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

“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,” says Ntombi Mhangwani, head of Women’s Forum and director for integrated marketing and communications at Accenture in Africa. “We see this research as a powerful reminder that building a culture of equality is essential to achieving gender equality because people, not programs, are what make a company inclusive and diverse.”

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

* 92% of employees are satisfied with their career progression;

* 93% of employees aspire to get promoted; and

* 97% aspire to become senior leaders in their organisations.

In addition, the study found that everyone has a better opportunity to advance:

* Women are 43% more likely to advance to manager or above and 3.5 times as likely to advance to senior manager/director or above; and

* Men are 25% more likely to advance to manager or above and nearly twice as likely to advance to senior manager/director or above.

While both women and men advance in companies in which the 40 factors are common, women have the most to gain. If all working environments in South Africa were like those in which the 40 factors are most common:

* For every 100 male managers, there could be as many as 87 female managers, up from the current ratio of 100 to 46.

* Women’s pay could increase 122%, or up to an additional $17 560 per year.

* Women could earn $87 for every $100 a man earns, helping to close the pay gap and lifting women’s total earnings by $11,4-billion nationwide.

Setting clear diversity targets, the research found, is a crucial step for leaders who want to strengthen their cultures.

“Culture is set from the top, so if women are to advance, gender equality must be a strategic priority for the C-suite,” says Mhangwani. “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.”

The report, which builds on Accenture’s 2017 research on how digital fluency and technology can close the gender gap in the workplace, grouped the 14 core factors proven to influence advancement into three categories of bold leadership, comprehensive action and an empowering environment.

Key South African findings in the three categories include:

* Bold leadership: Women are more likely to be on the fast track in organisations where leadership teams are held accountable, both internally and externally, for improving gender diversity (65% compared to 52%).

* Comprehensive action: Involvement in a women’s network correlates with women’s advancement, but the vast majority (625) of the women surveyed for the report work for organizations without such a network. In companies that have a women’s network, nine in 10 women (95) participate, with most (89%) of those women in a women’s network that also includes men.

* An empowering environment: Among the factors linked to advancement are not asking employees to conform to a dress or appearance code, and giving employees the responsibility and freedom to be innovative and creative.

The research is based on a survey of more than 22 000 working men and women in 34 countries — including 723 in South Africa — to measure their perception of factors that contribute to their workplace cultures. The survey was supplemented with in-depth interviews and a detailed analysis of published data on a range of workforce issues.