British businesses could reap huge rewards by reversing the damaging effect the pandemic has had on workplace equality, according to a new report from Accenture called ‘Who we are is how we’ll grow’.
The research, which includes the views of more than 3,000 people in paid employment in the UK, reveals that women with children have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic, with mothers spending nearly two additional hours a day on childcare.
There is some positive news, however, with Accenture’s analysis indicating that if all UK companies were able to improve workplace inclusivity by just 10 percent, the resulting uplift in ‘innovation mindset’ – their ability and willingness to innovate – could increase UK GDP by up to 1.5% each year, equating to a total boost to the UK economy of £393 billion between now and 2030.
Olly Benzecry, Managing Director for Accenture UK & Ireland said, “No-one has been left untouched by this crisis, but the impact has been particularly hard on individuals who already suffer when it comes to inclusion. However, out of every crisis there is an opportunity for positive change. By creating a more inclusive workplace culture and allowing all employees to thrive equally, businesses can tackle some of these long-standing issues head on and make real, progressive change.”
The report highlights the challenges faced by ethnic minority employees dealing both with the pandemic and the traumatic events in the US, as highlighted by the Black Lives Matter Movement. Analysis of how organisations responded to the protests revealed significant room for improvement. For example, 53% of ethnic minority employees said that their employer either took no concrete actions or that they were unaware of any actions taken.
In addition, Accenture’s research reveals that just 16% of employees with disabilities said they feel completely included at work compared to almost a quarter (23%) pre-pandemic. The research paints a similar picture for those from socially disadvantaged backgrounds with little over half (56%) saying they feel well supported by their employer since the start of the pandemic, compared with 75% of their colleagues, a 19-percentage point gap.
The report also highlights the importance of workplace culture, with nearly three quarters (73%) of employees stating that culture is important in helping them thrive. Women (80%) feel this more strongly than men (66%) and younger employees more than their older peers (79% of Gen Z versus 57% of Baby Boomers). And most UK leaders agree, with nearly two thirds (62%) saying that an inclusive workplace environment and culture is vital to the success of their business.