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International Business report (IBR)

Women in senior management

Setting the stage for growth

Our annual look at the proportion of senior management roles held by women found a slight increase in 2013, led by China. Combining results from more than 6,600 interviews for our International Business Report with insights gained from in-depth interviews with five senior female executives from around the world, this report looks at the role of education in improving female participation and how this can help boost business growth.

Globally, women now occupy 24% of senior management roles, which is an increase of three percentage points from last year. Women in China seem to have the greatest chance of getting a seat in the boardroom, filling 51% of the most senior posts.

At the other end of the spectrum, this year’s research found companies in the G7 have the lowest levels of gender equality, with just 21% of senior management posts held by women.


Other key findings from the report

  • The proportion of businesses employing women as CEOs has risen from 9% to 14%
  • 67% of respondents offer some form of flexible working arrangement
  • 55% oppose quotas to increase women’s participation in boards


The flexible working debate

With so much talk of flexible working, could this be the answer to empowering women to progress in their careers? Surprisingly, this way of working seems to have a limited impact on the numbers of women reaching the boardroom. Some 72% of businesses in the G7 countries offer this option, compared with 27% in China, which is top of the table for numbers of women in senior management.


Further information

Read more about our survey methodology here.