New research from Accenture has identified 40 workplace factors that create a culture of equality — including the 14 key factors that matter the most. The results, published today in the company’s “Getting to Equal 2018” report, detail the most effective actions that business leaders can take to accelerate advancement and help close the gender pay gap.

The research is based on a survey of more than 22,000 working men and women in 34 countries — including more than 700 in Ireland — to measure their perception of factors that contribute to their workplace cultures.

Among the key factors linked to advancement are:

  • Not asking employees to conform to a dress or appearance code;
  • Having an agreed diversity target and being willing to share it externally;
  • Giving employees the freedom to work from home, particularly on days they have personal commitments;
  • Having an active women’s network with participation from men and women;
  • Widespread use of virtual technology practices to limit overseas travel;
  • Providing training to keep employees’ skills relevant.

Another critical factor according to the report is encouraging equal parental leave. The research suggests that implementing maternity leave alone is likely to hold women back from career progression, but when companies encourage parental leave for men and women, the negative impact on women’s advancement is cancelled out completely.

In addition, the majority (59 percent) of Irish women surveyed for the report work for organisations without a women’s network. In companies that do have such an initiative in place, more than one third (39 percent) participate, with one third (31 percent) of those women in a women’s network that also includes men. The benefit of such a network is evident, as the research also shows that Irish women are eight times more likely to be on the fast track in organisations where there is at least one female senior leader (24 percent compared to 3 percent where there is no female senior leader).

“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 Dr Michelle Cullen, Head of Inclusion and Diversity, Accenture Ireland. “We see this research as a powerful reminder that building a culture of equality is essential to achieving gender equality because people, not programmes, are what make a company inclusive and diverse.”

The “Getting to Equal 2018” research suggests that if all working environments in Ireland were like those in which the 40 factors are most common, there would be a positive shift in workplace advancement. For every 100 male managers, there could be as many as 89 female managers, up from the current ratio of 100 to 56.

“Culture is set from the top, so if women are to advance, gender equality must be a strategic priority for the C-suite,” said Alastair Blair, Country Managing Director, Accenture Ireland. “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.”

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

  • 98 percent of employees are satisfied with their career progression
  • 95 percent of employees aspire to get promoted
  • 93 percent aspire to become senior leaders in their organisations

Read the global report here: Getting to Equal 2018.

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