Corporate Culture, Diversity, Leadership

Unlocking Gender Equality and Narrowing the Pay Gap

New research has identified 40 workplace factors that create a culture of equality, including 14 factors that matter most.

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The research, from professional services firm Accenture, is based on a survey of more than 22,000 working men and women in 34 countries – including more than 1,400 in the United States – to measure their perception of factors that contribute to their workplace cultures. The survey was supplemented with in-depth interviews and a detailed analysis of published data on a range of workforce issues.

“Our research shows that in companies with cultures that include the workplace factors that help women advance, men thrive too, and we all rise together,” said Julie Sweet, Accenture’s chief executive officer – North America. “We see this research as a powerful reminder that building a culture of equality is essential to achieving gender equality because people, not programs, are what make a company inclusive and diverse.”

Benefits of Equality

Accenture’s research finds that in companies where the 40 factors are most common, everyone benefits:

  • 98 percent of employees are satisfied with their career progression.
  • 90 percent of employees aspire to get promoted.
  • 89 percent aspire to become senior leaders in their organizations.

And, everyone has a better opportunity to advance:

  • Women are 42 percent more likely to advance to manager or above and five times as likely to advance to senior manager/director or above.
  • Men are 20 percent more likely to advance to manager or above and twice as likely to advance to senior manager/director or above.

Setting clear diversity targets, the research finds, is a crucial step for leaders who want to strengthen their cultures.

“Culture is set from the top, so if women are to advance, gender equality must be a strategic priority for the C-suite,” said Ellyn Shook, Accenture’s chief leadership & human resources officer. “It’s critical that companies create a truly human environment where people can be successful both professionally and personally – where they can be who they are and feel they belong, every day.”

Where to Focus

The report based on the survey, Getting to Equal 2018, groups the 14 core factors proven to influence advancement into three categories: bold leadership, comprehensive action, and an empowering environment.

The 14 cultural drivers, grouped in the three categories, are:

Bold Leadership

  • Gender diversity is a priority for management.
  • A diversity target or goal is shared outside the organization.
  • The organization clearly states gender pay-gap goals and ambitions.

Comprehensive Action

  • Progress has been made in attracting, retaining, and progressing women.
  • The company has a women’s network.
  • The company’s women’s network is open to men.
  • Men are encouraged to take parental leave.

An Empowering Environment

  • Employees have never been asked to change their appearance to conform to company culture.
  • Employees have the freedom to be creative and innovative.
  • Virtual/remote working is widely available and is common practice.
  • The organization provides training to keep its employees’ skills relevant.
  • Employees can avoid overseas or long-distance travel via virtual meetings.
  • Employees can work from home on a day when they have a personal commitment.
  • Employees are comfortable reporting sex discrimination/sexual harassment incident(s) to the company.