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Diversity in decision-making

Women in business on the rise, but gap remains large


There was much cause for optimism in our annual look at women in business through the International Business Report (IBR). The survey reveals that the proportion of women in senior management roles has climbed to 24% (up from 21% in 2012), back up to levels seen before the financial crisis. Good news and certainly a step in the right direction.

But there is clearly much left to be done. The result still means that fewer than a quarter of top jobs are held by women, falling to below a fifth for board positions (19%).

It was fascinating to read in our IBR report about the barriers leading businesswomen around the world face and what they are doing in their own organisations to boost diversity. Many of those we spoke with cite the cultural barriers that exist in their economies and so it was somewhat ironic to see emerging economy businesses leading mature economy peers on this measure.

Of course we don’t know whether faster growth in these economies is a cause or a symptom of elevated levels of women in senior management. But diversity improves decision-making. And better decisions mean faster growth

The results should be a real wake-up call for business leaders in Europe, the United States and Japan.

Francesca Lagerberg is global leader for tax services at Grant Thornton.