In the run up to International Women’s Day this weekend, the International Business Report 2015 has been released, detailing the success of gender diversity around the globe. The results may surprise you…
Grant Thornton recently released its International Business Report 2015, revealing that Australia and New Zealand are falling behind globally when it comes to empowering the female workforce.
In the Asia-Pacific region – which includes Australia and New Zealand – just 20% of senior roles are held by women.
In fact, New Zealand falls into the bottom 10 globally, with 19% of the nation’s senior leadership roles being held by women. Australia failed to make the top 20, with just 22% of the nation’s senior leaders being female.
Eastern European countries led the way, with Russia coming out on top – 40% of Russian senior leadership roles are held by women.
Georgia, Poland, Latvia and Estonia followed, with each country having at least 35% of senior roles occupied by the female workforce.
The report also found that women are most likely to be employed as their company’s HR director than any other C-suite role; 27% of women in senior management held this position.
Globally, 19% of women cited gender bias as a barrier to their career progression. In the Asia-Pacific region, 17% of women saw it as an obstacle.
Grant Thornton had the following suggestions for organisations looking to increase the number of women in senior leadership roles:
- Make a top-level commitment to support women leaders
- Redesign leadership positions to be more attractive
- Invest in mentoring and build role models
“Clearly there is no magic wand, but Australia can learn a lot from Eastern Europe and some of the recommendations set out in our report – including changing societal norms around the role of women and eradicating gender bias – are directly drawn from what is working well in the region,” said Nicole Bradley, head of diversity and partner at Grant Thornton.
Bradley suggested that Eastern European countries were successful due to a mixture of historical, political and societal factors – including the Communist regime’s focus on parity for all.
“Gender and culture diversity creates a high performing culture, which leads to better outcomes, innovation, creativity and ultimately allows the delivery of the best solutions to help businesses achieve their strategic plans,” she added. “The trends revealed in the report therefore present real challenges not just for businesses but for government, society and women too. Society must adjust to changes in the way we live and work; for example, the stigmatisation of men who choose to stay at home for family reasons must end.”
“At Grant Thornton, we are working at creating an environment that supports diversity from the top down not because it is the right thing to do but because we believe in its strategic importance,” Bradley said. “It is clear that businesses across the board still have a long way to go to create a more level playing field at the top which will ultimately result in better growth opportunities for all.”
The top ten nations for women in senior leadership positions are:
- Russia – 40%
- Georgia – 38%
- Poland – 37%
- Latvia – 36%
- Estonia – 35%
- Lithuania – 33%
- France – 33%
- Armenia – 29%
- Sweden – 28%
- South Africa – 27%
- Japan – 8%
- German – 14%
- India – 15%
- Brazil – 15%
- Argentina – 16%
- Botswana – 16%
- Netherlands – 18%
- New Zealand – 19%
- Indonesia – 20%
- Nigeria – 21%