Diversity can be defined as the differences among the people working in the same workplace. Those differences can be related to gender, race, religion, marital status, sexual orientation, culture or personalities. Managing diversity within organisation is about ‘recognising this range of differences in people and valuing people as individuals, respecting their differences and their differing needs. It is also about accommodating differences wherever possible so that an individual can play a full part in the working environment’ (Daniels and Macdonald, 2005) The increase of the number of women entering the workplace, especially those issued from higher education has resulted in a movement of change within businesses, characterised with higher awareness of women’s contribution to the organisations’ growth. This change was supported by new legislations anti-discrimination on the basis of gender and promoting equality and better conditions of work for women. This is how gender diversity found its way to organisations’ policies and its benefits became more apparent. In fact, gender diversity is now more than a legal requirement, but also an economic practice leading to competitive advantage. In fact, the literature is rich in studies and researches stating the positive link between gender diversity and economic and financial performance of companies (Ali et al., 2011; Hoogendoon et al., 2011) This is particularly true when the gender diversity is represented in the composition of the board of directors as it enhances the board’s effectiveness, performance and governance (Campbel and Minguez-Vera, 2011; Gul et al., 2011) However, gender diversity's effects are conditional on the existence of an appropriate strategic orientation and a supportive organizational culture.(Dwyer et al.,2003) For this reason, and to make full use of their female workforce, organisations are now offering supportive environment by developing a number of different programs and initiatives such as networking, mentoring, flexible time working, all supported by a clear diversity policy and appropriate training programs. In this paper, we will examine the practice of gender diversity in a large consulting firm: Accenture. We will analyse the programs designed and put in place by the company in order to help women achieve their potential and assist them in their career development. A number of recommendations are suggested to address the main limits observed and the remaining challenges.
II – General presentation of Accenture
1- The company
Founded in 1989 under the name of ‘Andersen Consulting’, Accenture was initially focused on consulting and technology services related to managing large-scale systems integration and enhancing business processes. The organization which changed its name to Accenture in 2001 has evolved from a systems integrator to a global management consulting and technology services company, providing the full range of consulting, outsourcing and related technology services. Today Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, delivering services and solutions for clients in different industries. It employs more than 246,000 people, including approximately 5,000 senior executives, serving clients in more than 120 countries in the Americas, Asia Pacific, Europe / Middle East. The company generated net revenues of US$25.5 billion for the fiscal year ended August 31st, 2011. Accenture promotes a number of Core Values that have shaped the culture and defined the character of the company: Stewardship, Best People, Client Value Creation, One Global Network, Respect for the Individual and Integrity. 2- Diversity at Accenture
By examining the Accenture’s website and different reports of the company, it is easy to observe how diversity and inclusion are two essential concepts in Accenture’s organizational culture.
Accenture emphasizes its engagement in fostering a...