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COVID-19 accelerated technology to create a moment of truth, creating entirely new realities across every industry. It also widened the digital achievement gap from 2x to 5x, creating additional headwinds and questions for many companies.

Our Preparing for the Future: Innovation with Equality webinar reveals four new realities caused by the pandemic. Sustainability and inclusion are critical as companies expertly navigate change to drive experiences for their customers.

Four new post-COVID realities

  1. Shared human experiences. Prior to the pandemic, we all ate, slept and breathed, and there wasn’t much else that everyone on the globe experienced together. Suddenly, COVID-19 spread across the globe so fast that all 8 billion people started thinking about their day, actions and decisions in relation to the pandemic. We all needed to make life changes—fast—to allow us to quarantine and transition to new ways of working (and living). Technology was the lifeline.  
  2. Every business is a technology business. The companies who survived and thrived were digital or went digital quickly, and they were better prepared to engage with customers and employees in a remote-only way of life during quarantine.
  3. Make it work anywhere, everywhere. The last 18 months proved that many corporations could be meaningfully productive in a remote-only situation. This is creating a new focus on an employee experience that allows people to work from the spaces that are most productive for them. The result is expanding the job market, allowing additional flexibility for those that need it.
  4. Focus on sustainability. Customers are increasingly spending their dollars with companies that align with their values—and it shows. Companies with environmental, social and governance (ESG) metrics have been shown to drive more market share on average than their peers, as they focus their impact on people—and the world.

Designing for inclusion

As these new realities take shape and the redefined human experience continues to evolve, what does that mean for the future of careers?

Companies need to build for inclusion from the start, whether they are designing new products, experiences or even company culture. In my co-authored blog post with Accenture Group Chief Executive - Technology and Chief Technology Officer Paul Daugherty, we discuss strategies to ensure that technology can help organizations ensure that products and experiences perform for all.

To understand the full range of customer experiences, it’s vital to employ a diverse group of people to create products and services for all people. And remember, building for “edge cases”—customer experiences that fall outside the norm—creates benefits for all users.

The focus on building an inclusive, diverse workforce will continue to take center stage, with companies recruiting from different types of organizations and making more investments in communities where they are needed most.

Upskilling for the future

There is an increased focus on “inclusive upskilling”—ensuring thoughtfulness when upskilling talent. Companies are focused on being inclusive with new opportunities and access to training, being intentional so all employees can be equally engaged and informed.

As companies continue to grow and expand their digital capabilities, there will continue to be a focus on tech skills in the talent market. We are seeing continued growth of  “smart” devices across industries and more and more data being created,  meaning data analytics and security skills are more in-demand than ever.

More access to data, advancements in virtual experiences, quantum computing and new approaches to cybersecurity are creating a whole new world of job opportunities.  

The pace of change in technology will never be slower than it is today. The pandemic condensed about 10 years’ worth of digital acceleration into 1-2 years for many companies. That doesn’t always allow for new hires to have 5-10 years of experience.

Instead, there is a mindset shift required for companies to focus on an employee’s learning agility and aptitude, and to create more room for training and reskilling.

See value from all directions. Join us in driving inclusive and sustainable change for our clients.

 

Copyright © 2021 Accenture. All rights reserved. Accenture and its logo are registered trademarks of Accenture.

This content is provided for general information purposes and is not intended to be used in place of consultation with our professional advisors. This document refers to marks owned by third parties.  All such third-party marks are the property of their respective owners.  No sponsorship, endorsement or approval of this content by the owners of such marks is intended, expressed or implied.

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Britney Crooks

Technology Innovation Senior Principal, San Francisco

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