PwC study: The pandemic's impact on social tensions, gender and ethnicity

The pandemic illuminated racial inequities and social tensions around the world. It also reversed progress toward gender equality, as many more women than men have left the labour market over the past year, said a recent report by PwC.

At the same time, many younger workers are not being given opportunities to rise in an organisation. According to 50% of workers, they have faced discrimination at work, which led to them missing out on career advancement or training. Nearly, 22% were passed over because of their age - with younger workers just as likely as older people to be affected.

The report that interviewed 32,517 members of the general public across 19 countries also found that 13% reported missing out on opportunities as a result of ethnicity, 13% report discrimination on the basis of social class or background, and 14% of workers have experienced discrimination on the grounds of gender, with women twice as likely to report gender discrimination as men.

Around 13% report discrimination on the basis of social class or background.

The report added that there’s a real need to open up genuine, fully inclusive conversations about how to build more diverse and purpose-led workplaces. Companies need to ask tough questions and really consider the answers they’re getting.

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PwC added that a diverse workforce and deliberate inclusion efforts help drive better outcomes - through different perspectives, creative thinking, and open collaboration - that can lead to the broader economic development of our society, which benefits everyone.

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Moreover, people today want to work for purpose-driven companies. Around 75% of respondents say they want to work for an organisation that will make a positive contribution to society. If forced to choose, 54% say they would choose to maximise income while 46% say they would choose a job that makes a difference over more money. PwC added that a large majority of people want a job with a sense of purpose. This is not just about attracting younger talent as it matters across age scale.

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Reskilling

Overall, 40% of workers successfully improved their digital skills during the pandemic and 77% are ready to learn new skills or completely retrain. A majority of respondents see this as a matter of personal responsibility. Nonetheless, younger people are twice as likely as older people to get opportunities to improve skills, and people in cities are one and a half times as likely as people in towns.

Approximately 49% of respondents are focused on building entrepreneurial skills with an interest in setting up their own business, a trend most prominent in Saudi Arabia (82%), South Africa (82%), India (79%), and Qatar (79%).

In one of the pandemic’s positive surprises, people who were given the chance proved they could transition quickly to remote work while keeping productivity high.

Where access exists, workers are keen to reskill as needed, but disparities in access to training remain, said PwC. Those who most need digital skills are still the least likely to get them and, if this trend continues, we risk widening the digital divide. Leaders need to create more inclusive opportunities to upskill.

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE’s Adland's Diversity & Inclusion Index recognises Asia's change-makers who are pushing the boundaries and cultivating a culture for tomorrow. Nominate case studies of your D&I initiatives for workforce in Asia today!

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