Where in the World are the Women?

Data about women in the global workforce tells a compelling story about the gender gap.  Global corporations now make up over half of the largest economies in the world and global N.G.O.’s (non government organizations) now wield substantial influence in global affairs and often have budgets matching the GDPs of some small countries

Women make up just over 40 percent of the global workforce.1   However, only 12 Fortune 500 companies and 25 Fortune 1000 companies have women CEOs or presidents.2  Women account for only about 10 percent of board directors in Europe’s top 300 companies. And more than two-thirds of the 101 largest firms have no women on their executive committees.  So, where in the world are the approximate 37% of women?

One proven way of accelerating a career is through international experience.  “Gaining experience in different geographies continues to be seen as an essential part of career growth in many international firms.”  As per Deloitte & Touche, a global consulting leader, “International assignments typically are used to fill specific needs in other countries. Yet companies often struggle with finding ways to create a bench of truly global leaders.”  In looking at the bench it is quite apparent that women are underrepresented. 

The next generation of leader is characterized as having a global mindset and increased workforce diversity among other things.  These characteristics are learned, practices and developed rapidly in international roles, yet women only represent about 18% of expatriate roles.  So, once again, I can’t help but ask, “where in the world are the women?”

Many are taking notice of the gender gap and currently some European countries, such as Germany, where Caroline & I currently reside, are considering instituting quotas in order to increase the number of women in leadership roles.  Critics of the quota system believe that gender quotas appear discriminatory against men, are difficult to institute b/c of differing definitions of “manager level”, difficulty in finding qualified women, and also take the attention off fixing the “real problems”, such as “full-day schooling, reforming the labour market and providing more nurseries.”3  Advocates of the quota system believe that quotas will quickly impact the percentage of women in “the boardroom” and cite that it has worked in other countries such as Norway.  As per Time Magazine, in Norway, “company boards went from just 7% female in 2003 to 40% in January 2008.”4  Statistics show that approximately 60% of German graduates are women and many of these women have stated their desire to be actively considered for management roles.  Other European countries are not far behind Germany in considering instituting quotas to increase female representation in managerial roles.

Do you think using quotas to increase the number of women in senior roles will work?  Is it the most effective way to increase the number of women in senior roles?

  1. http://www.ilo.org/dyn/gender/docs/RES/292/f267981337
  2. http://www.infoplease.com/spot/womenceo1.html
  3. http://www.thenational.ae/thenationalconversation/industry-insights/economics/germany-misses-point-on-corporate-gender-quotas
  4. http://www.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,1974109,00.html#ixzz1ZL0Yi38M
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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Sapna November 29, 2011 at 4:44 pm

Thank you very much Brian

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