Happy International Women’s Day 2016 (#IWD16 on Twitter). Now for the bad news. Almost four in ten businesses in G7 countries have no women in senior management positions. Globally, the proportion of senior business roles held by women stands at 24%, up slightly from 22% in 2015…
Happy International Women’s Day 2016 (#IWD16 on Twitter). Now for the bad news. Almost four in ten businesses in G7 countries have no women in senior management positions. Globally, the proportion of senior business roles held by women stands at 24%, up slightly from 22% in 2015. However, this minor uplift has coincided with an increase in the percentage of firms with no women in senior management, at 33% in 2016 compared to 32% last year.
The G7 is “among the worst performing regions, with just 22% of senior roles occupied by women and 39% of companies with no women in senior roles. Two of the worst performing individual countries are Japan, with just 7% senior roles held by women, and Germany, with 15%. This is despite widespread public commitments to equal opportunity and an abundance of research illustrating the commercial benefits of diverse leadership” says Grant Thornton, which today publishes a report based on its annual survey of 5,520 businesses in 36 economies.
As for the United Kingdom- “Despite the publication and recommendations of the Davies Report, a number of high profile speeches and multiple campaigns on gender equality, the U.K. has marginally declined in the last year, with 21% of senior roles now held by women (down from 22% in 2015) and its highest recorded proportion of businesses with no women in senior management at 36%” it says.
Eastern Europe and ASEAN report the highest proportions of women in leadership at 35% and 34% respectively, and just 16% and 21% of firms with no women in senior management respectively. Russia tops the list of individual countries with 45% of senior roles held by women, followed by the Philippines at 39%, where only 9% businesses have no women in senior management.
People release sky-lanterns on the eve of International Women’s Day in Manila on March 7, 2016. The event calls for the end of all forms of discrimination and violence against women and girls. Photo: Noel Celis/AFP/Getty Images
But here is what is really interesting about the producer of this research, Grant Thornton UK LLP. Its CEO is this woman (whom I have met) – Sacha Romanovitch, well portrayed in U.K media coverage here soon after her elevation.
“We know that businesses with diverse work-forces can outperform their more homogeneous peers and are better positioned to adapt to a rapidly changing global business environment. Within the context of increased uncertainty and complexity, firms must resist group-think and welcome a range of perspectives in order to grow and meet the challenges of today” she said, on the research.
This report explores a ‘disconnect’ that seems to exist between how companies approach leadership and what female leaders are actually looking for. It says it “considers the motivations and drivers of female business leaders compared to their male counterparts and makes a number of recommendations for companies looking to promote more diverse leadership.”
Its findings are certainly interesting – and different, compared to what is being churned out in the name of ‘women’ and ‘diversity.’ For example, it finds that earning a higher salary is a bigger driver for women looking for leadership roles than it is for men (28% compared to 21%). Women also appear to perceive leadership skills differently to men. “While communication is seen as the most important attribute of good leaders by both sexes, women are more likely to perceive this skill in terms of listening and engaging in two-way dialogue, while men are more likely to focus on broadcasting messages” it says.
“Communication has for too long been thought of as broadcast; actually it’s all about creating conversation and building community. Companies may recognize the need for female leadership but they must do more to transform their leadership cultures in order to attract women aspiring to senior roles. In order to create more dynamic businesses which support a vibrant economy, we need people from all backgrounds leading them” says Ms Romanovitch.
Also just out from Accenture is an interesting report on digital fluency as the way for women to get ahead. It concludes that if governments and businesses can double the pace at which women become digitally fluent – by which it means access to internet, using social networking, not digital coding – the workplace in developed nations could reach gender equality in 25 years, versus 50 years at the current pace. In developing countries, the workplace could reach gender equality in 40 years says the report, versus 65 years at the current pace.
Bring it on. Both the definition of new leadership and the changing tools of empowerment are essential for change and progress – and for women.
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