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May 02, 2006
Glass Ceiling Intact, Says Accenture

According to a survey of executives around the world, women still lag behind men when it comes to workplace equity. Accenture, a global management consulting, technology services, and outsourcing company, asked 1,200 male and female executives in eight countries about factors they feel influenced their career success. The study, called "The Anatomy of the Glass Ceiling: Barriers to Women's Professional Advancement," was conducted in January and February 2006.

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Respondents were asked to score factors they felt influenced their career success in three areas: individual factors, which include career planning, professional competence, and assertiveness; company factors, where supportive supervisors, transparent promotion processes, and tailored training programs come into play; and societal factors, including equal rights, governmental support of parental leave, and other related factors. The differences between the responses of men and women were used to determine the depth of the glass ceiling, or the barrier above which women in the workplace find it difficult to advance.

The survey found that only 30% of women executives and 43% of men executives believe that women have the same opportunities as men do in the workplace today. However, the survey found that women executives are as satisfied with their career opportunities as the men: 58% of both men and women said they are fairly compensated. And while more men said they feel secure in their jobs than did women, the difference is small--66% for the female executives compared with 70% of the male executives.

Women in the United States and the United Kingdom believe that societal problems are the main obstacles for them in careers, according to the survey. They are very confident in their own capabilities and even in the culture of their companies. However, women executives in Canada and the Philippines believe that societal issues are less of a barrier to achieving career success than is the culture of their own company.

"The study reminds us that while there has been progress in shattering the glass ceiling over the past 20 years, organizations--and societies--need to realize how important it is to capitalize and build upon the skills of women," said Kedrick D. Adkins, Accenture's chief diversity officer. "Creating a business culture that supports innovation, growth, and prosperity requires people with diverse talents, and organizations need to ensure that they value all styles of leadership and work. In other words, global inclusion is the key to the long-term success of companies."

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