Exclusive: Accenture Pledges to Boost its Workforce to 50% Women by 2025

Jun 14, 2017

Accenture (acn) pledged Wednesday that it will achieve a fully gender-balanced workforce by 2025.

The professional services giant is already well on its way; in March the company set a goal to reach 40% female in the U.S. by 2020.

Accenture's aggressive stance on workforce transparency has set the company apart from its competitors. In early 2016, it released a demographic breakdown of its U.S. employees for the first time—becoming the first of the major professional services firms to do so.

"We believe that transparency builds trust and helps us collaborate better with not only our own people, but also our clients and communities to advance our objectives," Ellyn Shook, chief leadership and human resources officer at Accenture, tells Fortune. "When you publish a goal, it holds you accountable to a higher level."

Accenture currently employs 150,000 women globally. In 2016, the company says that women accounted for 20% of its managing directors and 30% of promotions to the MD level. It aims to grow the share of female managing directors to 25% by 2020.

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Shook says the company will regularly assess and rebalance its workforce as it acquires new businesses; Accenture has already acquired 19 companies in fiscal 2017.

The company credits its slow-but-steady progress to its willingness to experiment with how it attracts, advances, and sponsors women. Among the strategies it's employed: a sponsorship program that connects senior women with two sponsors from the global management committee, a referral program that rewards employee who refer women, blacks, Hispanics, and veterans who are hired with a bonus, and a 16-week paid maternity leave policy.

To truly transform the composition of a company's workforce, says Shook, organizations must focus on "really finding the disruptive actions you can take to accelerate the pace of change."

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