Accenture commits to female empowerment in the UAE
Reinforcing its commitment to female empowerment, talent development, and gender balance in the Middle East region, Accenture has announced a new memorandum of understanding (MoU) with UAE-based ‘e7 Daughters of the Emirates’.
This three-year collaboration will contribute to systemic in-country change through expert training and development in SME-led capability, storytelling, design thinking, cost control, and artificial intelligence (AI).
Accenture will dedicate qualified professionals to mentor and help fill the gap between theory classes and real-life work experience to equip female students with future-ready skill sets. These activities also help embed a stronger culture of responsible business practices with all stakeholders within Accenture’s communities.
Accenture already helps to bridge the gender gap via various regional partnerships, thereby "improving access, increasing use, and promoting inclusive development”, and this new partnership will go a long way to developing female talent in the new economy post pandemic, says Shikha Bountra Jetley, who leads Accenture Operations in the Middle East.
According to Adela Acevedo Sarna, chairperson of e7, the pandemic has changed how they operate as a social community and leadership development program with technology providing a “life-line”. This partnership with Accenture allows e7 Daughters of the Emirates to continue “our digital transformation journey” and “enable us to create new experiences as 37 continues to develop the future generation of women leaders in the UAE”.
Unequal impact of pandemic on gender equality
Marking International Women’s Day (IWD), Accenture also highlighted it s recent W20 report produced in collaboration with Accenture Research and Quilt.AI. If Not Now, When? A Roadmap Towards a More Gender-equitable Economic Recovery draws on a survey of 7,000 adults in seven countries conducted in August 2020, and online analytics comparing discussion of gender equality between 2019 and 2020 with a focus on ten different areas including health, education, employment, and digital inclusion. The report sets out ten recommendations that could accelerate progress, female empowerment, and economic development post pandemic if fully committed to by the G20.
The research found that the unequal impact of COVID-19 could set the timeline to gender equality back by up to 151 years (2171) on current trends – but full G20 commitment to Accenture’s 10 W20 recommendations could accelerate progress by up to 41 years.
“Exasperated by the pandemic, women remain underrepresented in formal employment, particularly at more senior levels and in sectors such as technology,” added Jetley. “Women’s earnings have fallen 63% faster than men’s. Our data shows that there has been over 16% average decline in women’s incomes – compared to just over 10% for men. Additionally, women are 79% more likely to be made redundant than men.”
This disparity has been driven by women being more likely to work in sectors vulnerable to being closed down; to take on more unpaid work, such as care work; and to be working without income protection. To balance gender inequities in the workplace, organizations need to focus even more on workplace inclusion in which women can thrive and advance.
Moreover, Accenture research found that COVID-19 has increased the importance of digital inclusion, with more women (54%) relying on the internet to work from home, as opposed to men (35%). The reliance of women on connectivity in health, education, employment, and household management has especially exacerbated the ‘digital divide’ for those with poor or no connectivity. Digital technologies have the power to promote inclusion, efficiency, and innovation but only for those with access to the necessary software, hardware, and support. Organisations must ensure that their access to these resources is gender inclusive.