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Gender at Work

Accenture aims at ambitious goal for 2025: a workforce of half men, half women

The population of humanity is roughly 50% women and 50% men.

Companies? Not so much.

It’s no secret that there’s a lack of women in many corporate executive positions, and that certain industries that are more male dominated overall can present barriers to women in the working world.

Today, global professional services company Accenture announced its goal for the year 2025— to have a completely “gender-balanced” staff, meaning 50% women and 50% men.

The basis for the push: Research shows that having more women in high places at work can be good for business.

Where Accenture is and where it’s going

Accenture is already pretty close. The company reportedly has 150,000 women on staff currently, which is about 40% of its employees internationally.

According to an infographic, 28% of Accenture’s executives are women, meaning managers, managing directors and people on the Global Management Committee, which is currently 25% women.  The company’s board of directors — who oversee the company and are not employees — is about 30% women.

Ellyn Shook, chief leadership & human resources officer at Accenture, commented on the new “gender-balanced” staff initiative in a statement.

“We embrace diversity as a source of creativity and competitive advantage…As we work toward ‘50 by 25,’ our ultimate goal is to create a truly human environment where people have a real sense of belonging, where they can show up every day, be who they are and be their best, both professionally and personally,” Shook said in a statement.

Accenture has reportedly taken steps toward this goal, including: being transparent about employee demographics in various countries, training women to develop more “in-demand skills” through programming, and working with businesses and the federal government as part of various gender equality initiatives.

The company has also published research on ending the gender pay gap.

In terms of diversity, Fortune reported in 2016 that Accenture was the first large consulting firm to release information on race and gender. The company also sponsors Fortune’s Most Powerful Women initiative.

In terms of gender equality, in 2016, Accenture reportedly went beyond its goal of having 40% of new employees be women by 2017. It has aimed to have women make up 25% of its managing directors internationally by 2020.

Last year was the year that 30% of women made it to managing director positions at Accenture — the largest percentage in its history.

The nature of industries with fewer women

But Accenture’s pledge to have as many women as there are men in its workforce is not out of left field— while the company has worked for further progression in this area before, this campaign speaks to the nature of male-dominated spots in the the US labor market.

Catalyst recently reported that based on information from the United States Department of Labor, Women’s Bureau, “male-dominated occupations” are ones in which women are less than 25% of the workforce.

While Catalyst listed “clerical, service, and professional occupations” as areas where women dominate internationally, it said that men dominate in “crafts and related trades, as well as, increasingly, plant and machine operator and assembler jobs,” citing research.

The same article also cited previous Catalyst research stating that industries and jobs where men are much more prevalent are susceptible to male “stereotypes,” making it harder for women to get ahead in those spaces. Additionally, male-heavy executive teams establish “the tone for talent management norms” that let these stereotypes affect the processes of moving up the ranks and chances for “development,” and that systems can be susceptible to biases favoring men, leading to less “diverse” workforces.