HR & Management

A.T. Kearney: Creating value for clients through diversity

7 min read

26 May 2016

With over a third of all employees at A.T. Kearney being women, the company's diversity and inclusion values inform its global policies, employee governance and sets its consultants apart from the pack .

In the run up to our annual First Women Awards, we’re once again opening up the vote for Business of the Year to the readership. The 2016 shortlist consists of five companies – A.T. Kearney, Dell, Sodexo, Sky and Sodexo – which have been put under the microscope to unveil how each went beyond statutory requirements to develop a female workforce.

To make the ultimate decision easier, Real Business interviewed a senior decision maker at each company.

Staying true to the words of founder Tom Kearney’s who said that ‘the strength of the firm, as in any organisation, lies in the fact that we are all different’, diversity has remained a cornerstone of A.T. Kearney’s culture.

In 2013 managing partner Johan Aurik shared the company’s 2020 vision, in which he outlined A.T. Kearney’s strategy and goals for diversity and inclusion, including achieving a 50/50 gender balance for new hires at junior levels by 2018. With offices in 40 countries around the globe, understanding and catering to the varied needs of a diverse workforce is paramount to ensure that it serves its clients in the best way.

Read our other four Business of the Year profiles:

In order to achieve its targets, the organisation has identified and implemented a variety schemes. Among its programmes are flexible working initiatives WorkSmart, which entails the effective use of technology, remote working arrangements and alternate travel schedules and Success with Flex, an arrangement that facilitates various working schedules such as part-time options, working from home and job-sharing. Under this umbrella is also Pathway for Parents, which offers a six-month rotation in a family-friendly role, amongst other benefits.

Have a look at the full First Women Awards 2016 shortlist

A.T. Kearney’s global director of diversity and inclusion, Beth Sehgal, says: “A.T. Kearney evolves with the changing needs of our people. We encourage flexibility, including part-time work, hybrid roles, reduced hours, secondments, and new positions and career paths to help our consultants achieve their aspirations.”

In addition to the programmes to make working life easier, the organisation sponsors a range of diversity networks at a global and local level, and works with with its leaders and all consultants to raise diversity awareness within A.T. Kearney.

Take its Women’s Network, for example. It is one of the longest-standing in the firm and is active in recruiting, advancing, and supporting women, according to Sehgal. The network also functions to support career development, progression, performance success and help improve work-life balance for women.

Read on to find out how A.T. Kearney is developing future female leaders with its sponsorship programme.


Specifically, its sponsorship initiative connects female future leaders and strong contributors with senior sponsors within the firm. Under its 2020 vision for sponsorship, A.T. Kearney plans to broaden the programme to include more employees that would benefit from the scheme.

Sehgal explains: “This initiative allows the company to reach out to our female employees to ensure that they have the support they need to be successful. The sponsors helps these women think through their career paths and serve as advocates for their interests, supporting their advancement and development within the firm. This programme has no overlap with any other role, it is a relationship based on trust.”

The company has found that workers involved in the sponsorship programme have higher advancement and retention rates and, according to Sehgal, 40 per cent of the women partners at A.T. Kearney are now in leadership roles. Building on this success, the organisation recently launched Encore, an initiative aimed at helping talented, experienced women professionals re-enter the workforce after an extended career break.

“The is the first programme of its kind in the strategy consulting industry,” Sehgal says. “Encore identifies experiences women professionals and helps to facilitate and fast track their career development.”

Over the next few years, all of this effort will help to incite change and ensure that A.T. Kearney’s D&I goals are in alignment with its operational direction.

“Even with decisive leadership and the right programmes, meaningful change will only come if we shift day-to-day behaviours across the firm and across the industry,” Sehgal explains. “It’s about considering those actions, big and small, that each of us take every day that nurture inclusiveness and equality—or thwart it. It’s an all-fronts battle that we need to keep at the top of the agenda and be mindful of in all that we do.”

In addition to giving employees a platform to come together to discuss, innovate, and co-create with the organisation, ultimately, the internal programmes are there to foster life-long learning as well as professional and personal fulfilment that will lead to long term success.

Sehgal concludes: “We continuously strive to create an environment where everyone feels comfortable, does not encounter prejudice or discrimination and receives equal opportunities to contribute, develop, and succeed irrespective of race, sexual orientation, or gender identity and expression. It is how we add value to our clients, our people and our organisation as a whole.”