Research Summary

An outside-inside evolution in gender and work in a professional services firm

by Kathleen L. McGinn


With Deborah Kolb & Lakshmi Ramajaran

We study the processes by which a professional services firm reshaped its activities and beliefs over nearly two decades as it adapted to changes in the gender composition of its workforce and shifts in the social narrative regarding gender. Internal archival data and external representations of gender from the business press over two decades reveal that the firm internalized the broader social narrative through alternating phases of analysis and action punctuated by evolving beliefs about gender and work. We offer an internalization model of organizational adaptation to shifting social narratives.