“A rare opportunity.” A non-binary transfeminine consultant makes their mark at McKinsey

The fullness of the gender spectrum is represented at McKinsey, and our work is richer for it.

Danny Hurvitz joined the firm almost a year ago. Based in Chicago, they predominantly work in our People and Organizational Performance practice, focusing on helping our clients with their diversity, equity, and inclusion transformations.

Danny’s gender identity is non-binary, an umbrella term for gender identities that are outside of the binary—not solely male or female. They are also transfeminine, which means they are affirmed by their feminine side. (This is different than trans women, who are women.) Danny can typically be seen sporting earrings, makeup, nail polish, or other elements of traditionally feminine presentation.

Danny Hurvitz
Danny Hurvitz
Danny Hurvitz

A non-binary transfemme identity can be challenging in a business setting. To those without knowledge of gender identity, a person such as Danny could be misperceived or mistreated. Danny is showing up as their authentic self and doing their job like everyone else but being effeminate often diminishes a person’s perceived power in a society that is still mostly heteronormative and male dominated.

“Sometimes feedback I get is about being ‘sassy,’ which is similar to calling a woman ‘opinionated,’ something that is good for a man but seen as too aggressive for anyone else,” says Danny. “People don’t always know how to interact with me in a professional setting, and they aren’t necessarily conscious of it.”

According to McKinsey research, trans people are twice as likely as cisgender people to be unemployed, earn less money even when they are as well qualified, and feel less supported at work and by their managers. More than half are not out at work.

“Entering consulting, I had major concerns about if I would be safe and welcome,” says Danny, whose experience in business school suggested they were entering a field that had few people who are trans or gender non-conforming. “During recruiting, McKinsey was the only firm that could connect me with a trans employee. That made all the difference in my decision to come here.”

That colleague was David DeLallo, who is a trans man and executive editor at McKinsey. While his experience is different from Danny’s, the conversation made Danny feel like they’d be welcome at McKinsey, even though they would become one of the first client-facing, openly non-binary trans-femme person at McKinsey. Since Danny was recruited in 2019 a number of other client-facing trans people have joined the firm.

Danny’s experience since joining the firm has been positive overall but not without its growing pains. For instance, at the end of Danny’s summer internship at the firm, a survey to assess intern experience asked for gender identification and offered three options: male, female, and prefer not to disclose.

“I emailed the survey creator and said, ‘I’d love to disclose my gender identity, but it’s not an available option,” Danny says. “I got a fast reply saying they had changed it. It was real allyship. I can’t tell you the number of times elsewhere I had to keep pushing to get change over the line.”

Danny finds McKinsey to be an affirming place where the trans community is growing. An internal Slack channel for trans and gender non-conforming people started with a handful of people and now has several dozen.

Past experiences have not felt as safe. Danny grew up outside Detroit and came out as gay at age 16, later identifying as queer. While their family and educational environment was supportive, opportunities for queer guidance or mentorship were lacking, which inspired Danny to become a teacher. In early experiences teaching first and third grade students, Danny was able to educate their students about queer people, even if initially receiving some difficult reactions. But when Danny relocated for family reasons, the situation changed. Students were quite hostile, and it became untenable to teach them.

“A student had to be carried out of the room screaming at me for being gay,” says Danny.

They left teaching and applied to business school while working for a nonprofit, where they found a community of trans people. This new support inspired Danny to embrace their femininity after years of trying to suppress it. It was revelatory for Danny, who finally understood how gender dysphoria had played a role in their life and the joy of living their true gender identity.

When people talk about these issues, they are rarely talking about people like me. I wanted to change that.

Danny Hurvitz, McKinsey associate

This knowledge gave them the strength and determination to push for greater recognition and respect. “There have been times when I felt entirely disrespected for who I am,” they say, “and this definitely affected my work.”

But Danny fought for use of their correct pronouns and name (like many trans people, Danny changed their name), and triumphed over many challenges to pursue their career goals of working in diversity, equity, and inclusion.

“There’s been a lot of progress on inclusion efforts, but so little of that is focused on the spectrum of gender diversity,” Danny says. “When people talk about these issues, they are rarely talking about people like me. I wanted to change that.”

Today, their work at McKinsey centers on creating and leading workshops and individual coaching sessions to help organizations develop new DEI strategies, addressing their unique needs and challenges. They advise on employee resource groups, such as for LGBTQ people and people of color, and how organizations can recruit and retain a more diverse workforce and create an environment where everyone will thrive.

Monne Williams, a partner who works with Danny, says that their identity offers a unique perspective for clients to learn from.

“For many of our clients, it’s their first time working with someone gender non-conforming,” says Monne. “So not only do they see that it’s like working with anyone else, but they also have Danny who is so open and willing to have generous conversations about their experience. It’s a rare opportunity.”

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