For the past three years, The Boston Consulting Group has been in the top five of Fortune's "100 Best Companies to Work For," ranking No. 4 in 2013.
For Lucy Brady, a partner and managing director in the company's Chicago office, that ranking comes down to the company's razor-sharp focus on a positive culture and the development of the firm's most important asset: its employees.
"There's just a true sense of partnership that permeates the whole place. It's about the team, and 'We succeed together,' " she says. "It just feels like a very supportive place to work. It's not perfect, but I think everybody understands that if something is not going well, they can raise their hands."
Brady felt that supportive culture herself when, as the mother of three young children, she had the chance to work part-time for 10 of the 15 years she has been with the consultancy. In fact, she was named partner while working part time.
"Roughly 20 percent of our partners in Chicago are women, and all of us worked part time at some point in our career," says Brady, who also heads North American recruiting for Boston Consulting. "We just believe our ability to be successful is contingent on our ability to have a diverse, talented workforce."
In addition to its focus on diversity and workplace flexibility, Boston Consulting has a variety of benefit options that stand out. The firm pays 100 percent of employee health care premiums, offers paid sabbaticals and allows new consultants to delay their start date by six months and receive $10,000 to volunteer at a nonprofit.
Emphasizing work-life balance, the company issues "red zone" reports to flag employees who've put in too many long hours on a project.
Brady says the red zone system functions as a "pulse check" to see if the employee is simply working too hard and needs help, or if there's a problem with the scope or management of the work. In the consulting business, notorious for its travel demands and long hours, Boston Consulting wanted to keep a close eye on employee engagement so workers don't burn out, Brady says.
The company's recruiting efforts also are key, she adds, because attracting top talent from a variety of fields—not just business schools—is critical to the firm's success. With recruits, the emphasis is on how Boston Consulting will help craft their career to meet personal and life goals, and how mentorship and coaching will be a driving force in their daily work lives.
Brady says the firm gets tens of thousands of résumés every year in North America alone. "But the top candidates are incredibly sought after, and it's a hard-fought battle," she says. "What we hear consistently from people weighing multiple offers is that the thing that sealed the deal was we seemed to understand them, and that we will look out for them when they join."
Meg McSherry Breslin is a writer based in the Chicago area. Comment below or email firstname.lastname@example.org.