Major economies lag in developing female talent


Moving from talk to purposeful action to achieve gender parity

Very few companies around the world have reached 30% women on their boards.

A study by EY and The Peterson Institute found that companies in just five countries have at least 30% senior women executives, and only Norway exceeds the 30% mark for women on company boards. The research also shows that companies with at least 30% women in leadership can achieve up to a 6 percentage point increase in net margin.

The largest global study of its kind, the research focused on data from almost 22,000 publicly traded firms across 91 countries. It found that Bulgaria (37%), Latvia (36%), Philippines (33%), Slovenia (33%) and Romania (32%) have made the most progress toward gender parity in business with the percentage of female executives. The top five countries with the most women on boards Norway (40%), Latvia (25%), Italy (24%), Finland (23%) and Bulgaria (22%).

While gender parity in business varies widely across the globe, most countries are still far below the 30% threshold for women CEOs, women on boards and women executives. In fact, the world's largest economies - United States, China and Japan - don't even reach the top 10 for any of these areas.

The research found that paid paternity leave as a primary caregiver could be a key factor for getting more women into leadership. In countries that are more family-friendly and have greater support for child-bearing and rearing, women experience less disruptions in their careers and are more likely to make it to the top. The research found that the places with the highest percentages of women in leadership, including in the boardroom and at executive levels, offered fathers 11 times more paternity leave days than those who did not fare wwell in the research.

"Companies that advance women into leadership roles are going to have the upper hand, with more engaged workforces, stronger cultures and improved economic performance. We know that gender-balanced companies achieve better results. As business leaders we need to ask ourselves: Have we made enough progress? Are we helping enough women find their way into leadership roles in order to make our businesses better?" says  EY Global Chairman & CEO, Mark Weinberger.

"The current direction and state of gender parity and diversity across all levels of business needs to be changed. At a time where business and government face unprecedented challenges due to technology and disruption, having diverse leadership and management is a necessary and critical tool to survive today. We need our best talent from all areas to bring additional perspectives to complex decision making - now more than ever", says EY's Global Vice Chair - Markets & Chair of Global Accounts Committee, Uschi Schreiber.

EY is calling for people to #PledgeForParity on International Women's Day to accelerate gender equality. EY developed a series of pledges for International Women's Daybased on EY's own experience and research into what helps most to close the gender gap. The pledges provide practical steps that people can take as individuals and within their organisations to advance women in business and the wider community. Pledges can be made on the International Women's Day website and shared on social media using the hashtags #PledgeForParity and #IWD2016.

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