Karen Briggs is one of the leading women at FTI Consulting. She leads the Forensic & Litigation Consulting and Technology segments in EMEA and is driving significant growth for the firm across the region. In part one of this series, Karen talked about the current business climate and risk factors impacting clients in EMEA today. In this post, she discusses her leadership style and her passion for uplifting women in male-dominated industries and roles.
Karen, you’ve spent more than three decades helping clients through their most complex regulatory and investigations challenges. Throughout your career, you’ve managed large, global teams in high-pressure environments. Can you explain your leadership style and approach to managing diverse teams?
I believe it's vital for leaders to be collaborative, and I try to embody that. I want to empower others. I try never to forget my roots and what it was like coming up through different stages of my career in a male-dominated industry and company. I believe it's essential for firms to have an open, safe environment to talk about challenging issues, ensure people feel included and establish a culture wherein junior-level employees—especially women—are encouraged to speak up. When people are supported and encouraged in the right direction, amazing things can happen.
I’m working on a programme for reciprocal mentoring at our firm as well. Leaders shouldn’t be deciding what the issues are in a vacuum but rather listening to colleagues from a diverse set of backgrounds to hear what their perspectives are on what's working and what's not. I plan to roll this out across our teams to continue fueling essential conversations.
Do you have any advice for other women leading in traditionally male-dominated industries, or more generally for women working their way up in their careers?
I have fought my entire career to urge more representation of women in business. For a long time, the expectation was for women to behave more like men to move up the ranks. But that's wrong—women don't need fixing! Instead, we need to create workplaces that empower women and recognise the authentic and inherent strengths we bring to the table. It's not just about providing better childcare—not all working women are mothers. It's a lot of things, and it needs to change faster to create a workforce that's fit for the future.
My advice for women is to continue advancing change and speaking out. To support other women and provide mentorship and coaching. To be bold in prioritising what you need and setting boundaries. Seek out role models who can help you understand your options and how to find your voice. Women who are just starting should also look for workplaces that provide support and prioritise diversity in messaging and action.
Do you have any personal stories or additional thoughts you’d like to share about working as a woman in consulting?
At one point, somewhat early in my career, I felt I had to hide the fact that I was pregnant or I would be overlooked for a promotion. Later, I had to fight hard for the flexibility I needed to balance work and motherhood. Nobody should have to feel that way. These experiences are why I'm so passionate about change. Diverse teams make us stronger, and to continue attracting and retaining the best talent, we as an industry must create supportive, inclusive, and empowering environments for women and other underrepresented groups.