Here are three actionable areas for implementing corporate culture change

Focus on these three actionable areas to create a workplace of equality in which women and men have equal opportunities for advancement and pay

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 17 March, 2018, 2:02pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 17 March, 2018, 2:02pm

Many companies hosted events to commemorate International Women’s Day on March 8. But it’s never really been a one-day celebration. Organisations around the world hold events throughout the month of March, sometimes in April too, that are designed to encourage networking or inspire change in the business landscape.

These events are imperative. We have discovered through our research timed to the annual event that when companies are vocal about their aspirations to create diversity in the workforce they tend to make real change in their places of employment. This makes sense. Accountability increases the likelihood of results.

Accenture’s latest research, Getting to Equal 2018 uncovers three actionable areas leaders must focus on to create a workplace of equality – in which women and men have equal opportunities for advancement and pay:

  • Bold Leadership: Establishing a diverse leadership team that sets, shares and measures equality targets openly.
  • Comprehensive Action: Setting policies and practices that are family-friendly, support both genders and are bias free in attracting and retaining people.
  • Empowering Environment: Creating an environment that trusts employees, respects individuals and offers freedom to be creative and to train and work flexibly.

What do we mean by this? Here’s a few examples executives could implement:

  • Bold Leadership

Make gender diversity a priority for management

Set a diversity target or goal and share it outside the organisation

Clearly state gender pay gap goals and ambitions

  • Comprehensive Action

Improve results in attracting, retaining and progressing women

Set up an active internal women’s network, as opposed to no network

Make that active internal women’s network open to men and women

Encourage men to take parental leave

  • Empowering Environment

Don’t ask employees to change their appearance to conform to company culture

Ensure employees have the freedom to be creative and innovative

Enable virtual/remote working as a widely available and common practice

Provide training to keep employees’ skills relevant

Let employees avoid overseas or long-distance travel via virtual meetings

Permit employees to work from home on a day when they have a personal commitment

Ensure that employees know they can report sexual discrimination/harassment to the company

Our research shows that changing the culture of a company to one that embraces diversity unlocks potential. It certainly improves the potential candidate pool for leadership. Our survey showed that in China 60 per cent of employees at organisations where leadership are accountable for improving gender diversity say the proportion of women in senior leadership has increased over the past five years.

Walk the Talk

At Accenture, we are committed to fostering inclusion, advancing diversity and ensuring that every one of our more than 435,000 people feel like they belong. We believe in a workplace where everyone – regardless of ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age or disability – feels equally accepted. That means offering a workplace where people feel comfortable engaging in honest, open dialogue, even about typically taboo topics – like race or religion.

Being an equitable organisation means removing boundaries that prevent an inclusive and productive environment. It requires us to examine our differences and find common ground.

Frankly, this makes good business sense. We’re in the business of delivering innovation – to do this, we need people who bring their unique perspectives and skills to the table. Diversity helps drive the disruptive change that our clients look for.

The numbers tell the story – globally we have more than 170,000 women at Accenture – more than 40 per cent of our global workforce. In 2016, we surpassed our goal to reach 40 per cent new women hires. Women accounted for a record 32 per cent of our newly promoted managing directors in 2017.

By 2020, we plan to grow the percentage of women managing directors globally to 25 per cent. Women hold many key leadership positions: 25 per cent of our Global Management Committee, our primary governance group, are women; women represent 36 per cent of our external board of directors (four of 11), including our lead director and nearly a third (28 per cent) of our executives (manager and above) are women.

Susanna Li is managing director, Greater China human capital and diversity lead