When we speak of creating equal opportunities at work, the conversation usually revolves around women; yet, for truly innovative and inclusive workplaces, we need to move beyond – to consider equality for all and understand why it matters to people of all genders. In fact, the conversation needs to move beyond gender alone, and instead, aim at creating a culture that values, rewards, and supports individual differences.

A lot of organizations today understand that equality and inclusion are not only ‘the right thing to do’ but also integral for them to thrive. However, there is a lot more that we need to do in this regard. For example, individuals with disabilities form 15% of world’s population; however, their involvement in the workforce is very low. According to data from the United Nations, 80% of them are not employed while 60% of those who are employed feel excluded at work. Another relevant example here would be that of the LGBTQ+ communities. An intersectional approach recognizes that people could identify as male, female, as not being part of the gender-binary and may also have other identities such as being a parent, a person with disability, a tech maven and so on.

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International Men’s Day is an acknowledgement of the evolution of the role men play as equality partners; positively contributing at work, home and in the community.

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It is in fact a good time to talk about the need to engage more men in our diversity and inclusion strategies as we celebrate International Men’s Day. There is a misconception that this day is a ‘response’ to International Women’s Day; however, it is actually about focusing on the mental as well as physical well-being of men, while addressing harmful stereotypes that hold men back. It is also an acknowledgement of the evolution of the role men play as equality partners; positively contributing at work, home and in the community.

One of the important factors I’ve observed in my journey in the Diversity & Inclusion function over the years is that that the success of any policy aimed at creating equality at work depends on how well it is adapted to the local cultural context. We need to understand the culture and the background of employees in the local context to implement our policies successfully. In the Indian context, for instance, traditionally, men did not have much ownership for childcare. As these attitudes change, today our parental leave policies focus on the nature of caregiving (primary/secondary) rather than the gender of the caregiver. This change at Accenture is something that truly makes me proud. However, these are also conversations that need to keep happening within organizations in order to understand how the needs of employees in each culture are changing. What is also noteworthy is that when we boost equality and inclusion at work, men benefit from it too. For instance, parental leave and flex work to support family time have always been pitched as benefits for women, but men too can enjoy greater freedom of expression and better work-life balance with flexible work options. This is in line with men stepping in as allies to women at work, as well as more equal partners at home, doing their fair share of family and childcare. Moreover, inclusive teams produce better results and that benefits everyone too.

Our research at Accenture shows that people are more successful in organizations which are intentional about creating equality. This is a good time to reiterate the three main pillars of creating a culture of equality for all – bold leadership (which publicly embraces a vision and goals), comprehensive action (including discussion, dialogue, and feedback from employees at all levels), and an empowering environment that gives employees the accountability and freedom to be innovative.

What are your thoughts on how adopting a culture of equality benefits people from all segments? My experience with the progress made at Accenture tells me that we only have more positives to look forward to when we enable everyone, regardless of gender, to be their best selves at both work and home.

Ruhi Ranjan

Managing Director, Lead – Accenture Growth Markets Delivery, Advanced Technology Centers in India (ATCI) and Inclusion & Diversity, Accenture India

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