Unleash women’s full potential in the workplace, CEOs urged


When women feel respected, appreciated and supported in the workplace, their potential can be maximized by 4.7 times, ultimately leading to better corporate results, thus making it imperative for CEOs to create an inclusive organization where everyone can thrive.

This is based on the “Better to Belong” research issued by multinational professional services group Accenture in celebration of International Women’s Day 2022.

The research found that women feel significantly less “net better off” (NBO) and have less sense of belonging than employees overall. They feel less respected by peers and that they do not have a senior leader who can help advance their career.

About 29 percent of women surveyed by Accenture reported having lower support compared with 26 percent of men, while 20 percent of women reported dissatisfaction with their job compared with 17 percent of men.

The study underscored that employers risk losing top talent when women do not realize their potential at work. However, the study pointed out that when leaders support women during moments that matter—onboarding, rewards, transferring, life events, leaving—and support them every day, they leave them NBO, maximizing their potential by 4.7 times.

Leaders have a huge opportunity to increase women’s human potential. When they get the traditional moments that matter right, they can drive up NBO perception by 3.6 times; when day-to-day experiences are maximized, they can drive up NBO by almost five times, the study suggested.

Ambe Tierro, technology lead for Accenture in the Philippines, Africa and Asia-Pacific, said the research was an “eye opener” as well as a “call to action.”

“It was very obvious that the pandemic hit women the hardest, and it just amplified some of the issues that we already had prepandemic. Because of the increasing unemployment, especially in industries where women are employed, and women were also asked to do more at home during the lockdowns, so overall, women were hit the hardest,” she said in a recent press briefing. “So, there’s no better time to pay attention to gender-related issues, especially for women, than today.”

For this study, Accenture Research surveyed 6,998 workers and 3,520 customers between September and November 2020 across 14 countries within four regions: North America, Europe Middle East and Africa, Asia-Pacific and Latin America. The study included responses across seven industries, including banking, insurance, health care, government, retail, telecommunications and utilities.

“Women feel less NBO in a lot of these dimensions, for example, they are not being comfortable speaking up. They don’t feel they belong at work. They don’t have influence over their decisions, and that they’re not respected … Again, that’s why I said it’s a call to action, because there are women in the survey telling us that there’s a good number of women, about 70 percent, who aspire to be in senior positions, but they are not satisfied with the pace of their advancement,” Tierro explained.

Based on Accenture’s research, leaders leave people feeling better off by being curious about their unique situations and the external forces — such as economic inequality, racism and environmental disasters — that shape their work lives.

The study showed that people who work for companies that leave them NBO, show a 1.9 times increase in trust for their company, a 1.7 times increase in job satisfaction, and a 1.6 times increase in believing their organization is a great place to work. This is in turn seen to double the impact of work outcomes.

Accenture also developed an NBO framework and found 10 “everyday experience levers” to help leaders unlock their people’s full potential: empowerment, communication, diversity, customer-centric, skilling, dependence, governance, technology, self-efficacy and growth mindset. Of these, empowerment, communication, diversity and customer-centric are the people skills that are considered essential.

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