Gender equality goes beyond just having the same number of male and female employees in the office. For Sarah Kruger, Accenture Australia’s Managing Director for HR in Australia and New Zealand, gender equality is also about equality in education, training, pay, benefits, and career advancement.
“Gender parity also means equal representation for women in leadership positions,” she said, citing a 2018 study of 22,000 global firms where:
- 60% had no female board members
- 50% had no female executives
- Only 5% had a female CEO
Sarah said gender parity is important because each gender has unique qualities and characteristics that can contribute to the company, so combining these unique attributes can create “a balanced whole”.
Multiple studies about how welcoming more females into the workforce increases productivity and profitability already exist, and it’s just a matter of will among the top management to hasten efforts towards gender equality.
In Iceland, she added, there was a time during the 2008 financial crisis when women leaders were given the chance to take over the banks. In the process, they infused their own values, such as cooperation and care in the form of fiscal prudence, into the work culture. This ultimately saved the industry.
“Old excuses about it taking time for women to get to (or earn) their position of equality no longer hold water,” Sarah said. “At this point, the only thing that’s preventing companies from achieving gender parity is their own inaction.”
Sarah has been with Accenture for over two decades, starting as an analyst, consultant, and manager from 1997 to 2005, before becoming a senior manager, and eventually a managing director for financial services in 2014.
In 2019, she became the HR lead for Accenture’s Australia and New Zealand business, where she is tasked to sustain operational excellence and support the business in the development of its talent strategy and delivering exceptional employee experiences.