Research reveals that women are under represented in top jobs around the world

by Ray Clancy on February 25, 2016

Female expats who have accompanied their family abroad can find it hard to continue a career of their own with new research showing that in the professional and managerial world they are under represented.

Indeed, if leading companies maintain the current rate of progress, female representation will reach only 40% globally in the professional and managerial ranks in 2025, according to a global report from Mercer’s.

The research found that although women are 1.5 times more likely than men to be hired at the executive level, they are also leaving organisations from the highest rank at 1.3 times the rate of men, undermining gains at the top.


“Quotas and targets in the UK and Europe have had a big impact in boosting female representation in senior roles. But in this region in particular there is a disturbing revolving door,” said Julia Howes, principal at Mercer.

“While organisations are focused on recruiting women at the top, they are not developing them from within with the same focus and that could threaten the progress they’ve made, unless they act now,” she added.

According to the report, women make up 40% of the average company’s workforce. Globally, they represent 33% of managers, 26% of senior managers, and 20% of executives.

In terms of regional rankings, Latin America is projected to increase women’s representation from 36% in 2015 to 49% in 2025, followed by Australia and New Zealand moving from 35% to 40%, the United States and Canada improving by just 1% from 39% to 40%, Europe remaining flat at 37% in 2015 and 2025 and Asia ranking last at 28%, up from just 25% in 2015.

The research, the most comprehensive of its kind featuring input from nearly 600 organisations around the world, employing 3.2 million people, including 1.3 million women, identifies a host of key drivers known to improve diversity and inclusion efforts.

“It’s not enough to create a band-aid programme. Most companies aren’t focused on the complete talent pipeline nor are they focused on the supporting practices and cultural change critical to ensure that women will be successful in their organisations,” said Brian Levine, Mercer’s innovation leader for global workforce analytics.

Only 9% of organisations surveyed globally offer women focused retirement and savings programmes with the US and Canada ranking first at 14%, despite Mercer’s research proving that such efforts lead to greater representation of women.

The US and Canada also lead on pay equity, with 40% of organisations offering formal pay equity remediation processes, compared to 34% globally, 25% in Asia, and 28% in Europe. But virtually no improvements have been made since 2014.

About half of organisations in three key regions, Asia, US and Canada and Latin America agree that supporting women’s health is important to attract and retain women yet only 22% conduct analyses to identify gender specific health needs in the workforce.

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