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The global fashion business journal

Jul 24, 20241:33am

Women make their way into global leadership: 30% in management positions

That share is the highest since the first edition of the report Women in Business, prepared by Grant Thornton, and the highest increase in history, of five percentage points

Mar 8, 2019 — 10:00am

Women make their way into global leadership: 30% in management positions




Women claim their place in global business leadership. For the first time in history, the female weight in corporate power is already close to 30%, a percentage that is considered the turning point to reach parity. In addition, the barriers that men and women face in accessing top management positions are gradually equalizing, although they continue to highlight the lack of access to development opportunities and family responsibilities outside of work.


The share of women’s power in the working environment stands at 29% this year, according to the latest report Women in Business, prepared by Grant Thornton: for the first time, one out of four members in senior management are women. That is the highest increase since the study began to be conducted in 2004.


In addition, already 87% of the companies have a woman in a senior management position, compared to 75% in the previous year and 65% two years ago. The rise comes now that equality has regained a leading role in the media agenda and, consequently, also in the corporate and political agendas.





In this regard, countries such as the United Kingdom have created a law to equalize wages by gender in the largest companies, although some other main markets have moved backwards. That is the case of the United States, for instance, where the new executive of Donald Trump has suppressed measures aimed at combating job discrimination or the pay gap in recent years.


In fact, the path towards that current 29% has been slow and zigzagging: since the first report in 2010, the weight of women in management positions has barely advanced by ten points, of which five correspond to the increase in the last year.


Moreover, the representativeness of women has also fallen among important companies in the world. Of the 500 largest companies in the United States, according to the Fortune 500 list, only 24 have a woman at the head, compared to 32 in 2017, which was the highest in history. The fall, explained the publication, is due to the fact that more than a third of these women left their jobs.





In Europe, the rate also remains very low. According to the European Institute for Gender Equality, in the European Union only 33 of the 500 largest companies have a woman in the front line, representing a share of only 5.5%, although the boards are already at 32.1%, closer to the target of 40% set by the European Union in 2012.


In the boards of directors of the G20, there is only 17% of women, while in the executive committees they account for 12% of positions. Inequality is still greater when compared to the total volume of university graduates, where they represent 50%.


By regions, the area with the highest female presence in top management is once again Eastern Europe, where almost one third of the leadership positions are occupied by women, three percentage points higher than the global figure. It is followed by Africa, where 94% of the companies have at least one woman in top management and 31% of the positions are occupied by women executives.






North America also exceeds the threshold of 30%, with 31%, while the European Union stays behind, with 28%, just like Asia Pacific and the Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). At the bottom of the ranking we find, on the other hand, Latin America and southern Europe, with around 25% of women in management positions.


A long way to go

Despite the progress made in the last year, there is still a long way to go so that women can climb more positions in the corporate organization charts. In fact, the only position they approach at a 50% share is human resources management, from where it is statistically more difficult to be promoted to general management.


In fact, in the position of CEO or general management, only 15% are women, compared to 43% of human resources management or 34% of financial management. In positions such as marketing, operations, commercial or IT, the rate is around 20%.


The barriers to gaining power within companies are increasingly similar between women and men, but they continue to be a majority in aspects such as family responsibilities outside of the work (deducted by 25% of women surveyed, versus 21% of men), and in the lack of access to development opportunities (28% of them, 23% of them).





Among all the main categories highlighted, there are more women (in four of the seven categories) who claim to have had to overcome some obstacle and, in general, they affirm to have faced greater barriers to its professional progress.


Often, the inequality begins even at a lower level: in the moment of signing. Grant Thornton explains that when “a multinational of consumer products redefined its hiring policy to demand lists of candidates that were diverse, the percentage of women in management positions went from 17% to 30% in four years.”


The need to have more women in management positions is not only ethical, but also has an economic impact. According to a report by Boston Consulting Group analyzing 171 German, Swiss and Austrian companies, there is a relationship between the diversity of management teams and the revenue from innovative products and services. In fact, the consultant emphasizes that the results of innovation only improve when more than 20% of management positions are occupied by women.


The economic power is, along with the political, where there is more road to advance. In fact, these are the only two categories in which no country obtains the maximum score of 1 point in the ranking The Global Gender Gap, prepared by the World Economic Forum.

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