Wednesday 28 September 2016

Ireland could achieve gender equality in the workplace by 2040 - Accenture

Published 08/03/2016 | 02:30

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Gender equality in the Irish workplace could be reached by 2040 if both government and businesses can double the speed at which women become frequent users of technology.

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That's according to a new report from Accenture, a global professional services firm, which ranks Ireland eighth out of 31 different countries for female digital fluency.

Digital fluency is defined as the extent people embrace and use digital technologies to become more knowledgeable and connected.

The report, 'Getting to Equal: How Digital is Helping Close the Gender Gap at Work', found no measurable gender gap for digital fluency or education but did find a gap in employment.

That gap increases as women try to advance to leadership positions. However, Ireland scored well in contrast to the other surveyed nations, ranking fifth for women's progress in leadership positions.

Accenture managing director and its head of inclusion and diversity, Dr Michelle Cullen, described digital as a "powerful avenue" to narrow the gender gap in the workplace.

"Although gender equality will not happen overnight, investments made in building women's digital skills - through education, training and on-the-job learning - will help speed their progress at every career stage," Dr Cullen said.

At the current rate of digital adoption, gender equality in the workplace in developed nations won't be achieved until 2065.

That target can be cut by 25 years in developed nations while equality could be cut by 40 years in developing nations.

The report, which was published today to celebrate International Women's Day, says that gender equality in employment could be achieved by 2060, down from 2100, by doubling the rate at which women become frequent users of digital technology.

Dr Cullen said that, by contrast, Ireland was showing a relatively small gender gap when it came to digital fluency.

"In a lot of countries men were much more digitally fluent whereas in Ireland, the gap between men and women is actually quite small.

"However, the fluency for both genders could probably be improved," she said. Accenture interviewed 4,900 men and women across 31 countries during December and January.

The firm also found that of its millennial and Generation X female respondents, 40pc said they aspired to be in leadership positions.

Meanwhile 40pc of all respondents said that digital enables them to work from home with 38pc saying it improved their work-life balance. While Dr Cullen accepts that digital fluency won't completely fix the gender gap in employment, she says it will go some way.

"We're seeing less of a gap in how digitally fluent men and women are I think what would be interesting to see how we could accelerate women becoming more digitally fluent," Ms Cullen said.

Accenture says the findings from its report are quite accurate with a margin of error of plus or minus 1.4pc for its total surveyed sample.

Irish Independent

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