Diversity in Business: Accenture Publishes Workforce Statistics as Diversity Movement Pushes Beyond the Core of Silicon Valley
Accenture published a detailed diversity report on Monday, becoming the first major consulting firm to do so. The results are in line with much of Silicon Valley, which means there's certainly room for improvement, but as with tech companies, transparency is the first step.
The consultancy firm Accenture released a diversity report for 2015, the first ever for the company and for the industry it leads. Other firms, such as Deloitte and Bain and Company, have not released such detailed reports, and as Fortune noted, IBM -- a major competitor that also has roots in the tech industry -- still does not publish such transparency reports.
"To kick off a new level of collaboration -- and because transparency builds trust -- today we reported the diversity statistics of our U.S. workforce for the first time," said Julie Sweet, chief executive of the firm's North America branch.
"While we have a demonstrated commitment to inclusion and diversity through many strong programs and policies, in the end those do not create diversity -- people do," continued Sweet. "We believe that by increasing transparency around our diversity, we will foster a new level of collaboration and connection with our people, clients, partners and the communities where we live and work."
Women at Accenture
According to Accenture's 2015 report, women make up a little less than 36 percent of the overall U.S. workforce at the firm, with a total of 17,033 female employees. Women fare a little worse at the executive level, making up 31.3 percent of the company's large executive ranks in the U.S., of which there are a total of 17,756.
Latinos and Other Minorities
The overall U.S. workforce for Accenture -- which was awarded by the Hispanic IT Executive Council (HITEC) as Corporation of the Year -- employs just under 3,000 Latino employees, which comprises 6.3 percent of the company's workforce.
That proportion is close to what most Silicon Valley companies report. Intel, which is a leader in Silicon Valley diversity, posted a 8.4 percent figure for Latinos in 2015, while another tech advocate, Slack, only had 5.3 percent Latinos in its U.S. workforce, according to its diversity report last week.
Black employees in Accenture's U.S. workforce fared slightly better, at 7.4 percent, or just over 3,500 employees, while Asian Americans made up about 33 percent of Accenture's workforce in America.
As with technology firms, the executive level of Accenture is much more homogenous; about 63.3 percent of decision makers in the U.S. being White, and 26.5 percent Asian American.
Latinos made up 3.7 percent of the company's executive level, while there were 4.4 percent Black executives.
Broad Definition of Diversity
Accenture decided to take a broader definition of diversity than many technology companies, publishing statistics for employees with disabilities and veterans, for example. Its view of diversity includes resources for, and awareness training to foster inclusion of, people with disabilities, employee gender identity, religious orientation, and other differences that spice up the fabric of a company's workforce.
"We take a wide view of diversity across abilities, age, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, and gender identity and expression" said Sweet. And Accenture now intends to report annually on the progress it makes across all levels of diversity and inclusion, and to keep pushing to change the makeup of its workforce.
Starting the Trend Outside Tech
"While I am pleased with the progress we have made, we are not where we want to be," commented Sweet. "We need to find new ways to make an impact. Just as we collaborate with clients to help them win in the market, we need to collaborate more as an entire community to drive disruptive change."
One of the things Sweet said Accenture was implementing straight away is a hiring strategy similar to what Slack and Facebook have recently experimented with -- inspired by the National Football League's "Rooney Rule." Rather than implementing hiring quotas or other hardline measures, the rule involves simply making sure underrepresented minorities are included in applicant pools, thus giving everyone a chance at showing their qualifications for the job.
It's a strategy that has helped the NFL increase the diversity of its coaching and upper-level support staff. Accenture didn't mention the Rooney Rule by name, but it seems like an inspiration for its next step towards increasing diversity.
"One of the immediate steps we are taking is asking our people to help increase the diversity of our applicant pool in the areas where we need the most focus: African Americans, Hispanic Americans, women and veterans," said Sweet. "Our people are our best source of new talent, and we are launching an enhanced referral initiative to reward our U.S. employees who refer diverse candidates who are hired."
Taken together, it looks like Accenture is challenging itself -- and its rivals -- to follow Silicon Valley in taking an honest, transparent appraisal at diversity and inclusion within its ranks.
And as the first major company in the consultancy industry to do so, Accenture may start a trend in the industry -- much like how Google set off a deluge of transparency reports in Silicon Valley two years ago when it lead by example.
"We aspire to be the company with the most inclusive and diverse workforce," said Sweet, "because it's the right thing to do for our people, for our business and industry, and for the communities where we live and work."
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