Deloitte & Touche: a Hole in the Pipeline

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Deloitte & Touche: A hole in the pipeline
The main problem at Deloitte & Touche in January 1991 was to retain talented woman in the company. Hiring and retaining the same percentage of man and women has always been a strategic priority for the company. In Deloitte & Touche were hired the best students, naturally half men and half women, soon after their graduation (in audit and tax services business) or after an MBA program (in the consulting business); they were trained and given a mentor. The new employees began as staff accountants, then they could become semi-senior, manager or senior manager and finally, after 10 to 12 years senior managers could obtain the major promotion: to become a partner of Deloitte & Touche owning a certain amount of shares of the company. And it was by looking at the statistics of the future candidates for partnership that Mike Cook, D&T chairman and CEO, understood to have a problem: only 10% of candidates for partnership in 1992 were woman, and the same was for 1993. Thus, in January 1992, Deloitte’s board set up a “Task Force non the Retention and Advancement of Women” in the company with the aim of understanding the reason of that increasing trend of almost all women within the company. The task force consisted of 19 members, most of them partners, representatives of each division and with different social backgrounds; there were women and men, younger and older, single and married from different offices across the US. Trying to learn the reason of the higher fluctuation rates of women, the task force hired Catalyst, a non-profit research organization and they interviewed anonymously women who had left the company in the previous years. The findings of this research were quite different than Cook’s previous expectation. He thought that the reason of women’s higher turnover was their the third choice, one more than men had: they could also stay at home and raise a family in addition to work in Deloitte and work in another company. These expectations, though, were totally wrong. According to Catalyst’s survey, over 70% of the interviewed women were still working full-time and about 20% were working part-time in other companies. The remaining 10% were at home with small children and their purpose was to return to full-time work in the future. Women just didn’t want to work for Deloitte & Touche. In Catalyst’s 500-pages report there were three main reasons explaining the situation. First of all, women considered Deloitte organizational culture totally male-dominated. They believed that everything within the company was run in the way men do things and felt less worthy and valued, as they couldn’t make a contribution with their work. Secondly, women didn’t see the opportunities for career advancement. The mentoring-coaching-counseling-networking-system didn’t work for women, because they were not being mentored, they didn’t get an equity amount of assignment and they weren’t included in informal networks. So women felt they were alone and they couldn’t go through all these difficulties and moved on. The third issue in order of importance that Catalyst identified was as they called it: “the work/life balance”, that stands for the big amount of work and the wearing work schedule, but women saw it as “the stroke that breaks the camel’s back”, as they would not had problem to work hard if the environment had been comfortable. The task force’s suggestion was a three years long plan to try to change the culture within the organization. In order to realize that, they wanted to appoint a National Partner for Women’s Issues and a Women’s Advisory Council to establish a leadership platform. Their main objective was to promote the idea of men and woman working as colleagues. Unfortunately, I think that to make people change thinking the way the do awareness workshops are not enough. Of course, it is necessary to begin somewhere, but people within the company, not just the top management, need to...
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