Opening the door to diverse talent
Welcome to the 2022 report on our research into the position
of women in senior management across the world, and the
progress towards gender parity in leadership.
Our 2021 Women in Business report identified the window of opportunity that post-pandemic working practices could create for women to move into senior roles. In the wake of the pandemic, as economies slowly recover and businesses refine altered ways of working, that trend looks set to continue.
In our 2022 research, we see businesses taking deliberate, necessary action to create more inclusive working practices. They are prioritising employee engagement and opening the door to allow female talent access to senior positions in greater numbers than ever before.
“It is essential for companies to become more equal,” says Anna Johnson, CEO of Grant Thornton Sweden. “It is a requirement for being attractive to both customers and employees. Gender equality is something we as leaders must prioritise every day, in every decision we make.”
These proactive policies have resulted in an overall increase in the proportion of women in senior management around the globe, rising from 31% of top leadership positions in 2021 to 32% today. Over the last decade, we have seen that figure increase by 11 percentage points, up from 21% in 2012.
'Across industries and sectors, we are seeing the hybrid and remote working models positively impact on this, introducing greater flexibility to progress in ways that did not exist previously; but this progress is not certain into the future and this research reflects the work yet to be done to advance more equal and diverse boardrooms.
COVID forced us to conquer a fear of flexible working - that staff would be less productive, and that not playing the 'presenteeism' game would impact on our careers. We must not simply revert to old ways of doing business but instead drive on to embed work practices that enable people to maintain this flexibility.’
Partner - Head of Insurance
The Women in Business report revealed two-fifths (42%) of women in senior management roles in Ireland are in human resources director roles; some 35% are in chief finance officer (CFO) roles; and, some 23% are in CEO or managing director roles.
'The opportunity to completely rethink working practices and to be able to demonstrate that this can add to working structure options without impacting on output and job satisfaction was a rare and positive outcome of the pandemic. With the majority of companies and staff now looking to maintain hybrid working this takes away the need for women to be seen to stand alone in looking for this.
There is a note of caution though, if the pandemic led more women to leave senior executive positions, we need to understand why they felt this was their best option. We cannot let progress in gender diversity at more junior levels be undone by losing women leaving the executive world when they achieve senior positions.'
Partner – Financial Services
'The hybrid model of working has created more ‘trust’ between employer and (all) employees – people are measured on effective quality output and delivery, rather than hours in the office. Given the belief that flexible working arrangements specifically benefit women’s careers, the regression in the percentage of senior management roles held by women in Ireland (down from 33% to 30%) is surprising.
This might be reflective of the work on quantitative diversity policies rather than a focus on establishing an inclusive organisational culture to ingrain these polices. To create meaningful change, this cultural tone must be set by those at the top, and cascaded throughout the business.'
Partner - Financial Services Advisory
'It is great to see with the accelerated adoption of hybrid working (due to COVID), that 71% of businesses believe this new model will create greater opportunities for women.
However my concern would be that companies see this new hybrid way as the main mechanism to ensuring and sustaining a more diverse workforce. The efforts made, to date, to achieve a more gender balanced workforce need to be given just as much, if not more of a priority, as there is a still a need for more diversity in the boardroom and at senior management level.'
Partner - Audit and Assurance