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Homophobia in Consultancy firms

#1 Homophobia in Consultancy firms
04/06/2006 18:22


I'm worried about joining a Consulting firm because I am gay. How might it affect me?

Is consulting a homophobic environment?

Can gay consulants be open about their sexuality?

Are things different between the big4 and smaller firms?

Which firms are better / worse?

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#2 Re: Homophobia in Consultancy firms
05/06/2006 02:03


No worse in consulting than other professional services I'd say. Probably a better environment if anything as culture is more meritocratic than e.g. public accounting

Vault publish a specific survey on this, and I think there are other specific rankings of companies on the net, although probably quite US-focussed they'd be a good start.

My thoughts:

* Some types of consulting are going to be better/worse than others because of the types of people they attract and sub-cultures of consulting that exist. This will be a bigger factor than the firm's culture within that sub-sector.

* Big4 have more policies and procedures and more diversity training, so even if things go wrong you'll have some recourse to get things sorted out. However they are more conservative to start with. Small firms will be more of a gamble. Some small firms get started by people who want to break with the conservatism of older firms (so will be more open-minded). Some get started by people who got chucked out of the big firms for abusing their staff (so are going to be a nightmare). Do you due diligence on the specific firm's background if you're going for smaller ones.

* In some consulting roles you'll be spending a lot of time on assignment in hotels for long periods ans working very closely with your colleagues. Therefore you have to make a judgement call about whether you're going to be open about your sexuality with those individuals, or whether that could make for a very uncomfortable next 3 months for both of you.

* Mostly, noone gives a hoot about your sexuality as long as you're not asking them to cover for you having an affair.

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#3 Re: Homophobia in Consultancy firms
05/06/2006 07:21


Can we please be dignified and respectful in this thread? The danger is that some smart ass will use the anonymity afforded by this board to air their own anti-gay prejudices.

Please prove me wrong people !!!!

For what it’s worth, IBM (who have a poor people reputation in other respects) are very strong in promoting Lesbian, Gay, and Transgender Issues. Good for them !

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#4 Re: Homophobia in Consultancy firms
05/06/2006 12:44


I can only speak as an observer, but in my experience with a number of firms, I've never encountered overt homophobia. I think consulting is reasonably forward-thinking as an industry and places an emphasis on skills.

In consulting, billable hours and fee rates are king. If you stay utilised, no one will care if you fancy goats!

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#5 Re: Homophobia in Consultancy firms
05/06/2006 21:11


Just a thought, but people at work know very little about my private life. I'm not gay in fact but they wouldn't know if I was. Perhaps it would be the same for you. I'm not saying being gay is something to hide, but I haven't really got anything to hide either.

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#6 Re: Homophobia in Consultancy firms
07/06/2006 13:49


There are European countries where it would be considered a little far-fetched and not exactly politically correct to draw parallels between homosexuality and fancying goats, Someone. Heteronormative, I think the word is...

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#7 Re: Homophobia in Consultancy firms
07/06/2006 16:42


Well, you could have a whole debate about that, although I don't think it was the intention to draw any parallel. Some people do like goats. I grant that this is usually less common and in many European countries less well thought-of and less legal.

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#8 Re: Homophobia in Consultancy firms
08/06/2006 15:49


Homophobia in consultancies- I'm not gay, but my boss is and watching his experience I'd say not overtly. I think in some firms there is a more subtle culture of 'you make me uncomfortable and therefore I'm unwilling to use you on my jobs'.

As for not sharing personal information- lots of us want to be open and straight up with our colleagues and say "this weekend Fred and I went to ...." rather than sidestepping innocent queries about 'what did you get up to over the weekend' to avoid disclosing our partner's gender

Incidentally, I worked with a guy who reckoned he was professional and compatmentilised things- actually we all started avoiding talking to him as an innocent query of 'hi how was your weekend?' in an airport lounge at 6 am on a Monday morning was met with 'fine, thankyou' followed by determined silence... kind of difficult to do much more than say 'jolly good' and go and talk to someone else

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#9 RE: Homophobia in Consultancy firms
05/07/2006 20:45

kok to Beth (#8)

I think there is a clear difference between gays who just behave professionally at work and gays who deliberately expose their sexual orientation by bringing up uncomfortable questions/topics for discussion related to things like discrimination against gays in the society etc. Same goes for females and ethnic minorities, btw.

I would have absolutely no problem working with a gay colleague from first group, but not from the second one.

But this is just my opinion, so dont take it too seriously.

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#10 RE: Homophobia in Consultancy firms
05/07/2006 21:39

Matt Morgan to Anon (#1)

So, you're gay. And? I cook potatoes for dinner.

In my experience, professionals are professionals. They don't advertise their sexuality, wealth, backgrounds, education, etc. Consultants, however, are not always so, and seem to value these things.

Why would your sexuality matter any more if you were heterosexual? You needn't advertise it. Unless you want to; then that's a different issue altogether.

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#11 RE: Homophobia in Consultancy firms
06/07/2006 10:59

anon to Matt Morgan (#10)

I have no problem working with any gay person in my consulting firm.

Just don't expect me to attend any of your private functions or to engage in discussions with you about your private life/relationship even though I would attend a heterosexual colleague's function and discuss about their relationship. No apologises!!!

I will give a gay person an objective appraisal if it is my responsibility except the gay person is the type to force their opinions on others.

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#12 RE: Homophobia in Consultancy firms
09/07/2006 18:48

nt to Anon (#1)

You might like reading "The G-Quotient: How Gay Men Are Changing the Face of Leadership" by Kirk Snyder

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#13 RE: Homophobia in Consultancy firms
10/07/2006 14:14

GAbs to nt (#12)

How are the going to find out? Unless you have a "gay" tattoo on your forehead and wear makeup to work you are just hidding something to your work colleges. BIG DEAL. We all do. From sleeping with the secretary to cocaine addiction. Welcome to the club

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#14 RE: Homophobia in Consultancy firms
10/07/2006 14:40

anon to GAbs (#13)

But what if you're sleeping with your gay secretary and snorting coke? How does that stand up in the grand pecking order?

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#15 RE: Homophobia in Consultancy firms
10/07/2006 15:19

GAbs to anon (#14)

How good looking is the secretary and how much Charlie are we talking about? Are you sleeping with JUST her OR DOES her girlfriend tag along?. Looks like there is GSOH in consultancy after all.

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#16 RE: Homophobia in Consultancy firms
10/07/2006 18:52

Anon to GAbs (#15)

I think we are straying off the point (!)

The issue I was trying to raise in this post wasn't an attitude about being gay, or about being "out and proud" in the office (my tatoo is hidden by my shirt, anyway).

Rather I was concerned that, as some contributors have noted, when travelling / staying away from home with colleagues the conversation naturally strays into one's home life "had a good weekend" etc.

Believe me it is difficult enough in a 9-5 job swapping pronouns, never mind if you are in an airport lounge at 7am on a Monday morning.

The conclusion I am drawing from this post is that provided I bring in the fees, and good at my job and am relatively conversative about how I describe my home life then a life as a consultant shouldn't pose too many problems.

The PwC Blog even has an entry from a bloke who is an openly gay partner ...

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#17 RE: Homophobia in Consultancy firms
27/09/2006 19:21

RG to Anon (#16)

This thread has to be a joke right? If you're gay you're gay, deal with it. No one you work with will care. Its not like you share rooms with your work mates when you travel. Jesus.

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#18 RE: Homophobia in Consultancy firms
28/09/2006 14:20

Johnny Be Good to Anon (#1)

No just homophobia but any form of discrimination - my own experience (as a racial minority) is that it depends on the industry and the client. As a consultant I dont spend more than 20 days/yr in my office and the culture is quite respectful of people's choice and differences. I cant choose my clients personally, so have to accept the working environment on a client site - facilities, values, attitudes, In my case as an Asian the difference is obvious as opposed to sexual or religious preferences - I have never experienced overt discrimination though have suspected covert discrimination at times. I just take it with a pinch of salt and go down the pub for a pint after working late and hard!!

Johnny cant be good.

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