The Wright Company Blog

Amanda's musings on entrepreneurship, money mindset, and being a woman in management consulting.

Women in Consulting & Sexual Harassment

I had been hoping that progress made since the #MeToo movement, plus the fact that I'm now in my 40's, would mean I wouldn't have to face ongoing issues with sexual harassment as a woman in consulting. Unfortunately, it seems there are still men out there for whom the message has not yet sunk in.

It can be bad enough to experience sexual harassment as an employee, but the issues are compounded when you're self-employed. There is no Human Resources department to assist you and no one to protect you if a client is misbehaving. Clients will generally protect their own employees rather than protect their consultants.

I've had several bad experiences with male clients, and the sad thing is that it's always been me who paid the price. I'm the one who had to make a decision to leave a project because I no longer wanted to work with the person who had harassed me.

In the most recent instance (pre-COVID days), the offender was the founder of the company. Initially he was charming, showed an...

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Am I supposed to be GRATEFUL for a 2% raise?

At my very last performance review at Deloitte, I received a 2% raise and a bonus of maaaaybe $1,200.

This was after putting in an incredible amount of extra hours on a high-pressure, high-consequence client engagement where the client had paid Deloitte several hundred thousand dollars in fees for my work, but in turn I was being paid $70,000 a year.

My salary was technically $100,000 but with two kids under 6, I was on an alternative work arrangement where I was supposed to work 0.7 FTE in exchange for 70% of my salary. You can imagine that how well that worked out.

When I expressed disappointment, the partner told me "You should be happy with 2%, because many people got 0% this year".

This was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. FUCK THIS was the overwhelming feeling.

I gave my notice not long afterwards, and started my own consulting business. It was the BEST THING I've ever done for myself.

No more last minute requests for decks from the partner on a Friday afternoon for...

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Have you done the math? Comparing a consulting salary to independent consulting earnings

It still shocks me that I didn't run these numbers until *after* I had quit my consulting job and decided to start my own business. And I'm a finance nerd who loves nothing more than a good Excel model!

Your earnings will obviously depend on many factors. But this simplified illustration is like a punch in the face that wakes you up to the reality that you can earn a lot more working for yourself than for a professional services firm.

The specific rate that you can command will depend on your market, your experience, your unique skills, and the value clients place on your services. It will also depend on whether you plan to work with clients in the private, public, or not-for-profit sectors.

$100-$200 might be realistic when you're starting out, or if you offer services that are relatively common in your market. If you're coming out of a Big 4 firm you may be able to leverage that brand recognition to aim higher.

You can charge higher rates ($200-$300+) if you offer strategic advice...

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What's holding you back from taking the leap?

I totally get it - making the decision to quit a job with a professional services firm to go out on your own can feel risky and overwhelming. This is especially true if you don't have anyone to guide you through the journey and offer support at each step.

When I quit my job six years ago to start my own consulting company, I had probably five main fears:

  1. I'm not old enough to be a successful independent consultant
  2. No one will hire me because I'm not an expert in anything
  3. I'm no good at sales, so I can't possibly sell high-value engagements
  4. I have no idea how to replace the benefits and pension I earned from my previous employer
  5. I'm going to have to work alone and I'll have to do everything myself

I think this generally boiled down to a fear of failure. As a classic overachieving perfectionist, I was really scared to make this big ambitious career move only to bomb spectacularly.

Luckily, it became obvious pretty quickly that these fears were unfounded.

  • Clients didn't care how old...
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Quitting a six-figure job with a consulting firm to start my own business was scary AF... but totally worth it

I have been working as a management consultant for 15 years, and I love what I do. Working with clients to solve complex problems and deliver high-quality work still gets me excited.

I spent several years at the beginning of my career working for one of the Big 4 global professional services firms.

At first, I loved it – I had brilliant colleagues around me, I was making a good salary, and was traveling around North America for interesting projects.

BUT, after having my two kids, I started to see that big consulting firms don’t always do the best job of setting young moms up for success.

While my company was actually very supportive of me, and allowed me to do an alternative work arrangement, I was really struggling.

I was supposed to work 70% of full time for 70% of my salary, but I was on a high-pressure client project, and ended up working way more than full time hours for $70,000 a year.

I had little control over my schedule, and I was incredibly stressed trying to...

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