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March 06, 2008

Less than Half of Female Professionals Feel Prepared to Succeed in Global Business Environment of 2011, Accenture Research Finds

Those in emerging markets of Brazil, China and India feel better-equipped than counterparts in developed markets
NEW YORK; March 6, 2008 – Just 43 percent of women professionals feel well-equipped to compete in the business economy of the future, according to a report issued today by Accenture (NYSE: ACN) as part of its celebration of International Women’s Day.

The report, One Step Ahead of 2011: A New Horizon for Working Women, is based on a survey of more than 4,000 male and female business professionals in 17 countries across Europe, Asia, North America and South America.  According to the findings, women in several key emerging markets believe they are better equipped to succeed than do their female counterparts in many developed markets.  Specifically, the majority of businesswomen in India, South Africa, China and Brazil — 68 percent, 63 percent, 61 percent and 52 percent, respectively — said that they feel equipped to succeed in the global world of 2011.

“As we look toward 2011, both men and women will have to be prepared for the challenges and opportunities of the multi-polar world, in which emerging-market economies are competing with the collective dominance of the United States, Europe and Japan,” said Armelle Carminati-Rabasse, managing director — Human Capital & Diversity at Accenture“In this increasingly competitive landscape, companies have a mandate not only to adapt their business models, but also to equip each of their employees with a wide array of skills many of which have not yet been demanded of executives.”

The survey asked respondents to consider “skills readiness” across six categories — agility, social responsibility, global skills, technology, inclusion & diversity, and business relationships — with “skills readiness” representing the respondents’ perceived importance of the specific skill to success in 2011, as well as their readiness in that skill.  Interestingly, both women and men rated technology at the top of their skills readiness assessment, cited by 75 percent of women and 73 percent of men. 

Additionally, more than eight in 10 women (83 percent) said they were willing to learn and use new technologies, such as blogs or social networks, as a means of achieving future success.  More than three-quarters of women (76 percent) forecasted a high degree of importance in leveraging those technologies, and two-thirds (66 percent) of women said they expect relationships managed through technology will change significantly between now and 2011.

“Talent management — attracting, developing and retaining the right people for today’s business imperatives — has truly become a global issue, and senior business leaders have placed it right at the top of their agendas” said Adrian Lajtha, Accenture’s chief leadership officer.  “On International Women’s Day — and in fact every day — it’s important for leading companies to remember that they must keep their focus on training and professional development to enhance their employees’ skills.  High-performing companies understand that capitalizing on the potential of all their people is even more critical to providing their organizations with sustained advantage.”

The research also explored factors related to career advancement and identified some differences between male and female respondents.  Women were more likely than men to attribute their career advancement to ambition and drive (cited by 59 percent of women versus 54 percent of men), to passion for their chosen careers (42 percent of women versus 39 percent of men) and to family support (30 percent of women versus 26 percent of men).  On the other hand, men were more likely than women to cite technical capabilities and fostering professional relationships as having helped their career advancement, cited by 59 percent and 33 percent of men, respectively, versus 47 percent and 29 percent of women, respectively.

However, only 47 percent of men said that they feel equipped to compete in 2011, slightly higher than the 43 percent of women who answered similarly.  Additionally, more than half of both female and male respondents (58 percent and 61 percent, respectively) reported that men and women are equally effective at building professional networks that help advance their careers.  Yet vestiges of gender boundaries still exist: more than one-quarter (28 percent) of all respondents said that men are more effective than women at building those professional networks, compared with just 13 percent of respondents who said that women are more effective than men at building these networks.

The research also found that:

  • Younger respondents were more likely than older respondents to say they feel equipped for success in 2011.  Almost half (49 percent) of Generation Y respondents (those between 26-35 years of age) and 45 percent of Generation X respondents (those between 36 and 45 years of age) said they feel equipped for success in three years, compared with 41 percent of Baby Boomers — those aged 46 years and older.

  • Women cited gender, the need to devote energy to children/family, and an unwillingness to relocate as the factors that most limit their careers, cited by just 23 percent, 22 percent and 18 percent of female respondents, respectively.

  • Men feel that unwillingness to sacrifice work-life balance, the failure to pursue a more advanced degree, and the lack of adequate mentoring are their main career-limiting factors, cited by 20 percent, 20 percent and 19 percent of male respondents, respectively.

Research Methodology

Accenture conducted an online survey between December 2007 and January 2008 of 4,100 business executives from medium to large organizations across 17 countries: Australia, Austria, Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and United States.  A minimum of 200 respondents from each country participated.  Respondents were split evenly by sex and were balanced by age and level in their organizations.  The margin of error for the total sample was approximately +/-2 percent.  A full report on the research, One Step Ahead of 2011: A New Horizon for Working Women, is available at www.accenture.com.

About Accenture

Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company.  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.  With more than 175,000 people in 49 countries, the company generated net revenues of US$19.70 billion for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2007.  Its home page is www.accenture.com.

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