Establishing gender equality for women can pay dividends on many fronts, according to Accenture’s newest report, Getting to Equal 2018.
This year’s study surveyed more than 22,000 working men and women, including more than 700 Canadians, to identify the 40 workplace factors to unlock gender equality and narrow the wage gap.
In companies where those workplace factors are most common, gender and pay equity gaps are significantly lower, and women are more likely to advance. For example, women are 38 per cent more likely to advance to manager or higher and five times as likely to advance to senior manager/director or higher if the 40 factors are common within the organization.
While Getting to Equal is an annual study on gender pay gaps, this year’s report homed in on employers who are attuned to equality and how they do it, says Bill Morris, president, Accenture Canada. “Overall, those companies provide greater opportunities for women and greater job satisfaction.”
Women stand to gain the most in narrowing the gender gap in advancement and pay. Accenture found that if all working environments in Canada were like those in which the 40 factors are most common,
— for every 100 male managers, there could be as many as 94 female managers, up from the current 53
— women’s pay could increase 39 per cent, or up to an additional US$26,627 per year
— women could earn US$95 for every US$100 a man earns, helping to close the pay gap and lifting women’s total earnings by US$28 billion in Canada alone.
The report groups the 40 workplace factors into three categories: bold leadership, comprehensive action and an empowering environment.
Bold leadership refers to a diverse leadership team that sets, shares and measures equality targets openly. Key factors within that group include setting gender diversity as a priority, sharing diversity targets or goals outside the organization, and clearly stating gender-pay goals and ambitions. The data show that women are more likely to be on the fast track in organizations in which leadership teams are held accountable for improving gender diversity (58 per cent versus 39 per cent).
Comprehensive action refers to policies and practices that are family friendly, support both genders and are free from bias. This includes, among other factors, establishing a women’s network and implementing paternity leave. Research indicates that involvement in a women’s network correlates with advancement. In companies with a women’s network, 86 per cent of women participate. Three-quarters (76 per cent) of those women are in a women’s network that also includes men. “Yet one-third of Canadian employers surveyed have women’s networks,” Morris notes.
As for an empowering environment, Morris references the notion of the truly human workplace. “Employers that don’t impose dress codes, and that do provide a lot of workplace freedom and flexible hours, do not discriminate, and encourage employees to be innovative and creative, show less of a gender pay gap.”
Some other noteworthy data from the survey include:
— almost three times more women are on the fast track in organizations with at least one female senior leader than in organizations in which all senior leaders are male (21 and eight per cent respectively)
— while 73 per cent of women and 81 per cent of men aspire to reach senior leadership positions, those numbers increase to 93 per cent of women and 94 per cent of men at organizations where the 40 factors are common
— 57 per cent of non-fast-track women say their organizations provide relevant skills training. That number rises to 70 per cent among fast-track women
— technology that helps employees work remotely enables greater career progression of women – 65 per cent of fast-track women use technology to attend meetings virtually, and 83 per cent have flexible work schedules (versus 73 per cent for all women).
And another compelling statistic indicates that in workplaces where the 40 factors supporting equality are more common, only three per cent of women are likely to experience sexual harassment or sex discrimination versus 28 per cent of women in workplaces where those factors are less common.
The study shows that corporations need to establish a culture in which gender equality is a key strategic priority for the C-suite, Morris says. “Top leaders need to engage their leadership teams and have some real discussions about closing these gaps. Diverse teams drive creativity and innovation. That’s the opportunity. That’s the business case here.”
The full report Getting to Equal 2018: creating a culture where everyone thrives, including a complete listing of the 40 factors, can be downloaded here.