Set clear, concise goals to create gender equality in the workforce
If you want to make a change, set a concrete goal. Put a number on a target, crystallise the focus and make the goal a priority. That was what we just did with regards to gender balance in Accenture’s workforce.
Earlier this week, Accenture announced that we would achieve a gender-balanced workforce, with 50 per cent women and 50 per cent men, by 2025. We are not saying we want to, or we should, we are saying we will.
Such definitive language speaks volumes for the importance of this goal – the mandate is unequivocal.
The rationale is straightforward. As our chairman and chief executive, Pierre Nanterme, said: “Diversity makes our business stronger and more innovative and, most important, it makes the world better. With this new goal, we are sending an important message to our people and our clients that our future workforce is an equal workforce.”
Consider the facts: today, women are underrepresented in the global workforce – just 50 per cent of working-age women are active in the labour force, compared with 76 per cent of men.
Currently, Accenture has 150,000 women, nearly 40 per cent of its global workforce. In China, where the number of women with digital and technology expertise is considerably high, we have already hit the 50-50 target. Over the past several years, the company has set – and achieved – milestones on the path to gender equality. These include:
• Surpassing our goal to reach 40 per cent female new hires in 2016;
• Promoting our largest percentage of women to the managing director level in 2016 (30 per cent);
• Growing our percentage of women managing directors to 25 per cent globally.
So, how can you create a roadmap to attain similar goals?
Take steps to attract, retain, advance and sponsor women, including:
• Sponsor senior women for senior leadership roles with profit-and-loss responsibilities;
• Set measurable, transparent goals. Establish and publish clear, measurable targets to grow the number of women in the business;
• Launch initiatives and provide continuous education and training that provide women with in-demand skills. For example, Accenture’s Women in Technology programme helps fast-track the careers of high-performing women towards the position of technical architect, a high-demand and short-supply role;
• Collaborate across business and government to further gender equality in the workplace – this helps with recruiting and retaining talent;
• Create a working environment that is attractive for non-working women to consider – with an emphasis on flexible working empowered by digital;
• Establish mentorship programmes that provide guidance on how to map out a career path within your company;
Gender equality is an essential element of an inclusive workplace. Setting clear and concise goals on how to get there is imperative if we are going to create an equal workforce.
Gianfranco Casati is Accenture’s group chief executive for growth markets