What Role Does Ethnicity Play in Notions and Practices For Consultants and Consulting : Exploring EthnicDiversity in the Swedish Management ConsultingIndustry
Abstract: Diversity comes in many shapes and forms as it can also refer to gender, culture, ethnicity, sexuality and religion amongst other forms. All of these forms of diversity do not seem to be part of the discussion when speaking about corporate diversity. A large portion of the management consultants proceed to become highly influential people in the corporate world as they often end up in leadership positions in large corporations. Therefore, it becomes of high interest to examine how different forms of diversity can be improved and what that would imply for the companies and nation as a whole. The basis for the results of this study is a literature review of theories about ethnic diversity in combination with gender theories as they both are relevant in the discussion of minorities. Moreover, 12 management consultants based in Stockholm, Sweden were interviewed by the authors of this study. The results showed that recruitment processes in consulting firms clearly aim to be as standardized and immune to bias as possible. However it seems unavoidable for these processes to escape the implications of targeting certain profiles and traits in a candidate. Relationship-building with clients and engaging in internal activities are assessment areas that favor certain types of people in the promotion processes. Similarly, the implications of targeting certain schools/programs also favor people with a certain background. Having these expectations on the candidates leads to the candidates reconstructing their persona into having these favorable traits that can be seen as typical swedish traits. The overall culture at the various consulting firms seem to be different depending on their size but they all act in a fairly similar way regardless of their size. Employees with migrant backgrounds do not seem to fit into the culture of their respective company even though they stated that their corporate culture is great in many ways . Moreover, even though the culture seems to be open and inclusive it requires the employee to have certain interest and personality traits for them to fully fit in. There seems to be a lack of ethnic representation within the management consulting industry. The reasons for this are many according to our interviewees. However, a theme that was recurring and seems to be one of the more important factors is that the pressure to become more diverse is governed by the society (external) and the employees (internal) at the various firms. Since there is a lack of representation, there is no internal pressure at these firms. Furthermore, there does not seem to be any external pressure for ethnic diversity. The reasons for the lack of ethnic diversity is mainly pointed to external factors (e.g.inherited problem, limited diversity in the talent pool etc.) within these interviews. However, given the answers surrounding the culture at the various firms, the current culture does not seem to be inclusive to people who do not fit into the norm of amanagement consultant.
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