Accenture provides transparency in diversity of its US workforce

13 May 2016 4 min. read
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Diversifying the workforce remains a key priority for hundreds of corporations and businesses, including Accenture. The firm recently became more transparent about diversity levels within its US ranks. With the move, Accenture hopes to open up an internal as well as external discussion about the state of affairs, with as a consequence, potentially improved business outcomes and a more equal, inclusive world.
Diversity within business has of late become a key business concern. Diversity across all levels of an organisation has been shown, in a number of studies, to improve business outcomes. The wider social impact, in terms of increased economic activity, has also been shown to be considerable. Studies into the effects of the diversification of the workforce are ongoing, as are programmes to improve diversity – which range from improved benefits to cultural changes within business.
While aggregated stats exist across a range of industries regarding the number of men and women in the various roles within the business hierarchy, many companies are cagey about releasing specifics on their specific workplace demographic. Individual tech companies have in recent years sought to placate stakeholders by releasing the statistics: consultancy firms have however, been less revealing. PwC, Deloitte, EY, and Bain & Company, for instance, reveal only basic statistics – although each is seeking to improve diversity within their ranks – while the consulting arm of IBM has so far released no figures.
Accenture recently decided to buck the trend by disclosing a range of diversity related statistics on the firm’s more than 48,000 employees in the US. The stats show that men are disproportionately represented within the firm’s ranks, at 64%. Most of the men that work at the firm are either Caucasian, at 50%, or Asia, at 34% – black and Hispanic employees come in at 7% and 6% respectively.

Diversity of Accenture workforce in the US

“We already spend a lot of time and money and focus [on increasing diversity], and yet we’re not making the progress that we want to, so we feel like we need to be disruptive,” says Julie Sweet, CEO of Accenture, North America, about the reasons for the more detailed disclosure.

The data too shows that the upper echelons of the firm are predominantly in the hands of white men: 69% of the firms executive are men and 63% of them are Caucasian. The results highlight that bottlenecks appear not merely for women, but also wider diversity groups. The company further revealed that it employs 1,450 people with disabilities and 1,000 veterans – the latter is set to increase to 5,000 by 2020.

The aim of the disclosure, according to Sweet, is to show where the company is now, on its longer journey to a more diverse workplace. Accenture can now be held accountable to its stakeholders regarding changes in the figures – the firm plans to release updated figures yearly. Sweet too hopes that, by making the figures public, a discussion can take place within the firm towards finding ways to encourage a more diverse workspace.

Over the past years, Accenture has launched a number of programmes to improve diversity within its ranks, including more paid parental leave, investing $840 million globally into professional development as well as focus on LGBT inclusion (Accenture is regarded as one of the top LGBT employers in the US).

“When I took my new role as chief executive of North America, I had this realisation that with 48,000 and a $14 billion business I had a real opportunity to make change – and I feel a deep sense of responsibility,” Sweet says. “I personally feel I will have failed if I do not make progress toward making us the most inclusive and diverse workforce in the US.”