Resilience Key to Keeping Your Job, Accenture Research Finds

C-Suite executives support programs, career enhancing assignments to develop resilience among female professionals

NEW YORK; March 5, 2010 – Corporate leaders around the world believe that resilience – the ability to overcome challenges and turn them into opportunities – is key to keeping your job. These leaders view women as slightly more resilient than men, and they are providing their female professionals with a variety of programs aimed at developing resilience, according to new research from Accenture (NYSE: ACN).

The research, “Women Leaders and Resilience: Perspectives from the C-Suite,” released today as part of Accenture’s sixth global celebration of International Women’s Day, found that more than two-thirds (71 percent) of corporate leaders report that resilience is very to extremely important in determining who to retain. While respondents are divided about whether men or women are more resilient (53 percent report women are very to extremely resilient; 51 percent report men as very to extremely resilient), 60 percent are providing women with career enhancing assignments, and 40 percent are preparing women for senior management roles.

The survey of more than 500 senior executives – including CEOs, COOs, CFOs and CHROs – of mid- to large-size companies in 20 countries in Europe, Asia, North America and Latin America also found that, despite the economic downturn, many corporate professional development programs specific to women remain intact. Just under one half (48 percent) of all respondents reported making no changes in the past year to leadership programs for women, and 48 percent did not alter coaching and mentoring programs specific to women.

“Resilience – the combination of adaptability, flexibility and strength of purpose – may be the new criterion for professional advancement,” said Adrian Lajtha, Chief Leadership Officer at Accenture. “In the current world of economic uncertainty and intense competitiveness, organizations that instill resilience in their up-and-coming leadership will have a clear advantage.”

Few executives reported eliminating leadership curricula, mentoring activities or minority leadership programs (cited by just three percent each). At the same time, 18percent said they made moderate to extensive increases to leadership programs, 22 percent said they had augmented their mentoring programs and 17 percent noted they had enhanced their minority leadership programs.

The survey also asked respondents what actions their companies have taken to support women’s career development, and almost five in ten said they provide internal mentors or work-life balance programs (reported by 48 percent and 46 percent, respectively). Additionally, only 24 percent of respondents’ companies assign an advocate to women early in their careers and 37 percentprovide women with external coaches. At the same time, respondents associate resilience and adaptability most frequently with seniority; they said senior managers are most resilient, followed by middle managers and, last, by employees below manager (reported by77 percent, 55 percent and 36 percent, respectively).

“Like other critical skills, resilience can be learned,” commented Nellie Borrero, Managing Director, Global Inclusion and Diversity at Accenture. “Leading organizations will provide high-performing women with a variety of experiences, including training, mentoring and ‘stretch’ roles, to increase their resilience and confidence to prepare them to succeed in senior leadership positions.”

Regional findings

Among the survey’s other key findings:

· The survey also found regional differences in how respondents rank female employees who are Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964), Generation X (born between 1965 and 1978) and Generation Y (born after 1979) on certain attributes:

Level of confidence – Four in ten respondents (44 percent) in North America report that Baby Boomers have the most self-confidence. Their counterparts in Latin America, Europe and Asia-Pacific, however, say the same of Generation X (reported by 46 percent, 43 percent and 35 percent, respectively).

Level of productivity – Again, four in ten respondents (46 percent) in North America rank Baby Boomers first in terms of productivity, vs. executives in Latin America, Europe and Asia-Pacific, who rank Generation X first in this area (reported by 37 percent, 44 percent and 38 percent, respectively).

Degree of flexibility – Respondents from all regions – North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia-Pacific – report that Generation Y is the most flexible (reported by 35 percent, 55 percent, 43 percent and 41 percent, respectively).

· There are also regional differences in the professional attributes executives associatemore closely with women:

Proficiency – North American executives are somewhat more likely to relate this trait to women (11 percent for women, vs. eight percent for men). Conversely, more respondents in other regions say men are more likely to demonstrate this quality (Latin America: women seven percent, men 38 percent; Europe: women 11 percent, men 19 percent; Asia-Pacific: women 11 percent, men 27 percent).

Confidence – Executives in North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific are much more likely to link a confident demeanor to men than women. In North America, nine percent of respondents link confidence with women vs. 26 percent who link it with men; In Europe, eight percent attribute confidence to women vs. 39 percent to men; and in Asia-Pacific, eight percent of respondents select women vs. 39 percent who select men. In contrast, more respondents in Latin America assign the quality to women than to men (38 percent for women, compared to 14 percentfor men).
Team work – Respondents in North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific link the ability to work with people at all levels to women more frequently than they do to men (22 percent women vs. seven percent men, 27 percent women vs. 13 percent men and 27 percent women vs. 15 percent men, respectively). In Latin America, however, 18 percent of respondents cite women, vs. 34 percent, who choose men.

Research methodology

In November 2009 – mid-February 2010 Accenture conducted an online and telephone survey of 524 senior executives (CEOs, CFOs, CIOs, CHROs, CLOs and their equivalents) from organizations with annual revenues in excess of $250 million across 20 countries (Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, Nordic [Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark], Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States). The margin of error was approximately +/- 4 percent. The research sought to identify actions taken by senior executives to develop women for leadership roles and the value they give to resilience as a primary quality of leadership. A full report on the research, Women Leaders and Resilience: Perspectives from the C-Suite, is available at

About Accenture

Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, with more than 176,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries. Combining unparalleled experience, comprehensive capabilities across all industries and business functions, and extensive research on the world’s most successful companies, Accenture collaborates with clients to help them become high-performance businesses and governments. The company generated net revenues of US$21.58 billion for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2009. Its home page is

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Caitlin Storhaug