Diversity and inclusion drive innovative results. According to a report by McKinsey, companies that possess good racial/ethnic and gender diversity are 35 percent and 15 percent more likely to have financial returns above their national industry medians. In another study of 22,000 companies across 91 countries, companies with 30 percent female executives make six per cent more in profit. While intent must remain the topmost reason for companies to become more diverse and inclusive, these data points surely make a compelling case for companies to take immediate action.
Accenture Paving The Way
Julie Sweet, CEO of Accenture, said, “Our unwavering commitment to inclusion and diversity unleashes innovation and creates a culture where everyone feels they have equal opportunity.”
Accenture has taken several initiatives that can act as a guidebook to transforming organizations into more diverse and inclusive workplaces. Some of these initiatives are listed below:
1. Diverse Employee Networks
They try to create, employ and empower employees globally to help them grow and excel in their field. The organization showed their support for the #BlackLivesMatter Campaign in 2020 and released a six-film series of their employees sharing their stories about what being Black means to them.
It was created by members of Accenture’s Caribbean and African Network in Ireland and the UK. They partnered with filmmakers and animators, with each short film conveying the uniqueness of individual experiences while illuminating moments that unite us all.
The first video, Black Boy Fly is a story of Daniel, a Technology Consulting Analyst, who realised the debilitating effects that mainstream presentations of black men had on him followed by a rallying cry to rise above them. In the video, he starts off by saying, “Black boy, how many nights did you let them play target practice with your dreams? Lettings headlines and news stories put ceilings on what you could achieve? How much time did you spend biting your nails to look less threatening?” depicting the dilemma that coloured kids have to face every day.
Watch the Black Is Series here.
2. Unconscious Bias Training
They have mandatory training for all employees to help identify and eliminate unconscious bias and promote an inclusive workplace culture.
At an organizational level, they focus on two things. One, create opportunities for teams to engage with people from diverse backgrounds. Pose challenges to confront the tendency to bond only with those who are ‘like us.’
Two, within office walls, exercises are planned that help employees reflect on their personal experiences and uncover how their hidden biases were formed. Employees are introduced to some great narratives in this area via books, Ted Talks, and Podcasts. Self-awareness is the first step to control misinformed reactions. By doing this, the company has seen great results leading to greater inclusivity.
3. Workforce Demographics
They publish their diverse demographics to the world to establish goals for hiring, retention and advancement. Transparency is paramount; they believe it holds them accountable. In 2016, Accenture became the first professional services company to publish comprehensive data about their US workforce. Every year since, they have shared their workforce composition by gender, ethnicity and race, persons with disabilities and veterans.
Since the company began reporting (the image of the demographics are shown above), they have made great strides, including:
- They have added more than 25,000 people of diverse backgrounds.
- The company has recruited more than 5,100 military veterans, service members and spouses, exceeding their goal of hiring 5,000 by the end of 2020.
- They have grown the number of women from 35.8% to 40.0%, achieving their 2020 goal.
- They give people an opportunity to voluntarily self-identify as LGBTQ, gender non-binary, people with disabilities and being a part of veteran populations so they can more accurately reflect and effectively support these communities.
- The number of people who self-identify as persons with disabilities grew by 1.6 percentage points and now represent 4.5% of their workforce.
- Since 2019, people identifying as LGBTQ increased by 0.5 percentage points and those as gender non-binary from 35 people to 44 in 2020.
These statistics have been celebrated and awarded globally and included in lists such as DiversityInc’s Top 50 Companies for Diversity, Disability Equality Index, BLACK ENTERPRISE’s Best Companies for Diversity amongst others. They prove that the company is on the right track to drive diversity and inclusion in workplaces and can serve as a great example for other companies to follow suit.
As Pat Wadors, Chief Talent Officer at ServiceNow, said, “When we listen and celebrate what is both common and different, we become wiser, more inclusive, and better as an organization.”