As we look back on International Women's Month, we continue to celebrate all women in the world and recognize their achievements and positive impact on society. We also come together to advocate for greater gender equality by raising awareness and acting on issues that affect women. 

Each of us needs to play a role in breaking the gender barriers that women face at work and beyond. But how can individuals and organizations do so? I turn to Accenture’s Better To Belong research, highlighted for this year’s International Women’s Day, for insights.  

Here’s what we uncovered: The pandemic heightened gender inequalities. Women, in particular, bore the brunt of the crisis’ negative effects. Industries where many women work took a hit due to lockdowns, leading to decreased working hours or loss of employment. At the same time, women’s unpaid care and household activities increased, upending their work-life balance and limiting their career outlook.  

Powering positive experiences at work 

It’s never been more important for us to pay attention to women’s everyday experiences in the workplace. The research shows that female employees receive less support during their talent life cycle, including in moments that matter such as onboarding and promotion. What then can be done to empower more of them to thrive and succeed? 

One word: Belonging. 

Currently, women report less belonging in the workplace than employees overall. They attribute this feeling to factors such as lack of respect from peers and not having a senior leader who encourages them to advance their careers. Additionally, having little influence over decisions and being uncomfortable speaking their mind also decrease their sense of belonging. 

That is why it is important for organizations and leaders to take concrete steps to strengthen women’s sense of belongingness. Here are a few recommendations: 

  • Boost women’s ability to make decisions about work that suits their unique situations.  
  • Provide skilling and advancement opportunities that support women’s career goals. 
  • Match more female talents with leaders who can actively help them grow. 
  • Build inclusive environments that enhance and protect women’s psychological safety to speak up. 

    Our research shows that by taking these actions, organizations can maximize the human potential for women by as much as 4.7 times. 

    Paving a path to net better off 

    Another way that organizations can support women and enhance their human potential is by leaving them net better off (NBO). This means caring for their wellbeing across six dimensions, namely: financial, emotional and mental, relational, physical, purposeful, and employable.  

    At Accenture, for example, we empower our people to feel a greater sense of purpose by enabling them to give back to communities through volunteering and corporate citizenship. In one initiative, our volunteers helped address food insecurity in the Philippines by creating a hunger map using technology. Many more engage themselves in solving other societal challenges by applying technology, industry or business know-how. 

    We also address our people’s needs in the employable dimension by advancing their professional and personal development. We provide inclusive leadership training, for example, to our supervisors and managers, and we coach and mentor our female employees to act, engage and lead courageously in the workplace through programs such as ACTualize!  

    Additionally, we reach out to women in underprivileged communities and help develop their knowledge of technology through our partnerships with Women Who Code and Girls Who Code. Recently, we also created Nanays In Tech, a program that imparts IT skills to unemployed or stay-at-home moms, enabling them to engage and participate in the global digital economy. 

    Getting intentionally inclusive 

    As an Accenture leader, I personally commit to foster inclusion and equality in the workplace through three things:  

    • Being bold and vocal about our inclusion and diversity goals, including achieving a gender-balanced workforce by 2025.  
    • Mentoring both women and men in the workplace, so they can realize their passion and commitment for tech and innovation.  
    • Creating a work environment that values each person’s participation and voice. 

      Got a commitment on gender equality? Act on them today. Amplify women’s voice and role in the workplace, so all can be empowered to thrive.  

      That is what true inclusion is all about—making sure everyone feels safe, supported and successful. I believe that if we focus on these three things, all our actions on advancing diversity and inclusion will follow. 

      END

      Ambe Tierro

      Accenture Technology Lead in the Philippines

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