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#OpenUpTheWorkforce with Marie Padberg, Partner & Global Talent Attraction Leader at McKinsey & Company

Published by Mitra LeBuhn on March 10, 2023
4 min read

Mitra LeBuhn

Mitra is the Head of Impact and Communications at Symba and leads social impact, PR, and marketing partnerships for the business. She combines a unique background in Global Health and Higher Education, and speaks French. Beyond Symba, Mitra spends her time outdoors, traveling the world and making music.

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Presented by Symba, #OpenUpTheWorkforce interviews feature executives advancing inclusion, diversity, and equity for the future of work. In these short audio-only episodes, we talk with the top about what it takes to develop and implement inclusive processes. 

In this episode of #OpenUpTheWorkforce, Marie Christine Padberg, Partner and Global Talent Attraction Leader at McKinsey & Company, discusses the importance of sponsors for women, how McKinsey ensures all employees have an equal share of voice, and that diversifying leadership is a matter of “math not magic.” Listen here.

Marie has been with McKinsey for almost 20 years, beginning as a consultant in the Munich office and then spent the larger part of her McKinsey career in the global talent attraction function. McKinsey supports flexible career paths, what they call a “self-authored journey.” Marie experienced this first hand, staying with the firm for the continuous opportunities for growth and development, and for the incredible, purpose-driven colleagues she works with.

McKinsey has invested in shining a light on the lack of diversity in the workforce and adding a financial lens. They were one of the first to prove that there is a financial benefit in having diverse leadership, demonstrated in their Women Matter research report, first launched in 2007. McKinsey has since expanded to build Diversity Matters and Women in the Workplace reports. Marie asserts that it is everybody’s responsibility at a company to become a diverse workplace where everybody can perform at their best and be their true authentic self.

Almost 50% of global hires at McKinsey are women!

Marie makes it clear that there is still a long way to go to diversify the workforce. She says, “...if you look around, you still don't have a very high number of diverse leaders in all kinds of different parts of society.” However, they are making progress at McKinsey – almost 50% of their global hires are women. In 2012, Marie founded the Next Generation Women Leaders (NGWL) program which has been instrumental in attracting women to the firm and advancing career growth for women outside of McKinsey. The goal was to expose smart and capable women to a cohort of like-minded people and role models to help them build a support network. Over the last 10 years, thousands of women have gone through the NGWL program, gleaning advice from others that are a step ahead in their careers and leaving empowered to pursue their aspirations. Marie expands on the importance of women empowerment:

“I think it's so true this notion of women are over mentored and under sponsored. Everybody needs sponsors, everybody needs help and support. There's no leader in this world, anywhere in any position, and I don't have research to back that but I'm very confident in that statement, who hasn't had help along the way.” 

- Marie Padberg

Inclusion and belonging

The conversation shifts to the topic of inclusion and belonging. Marie wisely states, “...diversity is great, but without inclusion, diversity falls short on its potential because only if everybody feels that they have a chair at the table and that their voices are equally heard, can we really truly leverage the benefits and the potential of diversity.” A crucial value at McKinsey is hierarchy-free problem solving discussions, what they call “obligation to dissent and engage.” To vitalize inclusion, belonging and sponsorship at McKinsey, they launch a yearly survey to all employees at the global firm asking who they are sponsoring and who mentors them. Then, each employee receives a report showing them how many people they are sponsoring and the diversity of that group, which encourages employees to expand their circle of influence.

Diversifying leadership: “It’s math not magic”
Marie speaks to the importance of having a diverse talent pipeline from the early careers level; “I always say on the diversity side, it's math, not magic…why would you have a very diverse group of leaders at the end if you don't have them at the beginning of your hiring funnel?” To get that funnel to flow, McKinsey leans on their internships and has implemented women-focused recruitment strategies and diversity programs. For example, their BUILD program, which hires exclusively from underserved local city and state universities. Marie shares, “that's something we're incredibly excited about because these are candidates that haven't had a lot of exposure to the consulting industry and might not know exactly yet whether this is the career that they want to pursue. And this is a great way to try it out.”

What do leaders need to do to #OpenUpTheWorkforce?

  1. Move away from pedigree and towards potential. Marie says, “It doesn't really matter where you've studied. It's only important who you are and what you can do, the skills you bring.” On par with that, McKinsey has proudly pledged to the Tear the Paper Ceiling campaign, an advocacy initiative supporting the millions of workers with in-demand skills and experience that have been overlooked for higher-wage jobs because they don’t have a bachelor’s degree.
  2. Use technology in a way that broadens access to people and training. Marie expands, “...given we can use technology, we can access everybody and we can tell everybody about opportunities that we have. And then technology is also about giving people equal access to information in terms of what you need to know to be prepared, to be ready for an assessment process.” Marie expands that some schools have this support in the form of consulting clubs or extremely involved career services, but not all provide the same quality of resources. Marie says that, “[At McKinsey] we are working on making sure we use and leverage technology to level the playing field and make sure everybody has access to the same set of information.” 

About Marie Christine Padberg

Marie is a Partner at McKinsey & Company, where she co-leads Global Talent Attraction for the firm.

After completing a number of internships, among which, Goldman Sachs Investment Banking (London), Goldman Sachs Private Banking (Zurich), Coty Inc (Paris), Marie joined McKinsey in 2003 as a consultant in the Munich office in Germany. There, she worked in a variety of industries such as banking, insurance and telecommunication. All projects had a focus on marketing and customer value creation. Since 2007 she is part of internal People Function with a focus on recruiting.

Marie holds a Bachelor Degree from University of Passau, a Master of Science from the ESCP Europe (Paris, Oxford, Berlin) as well as an MBA from INSEAD (Singapore, Fontainebleau). She lives in Amsterdam with her husband and her three children.




Are you an executive leader increasing access to jobs and wealth creation? Request to be featured and show us how you #OpenUpTheWorkforce.

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