Accenture’s “Getting to Equal 2019” report makes the case that creating a culture of equality is not only crucial in allowing all your employees to reach their highest potential, it’s also crucial to driving the type of ongoing innovation that will help your firm survive and thrive in the current business environment. As I explained in my previous post, achieving this type of innovation requires a culture of equality that enables an innovation mindset.

The forty factors and an innovation mindset

Accenture’s 2018 report on gender parity, “When She Rises, We all Rise”, identified 40 factors that influence employees’ ability to advance in the workplace. These 40 factors can be bucketed into three pillars:

  1. An empowering environment that demonstrates trust and respect for individuals, allows them the freedom to be creative, and offers flexibility in how employees work and train.
  2. Bold leadership from a diverse leadership team that openly establishes, communicates, and measures equality.
  3. Comprehensive action manifested through family-friendly policies and practices that support all genders and are bias-free in attracting and retaining employees.

Most, if not all, of these 40 factors are present in firms with a culture of equality. These factors enable the type of innovation mindset employees must adopt to drive ongoing innovation within your firm.

An innovation mindset is based on the following six elements:

  1. Alignment with and support for the organisation’s
  2. Having the right resources (tools, time, and incentive) to innovate.
  3. Collaboration with other departments along with fluid, cross-functional teams.
  4. Being given the autonomy to follow through on a clear mandate for change.
  5. Tapping into inspiration from sources beyond the organisation.
  6. Freely engaging in experimentation with new ideas, without fear of failure.

As culture improves, innovation mindset improves. Accenture’s 2019 Getting to Equal report shows that for every 10% improvement in culture factors there is a 10.6% increase in innovation mindset. Among the three pillars of a culture of equality, empowerment has the strongest impact.

The power of empowerment

Three out of four leaders believe they regularly empower their employees to innovate. However, only 42% of their employees agree with them. That’s a considerable disconnect. What’s behind it? It appears that employers focus on tangible incentives like financial rewards to inspire innovation, when what employees are really looking for are intrinsic rewards―such as a shared sense of purpose.

Accenture’s 2019 study shows that the impact of a culture of equality on innovation mindset is 42 times greater than the impact of increasing salaries. The same goes for seeking out highly credentialed talent versus creating the right cultural environment to inspire employees at any level or skill set. These insights point to a great opportunity for human resources professionals and their firms to focus on the three pillars of a culture of equality, and to give the intrinsically empowering factors a heavy weighting. In fact, eight of the top ten culture factors that drive an innovation mindset relate to empowerment.

In my next post, I’ll offer suggestions on how you can help your firm develop a roadmap for unleashing innovation through a culture of equality.

To learn more about creating a culture of equality, read the Accenture report, Getting to Equal 2019: Creating a Culture That Drives Innovation

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