Accelerating equality for all has never been more relevant for businesses and governments.
We are at a unique moment in time when the post-pandemic recovery offers a real opportunity to fast-track equality for all. It is an opportunity we must seize. After all, the data is clear that when leaders prioritize equality, organizations grow twice as fast. The business outcomes are immense. Employees’ innovation mindset is 6x higher in the most-equal cultures.
While we have made progress in recent years, we still have a lot to do. The pandemic has severely impacted efforts at gender equality. According to our Equality Perception Gap report, the participation of women in the Indian workforce is 19.9% with their earnings being 34.5% less than men for the same work.
This global threat impacted women to a greater degree, due to unfair distribution of domestic duties. Many women still remain predominantly in charge of household and family duties, and childcare duties resulting in their leaving the workforce. This has the potential to have long-term effects on their career trajectory and earning potential.
It is time that our conversations focus on building a culture that values, rewards, and supports individual differences. This is precisely what working with demanding clients across the globe has taught me; I have learnt to value the learnings and growth that accompanies an attitude of inclusion. While none of this was easy, having supportive leaders made all the difference. It is the same sentiment of inclusion I carry with me even today.
We can fast-track equality beyond genders when organizations and leaders are ‘bold without limits’
We are now at a juncture when the post-pandemic recovery offers real opportunities to fast-track equality for all through a collaborative approach. It is a moment that all leaders must seize. Men too need to be more active in their approach as an ally for promoting gender equality.
When more leaders come forward and initiate programs that encourage a higher degree of women representation and leadership across functions and industries, it is then that we catapult organizational growth immensely. For me, this is the most appropriate time for women to take up more leadership roles in this industry that’s currently propelled by a huge digital transformation.
Putting policies and programs in place to ‘empower without limits’
My work with the Advanced Technology Centers in India (ATCI), a 12-week Inclusive Internship Program to provide opportunities to build entry-level technology careers to women from diverse socio-economic backgrounds and Persons with Disabilities, makes me proud of how far we have come in this endeavor. Through these programs, our goal was to make them employable. It is heartening to note that 94% were offered full-time opportunities at Accenture.
We need to continue providing opportunities for learning and growth for everyone at the workplace. The blend of exclusively curated training, experiential learning boards and world-class online resources with skill-based mentorship will help every woman ace their game at the workplace.
Accenture programs like Skills to Succeed, Returning Mothers Program, Career Reboot or even caregivers leave have helped in empowering employees – providing them resources and skills for learning, while also encouraging individuality by giving them autonomy over where, when and how they work and have truly allowed them to ‘be without limits’.
The secret to enabling equality is through showing we ‘care without limits’
Employees benefit hugely from such programs that inspire them to challenge their own biases and build a collaborative work style with others around them, regardless of who they are. Owing to our success in converting a skilled talent pool of interns to full time hires, we expanded the scope of this program from persons with disabilities and transgender candidates in 2019 to include women engineers from economically weaker sections (EWS) in 2021, this was called ‘Aarambh’. The program has helped these candidates become role models for their respective communities, further creating ecosystems that provide a supportive environment for learning, inclusion and growth.
To empower women to ‘Be Without Limits’ in alignment with our International Women’s Day theme, we need to build a more equal workplace where employees are more inclined to respect each other, be more productive and content at work. It is time we all aim to bring social equality to the forefront of work culture to create a more positive environment that enables all to achieve their professional goals limitlessly.