Improving Diversity in Workplace Could Boost UK Economy Despite COVID-19 Divide, Finds Accenture Report
 
  • New Accenture report highlights growing workplace inequality during the pandemic
  • UK economy could receive a £393 billion boost if firms take positive action now to improve workplace equality
London, 10th November 2020 - 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, comments: “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.
 
The report concludes by identifying four factors that positively and significantly influence the retention and advancement of all employees.
  • Inclusive decision making bringing in voices and opinions that can help to pre-empt actions that would inadvertently hurt underrepresented employees.
  • Inclusive work design: that focuses on skills, aptitude and the potential for individuals to retrain, and that rejects out-dated assumptions of what it takes to do the job.
  • Inclusive workplaces: a tailored approach to culture, with interventions targeted to employees who are more vulnerable to the impact of the pandemic on their lives.
  • Inclusive restructuring and talent strategies: UK business must reassess their long-term talent strategies considering the impact of restructuring on diversity and, as they grow, tapping in to hidden talent pools across industries and across groups that are not even in the labour market. If their workplace culture is right; this diverse new talent pool will thrive.
     
To access the full ‘Who we are is how we’ll grow’ report, please visit: https://www.accenture.com/gb-en/about/corporate-citizenship/who-we-are-research
 
ENDS
 



Media contacts
Andy Rowlands,
UK Media Lead
andy.rowlands@accenture.com / 07952 594 784
 
Research methodology
 
This report draws on two major pieces of research.
 
COVID-19 Impact Survey
Accenture surveyed 3,023 adults in paid employment in the UK in August and September 2020. The survey took approximately 15 minutes to complete and was fielded online by Jigsaw Research. Accenture set quotas for age by gender, income, region and ethnicity to ensure the sample was broadly nationally representative. Segment sizes shown below:
 
SEGMENT PROPORTION OF RESPONDENTS
Women 53%
University educated 48%
Persons with disabilities 20%
Ethnic minority background 15%
Ethnic minority background (women/female) 8%
Socially disadvantaged background 3%
 
Impact on UK GDP 
To identify the potential impact on economic activity, Accenture combined its data with data from the World Bank, the International Labour Organization and Oxford Economics to model the relationship between innovation mindset and GDP (while controlling for other important factors such as labour productivity). This revealed a strong and robust positive link between higher innovation mindset scores and GDP growth. We used these relationships to estimate the impact on UK GDP over 2020-2030 if all employees worked in organisations that were as equal as the top 10 percent.