If governments and businesses double the pace at which women become digitally fluent gender equality could be achieved in 25 years, according to professional services company Accenture.
Getting to Equal: How Digital is Helping Close the Gender Gap at Work polled more than 4,900 women and men in 31 countries to assess the extent to which people are using digital technologies in their personal and home life, as well as for education and work. The findings suggested that gender equality could be achieved in 25 years in developed nations, versus 50 years at the current pace, and 45 years in developing nations (versus 85 years at the current pace).
Accenture’s digital fluency model measures how digitally active women are compared with men, and ranked the UK’s digital fluency as fifth out of the countries surveyed, behind the US, the Netherlands, Australia and the Nordics.
Women in the UK used digital methods to prepare for and find work slightly more frequently than men (71% and 69% respectively). A third (33%) said digital fluency helps to provide a better balance between their personal and professional lives; and 37% reported that it has increased access to job opportunities.
Nearly half (45%) of millennial women in the UK said that they aspire to be in leadership positions, despite the fact that the UK was found to have the fourth largest leadership gender gap across all countries in the research.
Pierre Nanterme, Accenture’s chairman and chief executive officer, said that women represent an “untapped talent pool” that can help fill the gap between the skills needed to stay competitive and the talent available. “There is a clear opportunity for governments and businesses to collaborate on efforts that will empower more women with digital skills – and accelerate gender equality in the workforce,” he said.
Zahra Bahrololoumi, managing director, UK&I human capital and diversity at Accenture, said that the UK’s digital fluency score gives cause for optimism. “With greater emphasis on developing women’s digital skills – through education, training and on-the-job learning – we have the opportunity to accelerate the time it will take to achieve gender equality,” she said. “Accenture has seen the transformative impact of digital on business, and we’re confident the same rules can be applied to accelerating the movement of women towards greater equality in the workplace.”