A woman leader is standing up and speaking to a team of colleagues who are sitting down in a brightly lit office.
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Global study suggests women account for just 19pc of leadership teams

17 Nov 2020

A leadership diversity report from BoardEx claims that not enough women are being promoted to roles that would help them gain experience for C-suite positions.

A new study from people intelligence consultancy BoardEx suggests that women account for only 19pc of leadership team positions around the world. The research, carried out with executive search firm Odgers Berndtson, looked at almost 15,000 leadership positions in companies across 26 countries.

The Global Leadership Team Gender Diversity Report found that few women at leading organisations were being promoted to jobs in which they could develop enough experience to advance to the C-suite. At the companies studied, women accounted for 19pc of leadership team roles on average, with levels ranging from 4pc to 27pc.

Author of the report and chief data officer at BoardEx, Dominick Sutton, said the results were “disappointing”. He explained that more women can be found in “specific functions”, accounting for 60pc of HR and 37pc of legal positions on average. But those job functions accounted for only 6pc and 8pc of leadership team headcounts, respectively.

General management positions accounted for almost half of leadership teams, but only 11pc of these roles were held by women.

Global differences

Some countries fared better in terms of leadership diversity, according to the BoardEx report. Companies in Australia had the highest proportion of women in leadership teams (27pc), followed by Malaysia (22pc), South Africa (22pc), the US (21pc) and the UK (21pc).

In line with the study’s average, Ireland’s leadership teams were 19pc women.

When it came to boards, France and Sweden had the highest number of women (43pc and 37pc, respectively). That figure was 27pc for Ireland, while the lowest was seen in Japan (9pc).

In Ireland, the sectors with the highest number of women were HR (60pc), legal (50pc) and property and purchasing (38pc). General management accounted for 41pc of leadership roles in the country, but women made up just 9pc of these positions. The next biggest sector for leadership roles was finance, where 12pc of positions were held by women.

Kester Scrope, CEO of Odgers Berndtson, said that building a gender-diverse leadership pipeline across the globe is “both a moral obligation and good business sense”.

“The best headhunters can identify diverse candidate pools to ensure clients have access to as broad a slate of people as possible,” Scrope said.

“This is particularly important for the roles that most often lead to a seat at the top table and is essential for building high-performing leadership teams and cultures that have the skillset mix to stay ahead of competitors.”

Lisa Ardill
By Lisa Ardill

Lisa Ardill joined Silicon Republic as senior careers reporter in July 2019. She has a BA in neuroscience and a master’s degree in science communication. She is also a semi-published poet and a big fan of doggos. Lisa briefly served as Careers Editor at Silicon Republic before leaving the company in June 2021.

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