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Vault’ s Careers Blog is Moving

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An announcement: after almost a year on WordPress, we’re discontinuing Vault’s Careers Blog on WordPress. But don’t worry: you’ll still be able to get your fill of career information and advice on Vault.com–where our blogs are going from strength to strength.

Our full blog lineup on Vault.com is as follows:

Vault’s Careers Blog
Vault’s Law Blog
Consult THIS: Consulting Careers, News and Views
In Good Company: Vault’s CSR blog
In the Black: Vault’s Finance Careers Blog
Admit One: Vault’s MBA, Law School and College Blog
Insider Career Advice from SixFigureStart
Innovate with Influence: Global High Tech

Thanks for reading us on WordPress.

We hope to see you over on Vault.com soon!

–The Vault Editorial Team

Where the Women Aren’t: The Banking C-Suite

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October is Carl Paladino National Diversity Month, so we decided to go back to the data we collected in our most recent Banking Survey and see if we couldn’t find a few fitting pieces to offer up in honor of these holy 31 days.

First, what we found, unsurprisingly, is a marked lack of women in the banking workplace. Somewhat surprising, though, was that this lack of women increases as you go up the banking org chart. That is, as you’ll see in the graphic below, of those bankers surveyed, 26 percent identified themselves as women. But of those surveyed who hold executive positions, only 11 percent identified themselves as women. The takeaway here is that females are still underrepresented at the top financial firms, and are severely underrepresented in the higher ranks at the top financial firms.

Vault.com 2010 banking diversity gender

Second we found (again unsurprisingly) that the ethnic group that accounts for most (almost three quarters) of the entire banking industry is none other than the white male. However, interestingly, we found that the white male is far better represented in the banking industry than it is in the general population—almost 10 percent greater as you can see in the graphic below. In addition, Asians, the second largest ethnic group in banking, are also far better represented in the industry than they are in the wider U.S. population—about three times greater, in fact. On the other side of this diversity story, Hispanic individuals and African-Americans are severely underrepresented in the banking industry versus their representation in the wider population.

 

Vault.com ethnic diversity of finance industry 2010

Third, we found a large lack of openly gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender individuals in banking. Given that banking is perhaps one of, if not the most politically conservative industries in the United States, this might not come as that much of a surprise, but still, you would think that the lack might not be as significant as the pie chart below indicates: just 1 percent of the more than 2,200 bankers surveyed had identified themselves as an openly GLBT individual. Which begs the question: are GLBT individuals not welcome into the banking industry, not interested in the industry, or both?

Vault.com 2010 banking diversity GLBT

–Posted by Derek Loosvelt, In The Black

The Vault IT Consulting 25 is Here!

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This year, we’ve taken our consulting rankings a step further. Instead of simply listing out the top firms based on perceived prestige in the industry, we’ve gone out and asked consultants what matters most to them in choosing an employer. What they told us was that prestige alone is not a determining factor. Rather, the single most important issue when choosing a consulting firm is company culture (43 percent claimed that culture was most important!), followed by practice strength (14 percent), prestige (11 percent) and compensation (6 percent), among a few other options. We’ve taken this feedback and created a new Vault IT Consulting 25, showcasing the firms that are best to work for. This ranking was compiled using a weighted formula that reflects the issues job seekers care most about. (See below).

Don’t worry, we’ll still be releasing the all-important prestige rankings (check in next Tuesday for the big reveal!), and they do play a big role in the overall Vault IT Consulting 25 rankings. After all, a prestigious firm name puts a sheen on any resume, in addition to affording consultants access to a high caliber of clients and projects. That said, we believe that quality of life issues are at the core of a company’s appeal to job seekers. Let’s face it: In this post-recession era of recovery and growth, it’s a job seeker’s market, and job seekers are looking for a workplace that offers both prestige and an appealing lifestyle. Here’s the formula we used to compile this year’s rankings:

• 25 percent firm culture

• 25 percent work/life balance

• 20 percent compensation

• 20 percent prestige

• 5 percent overall business outlook

• 5 percent transparency

The scores for the first five categories are derived directly from the survey results; all categories except prestige are based on a firm’s own consultants’ feedback about their quality of life, whereas the prestige ranking is based on the perception of outside consultants. (Respondents were not allowed to rank their own firm in the prestige category.) The “transparency” category awards a 5 percent bonus to firms that distributed the survey to their consultants. Firms that did not distribute the survey internally received no points in this category. It is our view that, with increasing expectations of transparency and a free market for information, a company’s willingness to encourage employees to share their experiences externally correlates with a work culture where open feedback and self-criticism are valued—attributes that thousands of job seekers tell us are top priorities in searching for a new employer.

Stay tuned next week for the long-awaited prestige rankings!

The 50 Most Prestigious Accounting Firms

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For nearly a decade, Vault has been ranking accounting firms in terms of prestige. This year, in our annual Accounting Survey, conducted from April through June, over 2,200 accounting professionals were asked to assess their peer firms on a scale of 1 to 10 based on prestige—they were unable to rate their own firm, and were asked to rate only firms with which they were familiar. And for the second straight year, industry insiders named PricewaterhouseCoopers the most prestigious accounting firm in North America. In fact, the top five spots were unchanged from last year’s rankings.

With a score of 8.408, PwC outdistanced fellow Big Four firms Ernst & Young (the No. 2 firm in prestige, with a score of 8.278), Deloitte (No. 3, 8.222) and KPMG (No. 4, 7.732). The highest ranking non-Big Four firm was again Grant Thornton, which took the No. 5 spot with a score of 6.817.

According to surveyed professionals outside PwC, the firm is the “best company of the Big Four in terms of benefits and employee morale.” It’s also “well respected,” has a “favorable public perception” and a “great culture,” and “offers many opportunities” for its staff.  Meanwhile, Ernst & Young, the No. 2 firm for the second year in a row, is said to be the “industry leader,” have “the best talent” and possess a “hardworking,” “intelligent,” “classy” staff.

The big mover this year among the top 10 was BDO Seidman (“a good mid-tier firm, growing in size and market share”), which leaped three spots from No. 9 to No. 6.  Further down the rankings, Clifton Gunderson (a “solid regional”) made a strong move, jumping seven places from No. 19 to No. 12; and Reznick Group (“the ‘fun accountants,’ as opposed to the stereotypical nerdy accountants”) climbed six places from No. 22 to No. 16.

Other significant climbs were made by Dixon Hughes (“big down South”), which rose four spots to No. 21; Novogradac (“a large competitor in the real estate auditing business”), which jumped four places to No. 25; and CBIZ & Mayer Hoffman (“a large, solid firm”), which moved up three spots to No. 23.

The biggest drop in the top 25 came from LarsonAllen (“good firm but lacks work/life balance”), which fell eight places to No. 22.  Other significant falls came from Amper Politziner & Mattia (“a strong competitor” with a “poor working environment”), which slid seven spots to No. 20; and Cherry Bekaert & Holland (“known in the Southeast, yet not considered a competitive firm”), which fell four places to No. 19.

Check out the complete 2011 Vault Accounting Prestige Rankings.

–Posted by Derek Loosvelt, In the Black

The Top 50 Most Prestigious Consulting Firms

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As I explained last week, our primary consulting ranking this year is a composite score that takes into account both quality of life rankings (as determined by a firm’s own consultants’ votes) and prestige rankings (or, outsiders’ rankings of consulting firms other than their own). Both sides of the equation are critical to choosing an ideal employer. But when selecting an employer, a good first impression of the company is to gauge how outsiders view its reputation in the industry. This is why the Vault prestige ranking is such an integral tool for job seekers.

The 89 firms included in this year’s Vault Consulting Survey were asked to rate each consulting firm in the survey on a scale from 1 to 10 based on prestige, with 10 being the most prestigious. Consultants were unable to rate their own firm, and they were asked to rate only those firms with which they were familiar. Vault collected the survey results and averaged the score for each firm. The firms were then ranked, with the highest score being No. 1, down to No. 50. Remember that Vault’s top-50 prestigious consulting firms are chosen by practicing consultants at top consulting firms. Vault does not choose or influence these rankings. The rankings measure perceived prestige (as determined by consulting professionals) and not revenue, size or lifestyle.

This year’s prestige ranking shows a startlingly low rate of movement from last year. The top-10 firms are entirely the same, with some slight adjustments in positioning: HR consulting firm Mercer LLC moved up two spots, while both Monitor Group and PwC moved down one notch. Firms that made some of the larger jumps in the rankings (A.T. Kearney, ZS Associates, Diamond Management & Tech Consultants) suggest that the factors that improved firms’ perception in the industry are stability in the face of recession and targeted industry focus. Strategic IT consulting is on the rise as companies seek to streamline their processes and cut down on back-office costs, and health care consulting will continue to play an integral role as the new legislation continues to unfold.

We’ve also added some new firms into the mix this year. Grant Thornton (No. 28) is a large, well-known accounting/consulting shop, while The Cambridge Group (No. 35) has made a name for itself in the growth strategy space, focusing on customer demand. We also dug deeper into some of the hot industries right now, adding a few more health care consulting shops (The Hackett Group, Campbell Alliance Group and The Chartis Group), and a couple from the increasingly-in-demand turnaround management realm (see: CRG Partners Group).

All in all, our prestige list provides a comprehensive roadmap of who’s who in the consulting industry—ranging from big consulting shops to smaller, niche firms, and spanning a vast swath of industries. Stay tuned next Tuesday for our release of specific practice area rankings.

–Posted by Naomi Newman, Consult THIS

The Week’s Best Hiring News: Week of July 19, 2010

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In case it escaped your attention, we’re smack in the middle of the reporting season for the second quarter of the year. Which means that, in addition to the deluge of corporate reports that send the market swaying back and forth, we’ve also had a smattering of opinion from economists on the state of the job market.

cupcakesTheir staggering conclusion: that the second quarter was lousy, but the hiring outlook is moderately better for the rest of the year. That reasoning comes from the fact that fewer employers have indicated they’re planning to cut jobs, while there’s been an increase in the number planning to expand headcount in the coming months.

Many of the following stories are examples of companies that have evidently decided to make the conversion from saying they’ll hire to actively seeking employees. And one is about how cupcakes are saving the New York economy. No, really. Read on to find out more.

  • Finance: It’s been the only industry bringing employees on board for quite some time, and it doesn’t seem like it’s in any mood for slowing down. Both Jefferies and Bank of America Merrill Lynch have been adding to the hiring momentum on Wall Street.
  • No such luck in the legal industry, however: the Wall Street Journal‘s law blog points out that summer intake dropped by an average of 44 percent this year. (That makes insider information on the firms all the more valuable for anyone interested in a career in the field. What better place to start—shameless plug alert!—than the Vault Law 100, which was released earlier this week?)
  • Ah, the vagaries of the recession. Logistics technology outfit Manhattan Associates laid off 140 people last year. Then they hired 50. Now, the company is hiring 100 more employees, “mostly technology associates in Atlanta.” Kind of makes one wonder they didn’t just hire 10 people during the recession, really…
  • Still on the tech front, Samsung is seeking around 500 technicians for a semiconductor plant in Northeast Austin.
  • It’s not all good news on the tech front, however: Applied Materials announced between 400 and 500 layoffs this week. The cuts will affect its energy and environmental division, according to BusinessWeek, “with the goal of making it profitable by next year.”
  • Guess what’s driving a resurgence of hiring in New York? Okay, okay, the financial industry, but we did that above. But how many of you said “cupcakes”? The trend for high end sweet delights “has now become a legitimate driver of the city’s economy,” according to The Daily Caller.
  • Not had your fill of weird miscellany yet? Try this for size: the oil spill is helping to reduce the unemployment rate. No word, however, on whether it’s because BP is hiring every able body it can to help with the cleanup, or just that people have really given up hope. (We suspect the former, however.)
  • Not related to the spill (we think) is the news that New Bern, NC-based Hatteras Yachts is adding 350 jobs. Assuming that the company is ramping up hiring due to increased demand, that has to be a positive sign for the economy—there are very few purchases that say “rude financial health” quite like a new yacht, after all.
  • Before we get too carried away, however, the biggest story of the week for those in the process of finding a job may well be this one: the reinstatement of long-term unemployment benefits. Among other things, the story has been a solemn reminder of the oft-quoted statistic that there is only one open job for every five active seekers in the economy right now.

Bullies, Bias and Other Barriers to Equality: Women Partners Confront Law Firm Reality

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Last week, the Project for Attorney Retention (PAR) and the Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA) released a report regarding the gender gap in compensation among law firm partners, “New Millennium, Same Glass Ceiling?“. The study has generated some buzz, both within and beyond the legal community (e.g., The Careerist: “Show Me the Money—Not Work/Life Balance,” and Newsweek: “Even Female Law Partners Suffer Wage Disparities“), though it seems that at least some of the surprised reactions are triggered less by findings that systemic problems in law firm compensation practices “open the door to gender bias” than by the discovery that women are really angry about it.

PAR and MCCA surveyed nearly 700 women partners who voiced “intense dissatisfaction” with disparities in pay and power. Because women, and especially minority women, are underrepresented at the upper levels of the law firm hierarchy,* they have limited means to address these issues. As noted by Veta Richardson, MCCA’s executive director and co-author of the report: “With few women on compensation committees and in top management positions, women law firm partners’ ability to influence compensation decisions and address salary differentials is limited.”

While some of the problems discussed are structural (e.g., questions as to whether the right factors are used to determine compensation), others are behavioral. According to the report, “Roughly one-third of the women surveyed reported having been bullied, threatened or intimidated out of origination credit, a key factor in setting compensation.” Moreover, a majority of the minority partners surveyed said “that they had participated in client pitches that yielded work for their firms—but that they were excluded when the time came to do the work.”

The study’s findings undercut the common arguments that women are paid less because they work less, generate less business or focus more on family. Fortunately, the report also outlines a series of best practices to help firms establish fairer compensation systems—systems that, the authors conclude, will better serve the long-term interests of law firms in the 21st century—including ways to improve transparency, redesign origination credit and introduce “checks on bias and in-group favoritism.”

MCCA, PAR and the ABA Commission on Women are also compiling a companion report titled “Sustaining Pathways to Diversity—A Survey of Women Partners on Law Firm Compensation and Recommended Approaches for a More Equitable Playing Field,” which is expected to be released later this summer.

— Posted by Vera Djordjevich, Vault’s Law Blog

Follow Vault’s Law team on Twitter: @vaultlaw

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*According to data collected by Vault and MCCA in our annual Law Firm Diversity Survey, more than three-quarters of law firm equity partners are white men. Women represent less than 16 percent of the attorneys on firms’ executive committees; and, if you count only minority women, that number drops to less than 2 percent. (These numbers are based on last year’s diversity survey results; this year’s results will be released in a few weeks.)