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International Business Report (IBR)

Women in Business 2020

Putting the Blueprint into practice

Over the last 12 months, our women in business research has drilled down into the gender diversity stats of mid-market organisations around the world, looking at how the numbers are changing, and most importantly, what businesses are doing to make them change.

Women in Business 2020: Putting the Blueprint into practice highlights the global trends where numbers appear to be leveling out, the success stories in regions such as Latin America and Africa where good progress is being made, and the senior roles most likely to be held by women. It also draws out the most popular gender equality initiatives being put in place, many of which mirror the recommendations made in our 2019 Blueprint for Action.

The Global View

Proportion of women in senior management globally over the last 16 years

  • The percentage of women in senior management in 2020 is almost exactly the same as last year.
  • The proportion of companies with at least one woman in senior management around the world has remained steady, sitting at 87%.
  • 2019 saw an increase, so our data represents a leveling off of prior progress. This could be on the back of the wave of attention caused by #MeToo and gender pay gap reporting.
Regional Successes

Top five regions by proportion of women in senior management, 2020 versus 2019

  • There has been a jump in Africa, Latin America, and ASEAN.
  • Last year’s success story Eastern Europe has seen further improvement.
  • Latin America experienced the biggest increase in the proportion of women in senior management, climbing by eight percentage points to 33%.
  • APAC has the lowest figure, with 17% of senior managers in the region being female.
Positions held

Proportion of women in specific roles, 2020 versus 2019

  • 2020 sees an encouraging uptick in women at CEO level but decline at CFO, a position in which women have traditionally been strong.
  • It is possible that the shift reflects a movement within the same sub-set of female directors, winning promotions and moving role from CFO to CEO.
  • Senior women are most likely to work as HR director, and least likely to be a partner at a business, with just 7% of partners being female.
The Blueprint in Action

Most common actions being taken by businesses around the world to achieve gender parity

  • Ensuring equal access to developmental work opportunities and creating an inclusive culture are the most popular initiatives aimed at improving gender diversity at 34%.
  • Offering unconscious bias training is the least common initiative.
  • All actions have increased in popularity since 2019, with linking senior management reward to progress on gender diversity rising the most in the last year.
  • Despite all these positive initiatives, 22% of businesses globally still take no action to ensure gender diversity.