Equality at work leads to business growth, innovation – report

MANILA, Philippines – A culture of equality in the workplace can lead to innovation and growth in businesses, a report of global consulting firm Accenture showed.

The "Getting to Equal" survey showed that in the Philippines, the willingness and ability to innovate in the workplace is 3 times higher in companies where there is a robust culture of equality in terms of gender, age, and disability, among others.

The 2019 Accenture report surveyed more than 18,000 professionals in 27 countries in October 2018. It did phone surveys with more than 150 C-level executives in 8 countries in November and December 2018.

According to the survey results, for every 10% improvement in the culture of equality, innovation mindset increases by 10.6%.

Among least equal firms in the Philippines, innovation mindset is only at 30%, while the most equal workplaces scored 91%.

The report said that based on the survey results, having a higher innovation mindset among firms can contribute to the global gross domestic product. It estimated that if the innovation mindset is raised in all countries by 10%, global GDP can increase by up to $8 trillion over 10 years.

Less fear of failure

Workers in firms with a culture of equality are less afraid to fail, with 89% of the respondents saying they are not afraid if their pursuit of innovation fails. In least equal firms, 49% of the respondents said they are afraid to fail. (WATCH: How to build better bosses for better business)

Most equal firms also see fewer barriers to innovation – 23% of the respondents said they don't see anything that stops them from being innovative in the workplace. Only 13% of the respondents from least equal firms believe that there are no barriers to innovation in their workplace.

The report also showed that innovation mindset is similar among workers, regardless of gender and age. Men and women scored 62% and 66% respectively, while both older and younger workers scored 64%.

The Accenture study also found that diversity in the workplace, on top of being equal, has a much stronger impact on innovation. More equal and diverse firms are 4.4 times more open to innovating.

Worker empowerment

The report found that empowerment is "key" to driving a stronger innovation mindset.

In the Philippines, 59% of Filipino business executives agree that they should empower employees to innovate. Globally, it is only at 42%. (READ: Let go of toxic workplace 'emotional labor' in 2019)

In developing markets, the Accenture study said that allowing flexible working requests has the most impact on the innovation mindset. It is followed by providing training to update skill set and remote working options.

On the issue of extended maternity leaves, Accenture inclusion and diversity lead Marixi Carlos said that it does not have "any negative impact but only creates more satisfied and energized workforce."

"It results in productivity and also creates a lot of equity from our employers," said Ambe Tierro, Accenture advance technology centers in the Philippines lead.

By 2025, Accenture plans to have a gender-equal workforce globally. Currently, Accenture female employees is at 42% worldwide. The Philippine hub is at 52%, earning it a gender equality certification in November 2018. – Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.