This International Women’s Day, we’re re-evaluating how we can create a better working environment for women.
COVID-19 has had a dramatic negative impact on diversity, significantly widening the gender-inequality gap and potentially adding 51 years to the time it will take to achieve parity.
“The pandemic has had a significant impact on women,” explains Naomi Begum-Inglis, Managing Director and Accent on Gender Lead at Accenture UKI. “Sadly, it’s actually set us back in terms of achieving gender parity.” From skyrocketing unemployment to taking on more responsibilities at home, it has never been more important to strive for workplace equality and create a fairer, more inclusive organisation where everyone can thrive.
To better understand the work that still needs to be done in this area, we revisited our Better to Belong study, which quantifies the impact leaders can make when they leave their people Net Better Off (NBO), and analysed the data through a gender lens. Using this framework to understand employee experience, we uncovered how women’s experiences in the workplace differ across six key dimensions: Financial, Emotional & Mental, Relational, Physical, Purposeful, and Employable.
We found that women are significantly less NBO compared with overall employees. Of the women we surveyed, 38% feel they do not belong, 29% say they feel less support from their employers in traditional moments that matter, and 20% are dissatisfied with their job. When women are left less NBO and are denied the opportunity to realise their full potential, the organisation as a whole suffers. So what can senior leaders do to unlock this potential and create a culture of belonging?
It all starts with knowing what questions to ask. For instance, a business leader might look at whether they are equipping their people with the right skills to succeed. Whether the reward and benefits packages they offer are meeting the changing needs of their employees. They might think about what they have learnt about their employees’ physical and mental wellbeing during the pandemic, and what best practises they should adopt moving forward. And what they can do to ensure that every voice in the organisation is being heard.
Women want to have influence over the work decisions they make. They want to feel comfortable speaking up, respected by their peers and managers, and supported to advance and grow. Leaders can also leave their people NBO by being curious about their unique situations and the external forces that shape their work lives. When employees are NBO, they feel more empowered and are more committed to their work.
“It’s important to think about how we create an inclusive and equitable environment that allows women to be valued, heard, seen and believe they can have a voice. Building a trusted environment will ensure women can thrive and execute to their full ability.” – Naomi Begum-Inglis
“People are at the heart of our business,” says Begum-Inglis. “If we want to unlock the potential of everyone at Accenture—but especially women, who we know are more likely to feel less supported—first we need to understand their individual needs. The next step is taking action. Because it’s actions that make a difference. It’s important to think about what measurable actions can be taken to ensure that women feel like they belong. At the Accent on Gender panel event we’re hosting for International Women’s Day, we’ll be asking our speakers to think about what actions they can take to make sure people belong.”
Leaders have a huge opportunity to increase women’s human potential. This means providing skilling and advancement opportunities that support their career goals, as well as improving their day-to-day experiences. Our research shows that when leaders get the traditional moments that matter right, they can drive up NBO by a factor of 3.6 (compared to 3.2 overall). And when they focus on everyday moments that matter such as onboarding, compensation and rewards, they can drive human potential up to five times for women. When NBO is increased, so are trust and job satisfaction.
In 2021, our Future of Work Study revealed that the future of work may look different for women. They were more likely to want to work remotely full-time, but also more likely to have to be onsite during the pandemic, revealing a disconnect between what women feel is optimal and their actual experience. Creating an inclusive organisation where women can thrive must be at the top of everyone’s agenda. If not, Naomi Begum-Inglis says, “the gender gap will continue to widen.”
Find out more about our commitment to making a positive difference together and read the research in full on the Accenture Gender Equality webpage.
To find out more about our impact in the UK go to Accenture.com/ukimpact.
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