March 8, 2017
A new report to mark International Women’s Day claims that the proportion of senior business roles held by women in the UK has fallen from 21 percent in 2016 to 19 percent in 2017. The report, based on Grant Thornton’s annual survey of 5,500 businesses in 36 economies, also found that the percentage of businesses in the UK with no women in senior management has also risen from 36 percent in 2016 to 41 percent in 2017. This is still an improvement on other EU countries with a lower proportion of senior roles held by women: Germany (18 percent), UK (19 percent), Greece (20 percent) and Netherlands (20 percent)Globally, the proportion of senior business roles held by women has hit a high of 25 percent. However, the findings suggest that progress is slow, with an increase of only 1 percent compared to 2016. Globally, the proportion of senior business roles held by women increased 1 percent from 2016, but that’s only up 6 percent since start of research 13 years ago, in 2004 (18 percent), showing how little progress has been made over the past decade. The research claims that the countries with the highest proportion of senior roles held by women are Russia (47 percent), Indonesia (46 percent) and Estonia (40 percent). The UK had the fifth lowest proportion of women in senior business roles, with Japan recording the lowest (7 percent) and Argentina second lowest (15 percent).
Sacha Romanovitch, CEO at Grant Thornton UK LLP commented: “It’s encouraging to see that globally we have seen some improvement in the proportion of senior business roles held by women, however it is moving at a painfully slow rate. We know that diversity is central to shaping a vibrant economy in which people and businesses thrive. Diversity means there is a greater variety of ways of thinking opening organisations up to new perspectives. The diversity agenda is all about creating an environment that is conducive to all and what women see of leadership isn’t always that attractive. To this end we need to see a fundamental shift in what leadership looks like and what is expected of people in senior leadership positions. Established notions of leadership are letting women down. The ‘hero model’ of leadership, where the individual commanding must be perfect and the job all-consuming, is still extremely prevalent, whilst more collaborative and inclusive forms of leadership are overlooked. This is a real concern as it suggests businesses are squandering the full potential of their people. Businesses need to re-balance what leadership is to make it attractive to future leaders who expect the role to be interesting, meaningful, flexible and with reasonable reward too.”
Globally, Grant Thornton’s data claims that developing regions continue to lead the charge on diversity with developed economies lagging behind. Eastern Europe performs best, with 38 percent of senior roles held by women in 2017 and just 9 percent of businesses with no women in senior management. Meanwhile, the MINT economies (Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey) saw the most improvement, with the proportion of senior roles held by women rising from 24 percent in 2016 to 28 percent in 2017 and the percentage of businesses with no women in senior management falling from 36 percent in 2016 to 27 percent in 2017. This is a significant contrast to the major economies of the G7, which have remained static at 22 percent of senior roles held by women and 39 percent of businesses with no women in senior management.