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In 2005 seven partners and senior staffers at Deloitte (including the male coauthor of this article) prepared for a meeting with a prospective client, a large hospital undergoing an exciting transformation. Aware that a multimillion-dollar piece of business would be won or lost on the basis of their pitch, the key presenters pored over their slide deck, crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s. They reviewed everything they knew about the hospital and rehearsed their case for why Deloitte was the ideal choice. Their proposal would emphasise Deloitte’s view of projects as collaborations; the team would walk in the client’s shoes.
During the meeting, the partners covered all their talking points. They came away certain that they had addressed every concern outlined in the client’s request for proposal and hopeful that Deloitte would win the project. But they also felt that something had seemed off during the presentation. The consultants and client representatives never quite got on the same wavelength. What could explain the lack of rapport in the room? One aspect of this high-stakes meeting was different from the partners’ usual experience: Half the client attendees were women. The consultants had known this would be the case ahead of time, but it hadn’t occurred to them to alter their pitch in any way because of that. In the end, the hospital did not choose Deloitte for the job.
This Harvard Business Review piece provides a good overview of female decision making tendencies.