on gender and diversity issues.
gender, diversity, management consulting, war for talent
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