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Deloitte’s Claim That It’s More Exclusive Than Harvard Is Pretty Stupid

Deloitte, the largest professional services firm in the world, likes itself a little too much. It’s like Mindy Kaling without the charm or clever sexual overtones.

The firm hires thousands each year across the globe and harps about it. It gives back to the community and harps about it. And, most annoyingly, is a hard place to get a job and harps about it.

Part of Global CEO Punit Renjen’s job is to do much of this harping. The latter claim, that Deloitte is a more exclusive place than Harvard University, came up again in this interview with the Australian Financial Review:

Deloitte is harder to get into than Harvard University based on the number of applicants it hires. It may become even more exclusive under a secret five-point plan by new global chief executive Punit Renjen.

“Less than 2 per cent of applicants get into Deloitte,” the Indian-born Mr Renjen told The Australian Financial Review while visiting Australia this week. “We hired 62,000 people last year, out of 3.5 million resumes we received.”

Since one of Deloitte’s major trades is numbers, the math actually checks out. Plus, it’s a nice soundbite that the firm can toss around to impress people or journalists who cover accounting firms and run out of things to say. But what’s always been condescending and straight-up misleading about the claim is that it lacks any meaningful context. Here’s what Adrienne wrote back in 2012 that still holds true today:

Harvard didn’t come out and say they wanted to admit 250,000 more students over five years, which FINS figured out came out to 140 new hires at Deloitte a day. Of 34,302 applicants for the class of 2016, Harvard accepted 2,032 students or 5.9 percent of the pool. We aren’t even comparing apples to apples here, people. Hell, we aren’t even comparing apples to elephants.

Nevertheless, he we are again, talking about how “exclusive” Deloitte is compared to ol’ Crimson. And that’s fine. But it’s worth noting that there are quite a few other things that are harder than getting into Harvard. With very little effort, in fact, we found this Business Insider post that lists 15 of them:

  • Getting a job at certain Walmart locations
  • Making the top 50 posts on a friend’s newsfeed
  • The American Dream — Defined as “the number of people who were born into the lowest income quintile but ended up in the highest income quintile.”
  • Getting a job at Goldman Sachs
  • Getting a job with the Secret Service
  • Getting into The Data Incubator
  • Some prestigious New York City public high schools
  • Getting a job at McDonald’s (Sometimes) — Fun fact: This recent Zero Hedge post found that, based on 2011 acceptance rates, getting a job at McDonald’s is harder than all the Ivy League colleges except Harvard (they tied).
  • Hands-On Experience With An iPhone 6 (Before Sept. 19) — The post was from last September so take it for what it was worth at the time.
  • Getting a job at an Apple Store
  • Getting a green card
  • Getting into the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad
  • Getting into Delta Airlines’ flight attendant corps
  • Getting into Y Combinator, an exclusive startup incubator
  • Getting a job at Google

Target is pretty darn close too. Even, at one time, Obamacare!

Look, there are plenty of smart people at Deloitte. I’ve met some of them! But benchmarking your “acceptance rate” against Harvard’s is silly. Just stop it already.

Punit Renjen’s plan to keep Deloitte more exclusive than Harvard [AFR]
15 Things That Are Harder To Get Into Than Harvard [BI]