TORONTO, March 15, 2012 /CNW/ - The proportion of women holding senior
management roles in Canada has declined from 28% in 2011 to 25% this
year, while in Europe, the number is steadily increasing, according to
the latest research from Grant Thornton. On a global basis, 21% of
senior management roles are held by women—barely higher than the level
in 2004. In Canada and around the world, only one in ten businesses has
a female CEO, and 34% of businesses said their company had no women in
senior management at all.
The figures from Grant Thornton's most recent International Business
Report (IBR) reveal that just over one in five (22%) senior management
positions in businesses surveyed in Latin America are held by women,
down from 28% in 2009. Similar falls have been recorded in the Asia
Pacific economies (25% in 2009 down to 19% in 2012), South East Asia
(36% in 2009 down to 32% in 2012) and the BRIC economies (30% in 2009
down to 26% in 2012). In the United States, the number rose slightly
over the past two years to 17%. Despite rising unemployment, the
proportion of women in senior management in Europe has continued to
rise steadily from 17% in 2004 to 20% in 2009 to 24% in 2012, catching
up with peers in emerging markets.
Of those in senior management, women are best represented in finance and
human resources positions. In terms of finance, 13% of businesses have
female Chief Financial Officers, and a further 13% of businesses employ
women in other senior finance roles such as Corporate Controller.
One factor influencing the proportion of women in senior management is
the number of females who are economically active—in other words, how
many women are in the workforce? Female economic activity rates are
fairly mixed, but in Canada, the proportion of female adults in the
labour force is 63%—the highest of any G7 country—even though only 25%
of senior management positions are held by women. There is clearly a
"It's encouraging to see that Canada remains is in the top half of the
country rankings, but we're still not seeing significant change over
time. Getting more women into senior management positions has been high
on the political agenda for quite some time in Europe, where
governments have been vocal about addressing the imbalance with
positive results. The slow pace of growth in Canada is concerning if
Canadian companies—and our economy—are to continue to grow," said Phil
Noble, Executive Partner and CEO, Grant Thornton LLP in Canada.
Of course, women have made progress in the wider workforce over recent
years. Since 1970, the proportion of women in the mature market
workforce has risen from 48% to 64%.1 Why is this important to continue to push the agenda beyond mere
participation in the workforce and focus on women in management?
Research has shown that stronger stock market growth is more likely to
occur where there are higher proportions of women on senior management
teams.2 Mixed gender boards are thought to show better attention to audit and
risk oversight and control.3 Recent UK research has shown that just one female board member reduced
that businesses chance of folding by 20%.4
"Governments and business leaders need to start working now to address
this decline," continues Noble. "The last thing we want to see is a
race to mediocrity where the proportion of women in senior roles
stagnates for a number of years. There needs to be a public discussion
now about the policies and practices that will enable and encourage
women to continue to progress in the workplace."
Although there is no clear correlation between either flexible working
practices or female economic activity and the proportion of women in
senior management, greater adoption of flexible work arrangements might
allow a greater proportion of women to make senior positions in the
future, reversing the current stagnation. The IBR suggests that
offering flexible working could help reverse this trend in emerging
markets. Nearly two thirds of businesses in the EU (65%), where the
proportion of women in senior management roles is increasing, currently
offer flexible work arrangements. In Canada, 61% of Canadian businesses
offer flexible work arrangements This is well ahead of Latin America
(49%), the BRIC economies (36%) and Asia Pacific (32%).
Biggest winners and losers
Of the 40 economies surveyed, businesses in Russia employ the most women
in senior management (46%), ahead of Botswana, Thailand and the
Philippines (all 39%), whilst Italy ranks highest in Europe (36%).
At the bottom of the table is Japan, where only 5% of senior management
positions are filled by women, below Germany (13%), India (14%) and
Countries with the biggest increase over the past 12 months include
Turkey (25% to 31%), and the United Arab Emirates (8% to 15%), results
that suggest that the wave of economic liberalisation in the Middle
East as a result of the Arab Spring could have boosted the chances of
women in the region reaching the top.
Australia emerges as the country with the highest proportion of female
CEOs, with three in ten businesses led by women, just ahead of Thailand
(29%), Italy (24%) and Argentina (23%).
About Grant Thornton in Canada
Grant Thornton LLP is a leading Canadian accounting and advisory firm
providing audit, tax and advisory services to private and public
organizations. Together with the Quebec firm Raymond Chabot Grant
Thornton LLP, Grant Thornton in Canada has approximately 4,000 people
in offices across Canada. Grant Thornton LLP is a Canadian member of
Grant Thornton International Ltd, whose member firms operate in close
to 100 countries worldwide.
Notes to editors
The Grant Thornton International Business Report (IBR) provides insight
into the views and expectations of 12,000 businesses per year across 40
economies. This unique survey draws upon 20 years of trend data for
most European participants and nine years for many non-European
economies. For more information, please visit: www.internationalbusinessreport.com.
The research is carried out primarily by telephone interview lasting
approximately 15 minutes with the exception of Japan (postal),
Philippines and Armenia (face to face), mainland China and India
(mixture of face-to-face and telephone) where cultural differences
dictate a tailored approach.
Data collection is managed by Grant Thornton International's core
research partner - Experian. Questionnaires are translated into local
languages with each participating country having the option to ask a
small number of country specific questions in addition to the core
questionnaire. Fieldwork is undertaken on a quarterly basis.
IBR is a survey of both listed and privately held businesses. The data
for this release are drawn from interviews with 6,000 businesses across
the globe conducted between November 2011 and February 2012.
The target respondents are chief executive officers, managing directors,
chairmen or other senior executives (title dependent on what is most
appropriate for the individual country) from 40 economies primarily
across five sectors: manufacturing (25 per cent), services (25 per
cent), retail (15 per cent) and construction (10 per cent) with the
remaining 25 per cent spread across all sectors.
Economies included in IBR
Australia, Hong Kong, India, Japan, China (mainland),
Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan,
Association of Southeast Asian
Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam
Brazil, Russia, India, China (mainland)
European Union (EU)
Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece,
Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom
Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, United Kingdom,
United States of America
Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Peru
Denmark, Finland, Sweden
Canada, United States of America
Armenia, Botswana, Georgia, South Africa, Switzerland,
Turkey, United Arab Emirates
Any and all references to Grant Thornton International are to Grant
Thornton International Ltd.
Grant Thornton is one of the world's leading organisations of
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organisations unlock their potential for growth by providing
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Proactive teams, led by approachable partners in these firms, use
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1 "Still struggling", The Economist, http://www.economist.com/blogs/dailychart/2011/11/working-women.
2 Women Matter: Gender diversity, a corporate performance driver, McKinsey & Company (2007)
3 Women on Boards: Not just the right thing, but the 'bright' thing, Conference Board of Canada (2002)
4 Women in the boardroom help companies succeed, Professor Nick Wilson, Leeds University, as reported in The Times, 19 March 2009
Image with caption: "Number of women in senior management falls in Canada, rises in Europe (CNW Group/Grant Thornton LLP)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20120315_C4534_PHOTO_EN_11169.jpg
SOURCE Grant Thornton LLP
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