Nadav Spiegelman

McKinsey & Company: Capital’s Willing Executioners

https://www.currentaffairs.org/2019/02/mckinsey-company-capitals-willing-executioners#:~:text=An%20insider's%20perspective%20on%20how,spreads%20the%20gospel%20of%20capitalism%E2%80%A6&text=The%20author%20of%20this%20piece%20has%20chosen%20to%20maintain%20anonymity.
Author
Current Affairs
My last highlight
2023-07-10
Number of highlights
6

My Highlights

*ce has chosen to maintain anonymity.*
McKinsey claims to be a dispassionate assessor of data and provider of recommendations, but its bias is given away by the name of the industry it helped create: *management* consulting. The people who enlist its services and pay its fees fall firmly on one side of the labor-management divide. McKinsey will never make a recommendation that truly threatens its core audience—any analysis is bounded. Searching for cost savings? Everything is on the table, except executive bonuses, of course.
In the 1950s, McKinsey consultant Arch Patton pioneered the field of executive compensation after discovering that worker wages had risen faster than management wages. (Gasp!) This led to a lucrative business: helping executives justify more and more extreme paychecks. According to the Economic Policy Institute, the typical CEO made [20 times the median employee’s compensation](https://www.cnbc.com/2018/01/22/heres-how-much-ceo-pay-has-increased-compared-to-yours-over-the-years.html) in 1965. In 2015, that ratio had climbed to *286*. When Patton was asked in the 1980s how he felt about his legacy, he had one word: “Guilty.”
This is part of a larger pernicious trend. The age at which students start committing to “careers of excellence” is getting younger and younger. Students begin recruiting for jobs in management consulting in the fall of their junior year amid an environment that [leaves them](http://archives.newyorker.com/?i=1999-10-18#folio=208), “…wondering whether there’s something wrong with them if they’re not interested in consulting and investment banking.” This is in large part due to the hyper-competitiveness capitalism engenders. Young people are making decisions about their academic and professional careers before they’ve had a chance to interrogate their values and thoughtfully decide how they want to spend their lives. One of the biggest appeals of management consulting is that it serves as the undecided major of careers, opening more doors than it closes. College seniors with a McKinsey offer can accurately make a two-year commitment, learn useful skills, gain an impressive network, and gold stamp their resume before joining the Peace Corps and returning to their previously-planned career of do-goodery. Beyond the skill-building, McKinsey markets itself as a place to do good while you’re there (two of the four practice cases on its [interviewing page](https://www.mckinsey.com/careers/interviewing) are in the social/public sector despite less than 10 percent of the firm’s work coming from those sectors).
Any solution that requires redistribution of any wealth or power from the ruling class (the only class who can afford to hire McKinsey) is not even worth considering.
It is the same situation described by Tolstoy: “I sit on a man’s back choking him and making him carry me, and yet assure myself and others that I am sorry for him and wish to lighten his load by all means possible… except by getting off his back.”