The top consulting firms to work for in North America

06 December 2018 6 min. read
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Move over, Facebook. Big Three strategy consultancy Bain & Company has reclaimed the number one spot on the annual rankings of large employers in the US by employee review and job site Glassdoor. Meanwhile, consulting firms BCG, Slalom, McKinsey, Crowe, Deloitte, Accenture, and EY also made the list of US’ top 100 companies to work for. In Canada – in a smaller pool of 25 top companies – PwC was the sole consultancy to make the grade. 

Boston-based Bain & Company has ranked number 1 on the Glassdoor Best Places to Work list four times (2012, 2014, 2017, 2019), and has placed on the employee-chosen ranking for 11 consecutive years. Winners are determined by employee feedback – fed through Glassdoor’s proprietary algorithm that sets rankings based on quantity, quality, and consistency of reviews.

Bain employees – known as ‘Bainies’ – gush about the company’s supportive environment, opportunities to grow and learn, excellent perks (like externships and events) and benefits. The company’s cons – which are universal throughout high-powered consultancies – are long hours, demanding projects, and frequent/unpredictable travel.

One Bain worker on Glassdoor commented, “Bain really lives and breathes its values. I feel both challenged yet supported every single day, and truly feel that I am making an impact. I have pivoted multiple times within Bain and I can 100% say that Bain supports people to build their own individualized career journey.”

The top consulting firms to work for in North America

Another consultant at Bain reflected, “You get to work on the most challenging, high-impact projects with the biggest and best companies in the world. The culture is amazing - I don't think any other high-performance company manages to balance your professional development, freedom to try new things and the supportive, 'family', environment that exists. Bain is truly unique in that regard.”

Facebook, amid a year of scandals and negative press, fell from the first spot to seventh, while Google fell from fifth to eighth place. The companies rounding out the top five were video-calling software firm Zoom, burger chain In-N-Out Burger, software firm Procore, and Boston Consulting Group.

The recently rebranded Big Three strategy firm had an average reviewer score of 4.5 in comparison to Bain’s 4.6 rating on Glassdoor. Employees praise the firm’s whip-smart talent pool, professional growth opportunities, world-class perks and benefits, and competitive salaries. Work-life balance remains a tough nut to crack for top-flight consultancies, though, and perhaps is the requisite downside for all the good stuff. One BCG reviewer summed up: “A monomaniacal devotion to clients has its downsides. Long hours, constant travel, and a culture of insecure overachievement make it easy to burn out.”

Meanwhile, Slalom Consulting was praised for its inclusive culture, skills development and strong leadership. One reviewer praised the firm’s work-life balance, while another complained of the same long work hours at Slalom as are typical at the Big Four accounting and consulting firms and Big Three strategy firms (read: average 60-70 hour work weeks).

Suffice to say at this point that, most reviews of the top consultancies included long work hours and extensive travel as the principal cons of the job. It’s just a part of the industry, as it is in law firms, private equity, and investment banks. The compensation in terms of interesting work, salaries, benefits, perks, workplace culture, and professional development obviously tipped the scales enough to still extract glowing reviews from most employees on the site.

Prestigious Big Three strategy firm McKinsey & Company came in at #19 with a rating of 4.4. One reviewer noted the ‘incredibly impactful work, tackling the toughest problems of the world’s largest companies,’ as well as the ‘focus on professional development through mentorship, feedback, and world class training.’ Another added, “The environment is very entrepreneurial, and if you look for ways to get involved with your passions you can find some spectacular opportunities.”

Next up was accounting and consulting firm Crowe, at #50 with a 4.3 rating. Employees praised the firm’s flexible hours, ability to work remotely, and work-life balance.

Big Four firm Deloitte checked in at #80, with reviewers lauding the company’s ability to provide a variety of experience for employees in their chosen field, as well as excellent support and development. One reviewer noted that the firm’s giant offices and employee base sometimes made it difficult to “navigate through the sheer number of people.”

Management and tech consulting firm Accenture ranked at #88, with a 4.2 rating. One reviewer noted the huge company has a large variety of projects and tech for employees to expand their skills, along with a system that allows workers to switch career ladders with relative ease. On the other hand, one reviewer said a con was that, as a big company, “sometimes management doesn't communicate as well as it could.”

Rounding out the consultancies in Glassdoor’s list of top US employers was EY at #95, with a 4.2 score. One reviewer noted that the firm provided lots of opportunities to develop varied work experience, while another pointed to the career-making prestige of working at the Big Four firm. “You put ‘EY’ on that resume and your life changes. You have people knocking on your door to come work for them. EY has that kind of power.”

Meanwhile, the Glassdoor Best Workplaces ranking for Canada had 25 companies on the list. The only consultancy to make the list was Big Four firm PwC (which was absent from the US list), coming in at #21 with a 4.2 rating. Employees praised the firm's open-minded culture, continuous learning, avenues for career progression, and opportunities to work abroad. The cons were, predictably, long working hours and long commutes to clients.