A window of opportunity
For 17 years, Grant Thornton has been tracking the global progress of women in senior management. In the last 12 months, unprecedented events have had an unforeseen and unparalleled impact on that progress.
The coronavirus pandemic has driven a fundamental shift in global working practices. It has forced millions into a remote working model. It has exposed weaknesses in supply chains; caused businesses to assess the factors essential to survival; and underlined the mid-market as the beating heart of many sectors, central to keeping economies functioning.
At the same time, expansive popular movements including Black Lives Matter, FareShare and Extinction Rebellion have shone a harsh light on inequalities and exclusion in society and the workplace, and the need for changes to business practices in order to create sustainable growth. Environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues are in the spotlight. And political upheaval has driven expectation for greater diversity and representation at the highest levels. Businesses and their leaders are being held publicly accountable, and the risks for those not truly committed to inclusion are high.
At Grant Thornton, we believe there is now a window of opportunity during which mid-market leaders can accelerate the progress of their businesses into a more inclusive future – or choose to revert to previous models. The benefits of diversity at a senior level include improved financial performance, leveraging talent, reflecting the marketplace and customer perspectives, and increased innovation. All of which will help businesses successfully navigate these uncertain times.
This report outlines the position of women in senior management around the world as we witness the emergence of a more diverse and inclusive leadership model, and highlights the actions leaders need to take in order to create a step change in the proportion of high-level roles held by women.
The Women in Business 2021 Report was published by Grant Thornton, ahead of International Women’s Day. The data for this report is abstracted from The Grant Thornton International Business Report (IBR) which seeks to provide insight into the views and expectations of around 10,000 businesses across 29 economies.
"In a year that saw the appointment of the first female to ever head a major Wall Street bank, with Jane Fraser taking up the reigns as CEO of Citigroup last month. She is a mother who worked part time as a partner in a previous organisation while raising her young family. Announcements like this are huge in terms of the impact of visible high profile role models and keeping the topic of gender diversity front of mind and all done against the backdrop of a global pandemic."