Cutting the gap by half would boost global profits by US$3.7 trillion, with a leading potential of US$1.35 trillion in Asia-Pacific, along with workforce ambition and empowerment
Singapore; 4 March, 2020 — A significant gap exists between the way leaders and employees in Singapore view progress toward equality in their organisations, according to new research from Accenture. Closing the gap will yield substantial benefits for companies and their employees, especially for women.
The report, “Getting to Equal 2020: The Hidden Value of Culture Makers,” which includes research across 28 countries, found that organisations are at an inflection point: Today’s Singapore workforce cares increasingly about workplace culture and believes it is critical to helping them thrive in the workplace (reported by 84% of women and 78% of men), and a majority of leaders (63%) believe an inclusive workplace culture is vital to the success of their business.
At the same time, there is a perception gap: three quarters of Singapore leaders (73%) feel they create empowering environments where people have a sense of belonging, yet just one third (30%) of Singapore employees agree. Additionally, the proportion of employees who do not feel included in their organisations is higher than leaders believe (0% vs 27%, respectively).
Most Singapore leaders also rank diversity and workplace culture low on their list of top organisational priorities. Approximately three-quarters of leaders ranked brand recognition and quality and financial performance at the top of their list of priorities (77% and 74%, respectively), while only 35% ranked diversity and 28% ranked culture at the top.
“Our findings show a large perception gap between the way leaders and employees in Singapore view progress towards equality in their organisations. Closing this gap is critical to create an environment that unleashes innovation, allows employees to perform at their best and underpins a culture in which everyone feels they have an equal opportunity to belong and build a career, said Lay Lim Teo, Senior Managing Director, Accenture, Southeast Asia.
“In fact, by closing the gap, our findings estimated that Asia Pacific leads in profits at US$1.35 trillion, higher than other region. Setting, sharing and measuring work performance openly across all levels is one of the ways where organisations can display its commitment to developing diverse talents. It is also one where Accenture implements to achieve a gender-balanced workforce by 2025”.
Narrow the gap, accelerate progress
Aligning leaders’ perceptions with those of their employees would yield huge upsides. Everyone — both women and men — would advance faster, and organisations would see an estimated US$3.7 trillion (US$1.35 trillion in Asia-Pacific) increase in global profits.
If the gap were closed by half:
- The proportion of women who feel like a key member of their team with real influence over decisions would rise by 155%, from 1-in-8 to more than 1-in-3.
- The annual retention rate would increase by 15% for women and 10% for men.
- The proportion of women who aim to reach a leadership position in their organisation would climb by 92% from 16% to 30%.
“Creating a culture of equality must be at the top of the business agenda. It starts with the belief that diversity is not only the right thing to do, but a business imperative that is treated the same as any other strategic priority,” said Julie Sweet, CEO of Accenture. “When a strong, equal workplace culture is prioritised, everyone benefits—and as a result, organisations unlock greater innovation and growth.”
The Culture Makers
The report identified a small percentage of leaders — ‘Culture Makers’ — who are more committed to building equal cultures. These leaders recognise the importance of factors such as pay transparency, family leave and the freedom to be creative in helping employees thrive.
Globally, Culture Makers are much more likely to have spoken out on a range of workplace issues, including gender equality (52% vs. 35% of all leaders) and sexual harassment/discrimination (51% vs. 30%). They hold themselves accountable, leading organisations that are nearly twice as likely to have publicly announced a target to hire and retain more women.
While just 6% of global leaders surveyed are Culture Makers, they represent a more gender-balanced group compared to the broader group of leaders surveyed (45% women vs 32% of all leaders, respectively). Additionally, a full 68% of them are Millennials, compared to 59% of all leaders. They are more likely to lead organisations where people are advancing, innovative and committed — and their organisations’ profits are nearly three times higher than those of their peers.
Achieving a culture of equality
The report lays out steps to help close perception gaps and drive progress toward a more equal culture that benefits everyone and enables leaders to continuously evolve their strategies to meet changing needs.
The research reaffirms the findings from “Getting to Equal 2019” that bold leadership, comprehensive action and an empowering environment are proven anchors for creating a culture
- Bold Leadership — Leaders must truly believe that culture matters and prioritise it. For example, benchmark progress toward a culture of equality by setting and publishing targets; and reward and recognise leaders and teams on progress. A culture of equality starts at the top.
- Comprehensive Action — Go beyond the data. Leaders should solicit meaningful, continuous dialogue with employees. Consider face-to-face meetings, focus groups, town halls. Additionally, ongoing, real-time conversations with employees help capture feedback and empower leadership to quickly drive change.
- Empowering Environment — Encourage and cultivate Culture Makers. Create opportunities for future Culture Makers to opt-in and take on specific culture-related roles in their offices or departments; and find ways to bring leaders and culture-minded employees together to develop specific, actionable solutions.
Read the global report at accenture.com/gettingtoequal.
Building on previous Accenture research that has explored how to build a culture of equality in the workplace, the report is based on a global survey of more than 30,000 employees in 28 countries; a survey of more than 1,700 senior executives (in the same countries). The model identifies the gap between what leaders say and what employees experience when it comes to workplace culture, and then measures the impact of closing this ‘perception gap’ on employees and profitability.
Accenture is a leading global professional services company, providing a broad range of services in strategy and consulting, interactive, technology and operations, with digital capabilities across all of these services. We combine unmatched experience and specialized capabilities across more than 40 industries – powered by the world’s largest network of Advanced Technology and Intelligent Operations centers. With 505,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries, Accenture brings continuous innovation to help clients improve their performance and create lasting value across their enterprises. Visit us at www.accenture.com.
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