Closing gender equality gap is not just desirable, it makes good business sense, finds Accenture study

Women's  Day Special Focus: Workplace diversity
Bangalore, March 7, 2020: Today’s workforce cares increasingly about workplace culture and believes it is critical to helping them thrive in the workplace (reported by 88% of women and 77% of men in India), and majority of leaders (91% in India) believe an inclusive workplace culture is vital to the success of their business.   
At the same time, there is a perception gap: nearly all leaders in India (94%) believe their people feel included, yet just one third (36%) of employees agree.  Two out of three leaders (66%) feel they create empowering environments where people have a sense of belonging, however less than half (48%) of employees agree.
A significant gap exists between the way leaders and employees view progress toward equality in their organizations, according to a new cross industry research from Accenture. Closing the gap will yield substantial benefits for companies and their employees.
The Accenture  report, “Getting to Equal 2020: The Hidden Value of Culture Makers,” which covers several industries across 28 countries including India, found that organizations are at an inflection point:
Most leaders also rank diversity and workplace culture low on their list of top organizational priorities. A majority of leaders in India ranked brand recognition and quality (84%), and financial performance (78%) at the top of their list of priorities, while only 37% ranked diversity on top. Also, only 37% ranked culture at the top.
“For every organization today, building a culture of equality needs as much focus as any other business goal,” said Rekha M. Menon, Chairman and Senior Managing Director, Accenture in India. “In an era where innovation drives growth, people are the most valuable source of competitive advantage, and equality and empowerment are key to unleashing their potential.”
Narrow the gap, accelerate progress: Aligning leaders’ perceptions with those of their employees would yield significant upsides. Everyone—both women and men—would advance faster, and global profits would increase by US$3.7 trillion, including US$ 1.35 trillion in the Asia Pacific region. If the gap were closed by half:

  • In India, the proportion of women who feel like a key member of their team with real influence over decisions would rise from 1-in-5 to more than 1-in-3.
  • The annual retention rate in India would increase by 2% for women from 88% to 90%.

The research is especially timely for leaders, as employee expectations are only set to increase. In India, it was found that a large percentage of Gen Z is more concerned with workplace culture than Boomers: (81% vs. 72% respectively). 
The Culture Makers: The report identified a small percentage of leaders—‘Culture Makers’—who are more committed to building equal cultures. These leaders recognize the importance of factors such as pay transparency, family leave and the freedom to be creative in helping employees thrive. 
Globally, Culture Makers are much more likely to have spoken out on a range of workplace issues, including gender equality (52% vs. 35% of all leaders) and sexual harassment/discrimination (51% vs. 30%). They hold themselves accountable, leading organizations that are nearly twice as likely to have publicly announced a target to hire and retain more women. 
While just 6% of leaders surveyed globally, are Culture Makers, they represent a more gender-balanced group compared to the broader group of leaders surveyed (45% women vs 32% of all leaders, respectively). Additionally, a full 68% of them are Millennials, compared to 59% of all leaders. They are more likely to lead organizations where people advance, focus on innovation and remain committed – and their organizations’ profits are nearly three times higher than those of their peers.  
Achieving a culture of equality : The report lays out steps to help close perception gaps and drive progress toward a more equal culture that benefits everyone and enables leaders to continuously evolve their strategies to meet changing needs.
Read the global report    here  
For a few days we carry the Accenture video on Culture of Equality on our Tech Video spot on the Home Page