Accenture and READ join forces to empower rural Indian women

07 October 2016 Consultancy.uk

Accenture and READ India have partnered to launch a READ Centre, a hub which will provide the Bagepalli region in India with a library, computer room, women's section, children's room, and training hall. Through the centre the organisations will work to educate local women with a range of skills, thereby enabling them to become more empowered. 

Rural Education and Development (READ) Global was established in 1991 in Napal, with the mission of supporting small communities with READ Centers that provide communities with a library, computer room, women's section, children's room, and training hall. Through the centres READ Global provides the local community with various services, including Education (e.g. adult literacy courses to boost literacy levels, health education), Economic Empowerment (e.g. small business skills training), Technology (e.g. PC and digital skills) and Women’s Empowerment (focused on supporting women across a broad range of issues, from leadership development to family planning and healthcare).

In a bid to empower and improve the lot of women in the Bagepalli region*, Accenture, as part of its Skills to Succeed programme, and READ India have combined forces to launch a rural community development centre in the village.

Accenture and READ join forces to empower rural Indian women

The new centre aims at training 150 women and adolescent girls with economic empowerment, literacy and ICT skills. As it stands, many villages in the region provide limited vocational training – particularly for women – and lack basic healthcare, sanitation and education facilities. 

The new centre will include a multimedia and communications room, an IT area for ICT-based learning, a library and places where women can attend classes, participate in trainings and receive medical examinations. Sarva Dharma Samanvaya Trust, which has been running a school for children at Bagepalli since 2001, is providing the space for the centre. More than 850 village households lie within a five kilometre radius of it – several of the villages offer limited professional and vocational options, and they lack basic healthcare, sanitation and education facilities. 

According to Geeta Malhotra, Director at READ India, “Combination of regular workshops on confidence building, personality development and life skills made women realise their potential. Adding income to the family helps them to create a position for themselves and also take decisions about their children’s future. Being in the environment of education and peer learning at READ Centres helps them resolve many common personal and societal issues.”

READ Centre is Accenture's second full time programme running in Bagepalli. "At our skilling centre in Bagepalli, through our partnership with DB Tech and Quest alliance, we have trained over 108 individuals and placed 87 of them in gainful employment", explains Kshitija Krishnaswamy, Director of Corporate Citizenship at Accenture in India. "The rural community centre is another prong in our development efforts to raise the standard of living and employability in Bagepalli and surrounding villages.”

* Bagepalli is situated in Chikballapur district in the state of Karnataka, India. The municipal is located around 100 km from Bangalore.

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Women remain underrepresented in UK's hospitality industry leadership

12 April 2019 Consultancy.uk

Female engagement at the top level of the UK hospitality industry is still lagging, with the vast majority of decision-making roles continue to be held by men. Only 7% of the industry’s FTSE 350 CEOs are women; however, the pay gap in hospitality and leisure is far better than in other industries, at a median of approximately 7%.

The hospitality, travel and leisure (HTL) sector is one of the UK’s largest employers, with 3.2 million people working in its segments. Despite a poor 2018 in terms of tightening consumer spending, the industry is still one of the top sectors in terms of economic activity, hitting £130 billion last year – besting the UK’s automotive, pharmaceutical and aeronautical sectors’ combined activities.

While the industry is one of the country’s largest employers, it still faces considerable issues around diversity at the top. New analysis from PwC has explored the matter, as well what initiatives the industry has engaged to open up its top ranks to a more diverse background.

Female representation at board level for UK companies and HTLs

According to a survey of CEOs, Chairs or HR Directors of over 100 of the most significant leisure businesses across the UK, the hospitality industry has a relatively male-dominated top level. This lags behind the FTSE 100, where companies have female board level representation at 32.2%. Meanwhile, the figure for the combined executive committee and direct reports stands at 28%. This is well above FTSE 250 levels, where female board level representation stands at 22.4% and executive committee & direct reports stand at 27.8%.

For the hospitality industry as a whole, board level representation came in at 23.6%, with FTSE 350 for the industry performing slightly better at 25.1%, while non-listed companies performed considerably worse at 18.2%. The firm notes that the figures hide that while some companies are making strides to improve equality, others are not moving forward – with the positive result reflecting more often the good work of some, while others are not taking the issue seriously in their agenda setting.

Blind spot

The study states, however, that while the overall numbers are relatively strong, the industry has a number of acute weaknesses. These include CEO numbers, with only 7% of HTL FTSE 350 companies helmed by women and 11% of non-listed companies led by female CEOs. Meanwhile, female chairs at FTSE 350 companies for the sector stand at zero. In terms of wider diversity representation, only 1 in 33 leaders at industry companies is from a BAME background.

Pay gap for HTL and hospitality

The report noted discrepancies between FTSE 100 companies and FTSE 250 in terms of improving the number of women at executive level. The majority have met the Hampton-Alexander Review target of 33% women at board level, up from around 25% in 2016. However, the remaining ~40% are not on target, and are unlikely to meet the target by 2020. A similar trend is noted when it comes to executive committee and direct reporting numbers.

Jon Terry, Diversity & Inclusion Consulting Leader at PwC, said, "To make real progress in diversity and inclusion, businesses need to elevate it onto the CEO’s agenda and align diversity & inclusion strategy to the fundamentals of the business."

Tracking progress FTSE 250 level

However, one area where hospitality travel and leisure companies are outperforming other companies in the wider UK economy, is the mean and median pay gap between men and women. PwC found that the median of the wider UK economy comes is approximately 14% – with upper quartile companies noted for a gap of low 20%, and lower quartile companies noted for differences of around 2%.

The median pay gap for HTL comes in at well below 7%, with the median close to parity. There are considerable differences, however, with hospitality at 7%, while travel comes in considerably higher, at 22%. The latter figure reflects fewer women in higher paid pilot and technical positions within the industry.