Increase of women in senior management positions stagnates

The number of women in the management of medium-sized companies has remained roughly the same over the past year. According to a study by Grant Thornton, globally, almost 10% of people do not have women on their senior leadership team.

Grant Thornton’s annual International Women’s Day global survey shows that the percentage of women in senior management positions in mid-sized companies has increased by just 0.5% over the past year to 32%.

According to the researchers, progress has been made in the past ten years, but not exactly fast. In 2013, 24% of senior management positions were filled by women. At the current rate, researchers expect the stock to surpass the 34% mark only by 2025.

The report also shows that 9% of mid-sized companies globally still have no women in their senior leadership team.

Monique Pisters, partner at Grant Thornton: “It is clear that the finish line for gender equality in leadership positions is not yet in sight. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. I think women’s role models in leadership positions are an important resource in this marathon. They inspire other women to rise above by showing that it is possible.”

Regional differences

The progress made varies greatly from region to region. Notably, Europe, which claims to have a women-friendly business environment, slowed its progress in 2022, while in regions such as Asia-Pacific and Latin America, the percentage actually approached 40%. In Africa and ASEAN (Partnership of Ten Southeast Asian Nations), the percentage is already 40%.

While progress stagnated in Europe, the share of women in senior management positions saw a significant drop to 31%. Although companies in both western regions speak wholeheartedly in favor of greater gender equality, they struggle to put their money where their mouth is.

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More women in other CxO positions

One of the bright spots of the 2023 edition of the survey is that women are increasingly involved in boardrooms. Women typically hold roles such as CHRO or HR Director. Although these are still the most common managerial roles for women, a change is visible here.

Last year, Grant Thornton concluded that women are increasingly filling the CFO or CEO position, and this version of the study shows that this expansion is continuing. In 2019, 15% of companies had a female CEO, and that percentage has now nearly doubled to 28%.

Female CIO positions increased from 16% to 23% during the same period. There are also more female chief operating officers (COOs, 38%) and chief financial officers (CFOs, 25%).

Corporate environment

Grant Thornton’s research focused entirely on mid-sized companies, but the corporate segment also shows a similar picture.

Research by Talent to the Top, an advocate for top women in our country, shows that the role of leading women in large (listed) companies has increased in recent years, but with (very) small steps. The share of women in top positions is around 33% across the board and 37% among directors.

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