How can CIOs develop a workforce of the future when they don’t have the talent they need? IT organizations, like their peers in other parts of the business, continue to struggle with significant skill gaps. That is no wonder. CIO.com earlier this year reported on the low unemployment in the tech sector – 3 percent in the United States.
Many organizations may be overlooking an abundant, yet untapped, pool of talent — women. Although women are beginning to achieve gender equality and close the gender gap in IT by developing digital fluency, they remain underrepresented in the workforce in most developed countries. Increasing the number of women in the workforce and on leadership teams could allow CIOs to improve gender equality and access the skills they need to be successful.
Organizations are most effective when gender composition aligns with the audience the organization is serving. Right now, this is not the case. IT organizations that have an imbalanced workforce are less able to anticipate and proactively address customer needs.
Bridging the divide
The extent to which people embrace and use digital technologies to become more knowledgeable, connected and effective.
Developing digital skills and knowledge can help women prepare for work, find employment and excel in the workforce. Accenture’s recent research, Getting to Equal:How digital is helping close the gender gap at work, shows that digital fluency is an accelerant at every stage of a woman’s career, and an increasingly important factor for advancing into the leadership ranks.
The potential global impact of digital fluency is profound. If governments and businesses can double the pace at which women become digitally fluent, the world could achieve gender equality in the workplace by 2040 in developed nations and by 2060 in developing nations.
Accenture developed a Digital Fluency Model to understand the effects of digital fluency on workplace gender equality. The model shows that nations with higher rates of digital fluency among women have higher rates of gender equality in the workplace. The United States, Netherlands, United Kingdom and Nordic countries have the highest digital fluency scores in the sample and rank among the top performers on workplace equality.
Additionally, the research found that men (76 percent) use digital more frequently than women (72 percent). Men also tend to be more proactive than women about learning new digital skills with 52 percent of men versus 45 percent of women reporting that they’re continuously learning new digital skills.
Accenture’s research also revealed many employment opportunities that digital fluency enables:
- More than two-thirds of the women and men surveyed — 72 percent and 68 percent, respectively — said that digital is enabling more flexible ways for women to work.
- This increased flexibility removes barriers for non-working women.
- Nearly 60 percent of women who are not currently employed said that working from home or having more-flexible hours would help them find work.
- Forty-six percent of women said digital helped them balance their personal and professional lives.
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