Culture of equality a powerful multiplier of workplace innovation: study

A workplace culture of equality is a powerful multiplier of innovation and growth, according to a study from Accenture.

Research found that in Canada an employee’s innovation mindset, defined as a willingness and ability to innovate, is nearly six times higher in companies with a healthy culture of equality. This means a work environment where everyone can advance and thrive. An innovation mindset is stronger in fast-growing economies and in countries with high labour-productivity growth, the study said.

“Accelerating equality in the workplace has never been more critical for driving innovation,” said Ellyn Shook, Accenture’s chief leadership and human resources officer, in a press release. “If people feel a sense of belonging and are valued by employers for their unique contributions, perspectives and circumstances, they’re more likely to advance and feel empowered to innovate.”

Read: Workplace culture touted as beneficial for return to work

The research noted the vast majority of executives around the world agree that continuous innovation is key. Ninety-five per cent saw innovation as vital to competitiveness and business sustainability.

A culture of equality topped out as the most important driver of an innovation mindset in the workplace, more so than industry, country or workforce demographics. Canadian employees in robust cultures of equality are seven times more likely to say nothing holds them back from innovating.

However, the also study found organizations need to close the gap between C-suite executives and employees. Seventy-six per cent of executives said they empower employees to innovate, while just 37 per cent of employees agreed with this.

Read: Mental Health Commission launches toolkit for building inclusive work culture

Globally, the study notes, an employee’s innovation mindset is nearly eight times greater when diversity is combined with a culture of equality. If an innovation mindset in all countries were raised by 10 per cent, the study said that global gross domestic product would increase up to US$8 trillion over 10 years.

“In order to truly thrive, organizations need to be continuously innovating to offset disruptions within their respective industries,” said Claudia Thompson, Accenture’s managing director for health and public service and lead for inclusion and diversity in Canada.