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A new report from Accenture says gender equality is good for business.
Equality and diversity in the workplace drives innovation, business growth and success, according to a new international study.
The report by global strategy and consultancy firm Accenture highlights the importance of getting more women into senior roles and of providing flexible working and adequate paternity policies.
Accenture surveyed over 18,000 workers in 27 countries making the project one of the largest of its kind.
It says driving up innovation by 10% could boost the global economy by $8 billion. The research showed that, while over three quarters of bosses think they encourage innovation, only around 40% of employees agree. While many bosses saw financial rewards as key to driving innovation employees were more interested in purpose with work-life balance coming into the equation.
The research focussed on changing workplace culture to enhance and support equality. The report’s authors urge companies to “fiercely promote flexible working”.
Key drivers to a better working environment also include better training as long as it is provided flexibly and the ability to work remotely. Firms that look favourably on flexible working requests – from men and women – tend to get ahead too.
Other factors that help include a leadership team that sets a good example on work-life balance and understanding that employees need to balance work with other commitments whether that be family or just other interests away from work.
The report includes a long list of actions to improve workplace culture, including encouraging men to take parental leave and having women’s networks that are open to men and women, although the authors also say there should be women’s networks just for women.
Employees should not be penalised for refusing to work late or attend breakfast meetings and networking events should take place during office hours so parents do not have to choose between putting their children to bed and progressing their careers, says the report.
Ellen Shook, one of the report’s authors and chief leadership and human resources officer at Accenture, writes of the report’s findings, “Equality is not just an ethical imperative, but a business priority. If organisations want to thrive, they have to “get to equal.”