Despite the increase in the number of women obtaining leadership roles over the last two decades, women remain underrepresented on boards, in politics, and in leadership roles across industries. If we're to see gender parity then organizations and individuals alike should be aware of these eye-opening statistics regarding women in business.
In 2021, there are a record number of CEOs leading Fortune 500 organizations who are women. They’re chief executives at well-known companies like General Motors, Citigroup, Best Buy, and Oracle. While these achievements are something to celebrate, there is still much work to be done as women only represent 8.1% of the Fortune 500 CEOs.
That’s why we’ve put together this eye-opening collection of statistics to highlight the achievements of women in business and the work that remains to be done.
Women in Business Greatly Contribute to Their Company’s Success
Businesses and individuals around the world are increasingly realizing that when women succeed, we all succeed. In fact, there has been a number of research studies to prove exactly that. Here are some of the key findings:
Companies with the most women in executive positions can potentially deliver share performance and profits that are close to 50% higher than those companies with the fewest - McKinsey
Companies that are focused on gender inclusion and that prioritize the advancement of women reap a variety of benefits - IBM
- They report revenue growth as a much as 61% higher than other organizations
- 60% report they are more innovative than their competitors
- 73% say they are the leaders in their industry in customer satisfaction
In a study of organizations in the UK, it found that greater gender diversity on the executive team corresponded to the highest performance increase: for every 10 percent increase in gender diversity, EBIT increased by 3.5 percent. - McKinsey
Organizations with one or more women on the board delivered higher average returns on equity, lower net debt-to-equity, and better average growth. - Credit Suisse
Women in Leadership
As the number of women holding top leadership roles has grown in the past 10 years, research has been conducted to find out exactly how women in business lead those in their charge. Here are a few highlights that are particularly eye-opening include:
Between 2015 and 2020, the share of women grew from 23 to 28 percent in SVP roles—and from 17 to 21 percent in the C-suite. - McKinsey and Lean In
The proportion of women in senior management positions globally grew to 29%, the highest number ever recorded in 2019. The percentage remained the same in 2020. - Grant Thorton
In 2020, 87% of global mid-market organizations have at least one woman in a senior management role. - Grant Thorton
In 2020, women held 45.4% of all executive positions in the advertising, media, and marketing technology sectors compared to just 29% in 2019. - She Runs It
Employees whose leader is a woman are six percentage points more engaged on average, than those who work for a male manager. - Gallup
Women in management are not only more likely than men to encourage their employees' development, but they are also more inclined to check in frequently on their employees' progress. - Gallup
Men who work for companies with a higher ratio of female executives report being satisfied with their jobs versus men at companies with fewer women in top leadership roles. - IBM
Women have been proven to hold a key advantage in soft skills as one study found that women outperform men in 11 of 12 key emotional intelligence competencies. - Korn Ferry
34% of American workers say that women have an edge over men when it comes to being honest and ethical, while just 3% believe men are better. - Pew Research Center
When it comes to employee engagement, Gallup found women in management outscored men on the following points:
- I know what is expected of me at work.
- I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right.
- At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.
- In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work.
- My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person.
- There is someone at work who encourages my development.
- At work, my opinions seem to count.
- The mission or purpose of my company makes me feel my job is important.
- My associates or fellow employees are committed to doing quality work.
- In the last six months, someone at work has talked to me about my progress.
- This last year, I have had opportunities at work to learn and grow.
The Impacts of COVID-19 on Women in Business
While great gains and findings have been made in recent years, unfortunately, research has found that women, in particular, fared worse in 2020 and 2021 as a result of COVID-19. What’s troubling is that we have yet to realize the full extent to which this will impact women in business.
In the first two months of the pandemic, 1.5 million women in Canada lost their jobs and this has led to unemployment rates as high as 20% among women compared to 13% among their male counterparts. - Randstad
Close to 100,000 working-age Canadian women have completely left the workforce since the pandemic started. - RBC
Wage losses resulting from the pandemic are disproportionately affecting women. In Europe, women are experiencing a total wage loss of about 8.1% compared to just 5.4% for men - International Labour Organization
25% of women are contemplating downshifting their careers or leaving the workforce due to the pandemic. - McKinsey
66% of women aged 18 to 44 are worried about the future of their job during the pandemic. The added stress of COVID-19 has left 33% of women in the workforce considering leaving their current job, in comparison to 19% of men. - Randstad
According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2021, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to be felt, as closing the global gender gap has increased from 99.5 years to 135.6 years to reach parity - World Economic Forum
The Impacts of COVID-19 on Women in Business
According to a 2020 Mercer analysis of over 1,100 organizations across the world, it was found that the pipeline of women in leadership is leaking, with COVID-19 undoubtedly exacerbating the problem:
- Executives: 23%
- Senior managers: 29%
- Managers: 37%
- Professionals: 42%
- Support Staff: 47%
Not to mention, there are a number of outstanding issues and newly arising issues, that individuals, leaders, and businesses as a whole must work to address:
Only 1 in 4 companies are making the advancement of women a top 10 priority. - IBM
According to McKinsey, 20% of women said they were often the only woman, or one of the only women, in the room at work. This was twice as common, 40%, for senior-level women and women holding technical roles. - McKinsey
Much work needs to be done as Women who are "onlys" have a significantly worse experience than women who work with other women, and about 80% of them receive microaggressions, which are verbal and behavioral indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative prejudicial slights and insults. - McKinsey
In a study of the financial services industry, researchers noted a prominent "gender punishment gap.” It was found that following an incident of misconduct, female advisers were 20 percent more likely to lose their jobs and 30 percent less likely to find new jobs relative to male advisers, even though their misconduct was 20 percent less costly and they had a substantially lower propensity towards repeat offenses. - Harvard Business School
Women receive backlash for explicit displays of dominance, although they largely escape such reactions if they display dominance in more subtle and indirect ways. - APA
These gender stereotypes have not disappeared in the United States as women’s roles have changed. Representative U.S. public opinion polls show that the expectation that women are more communal has increased since the mid-20th century, while the expectation that men are more agentic has held steady. - APA
Both men and women discount good news or feedback about their aptitude in subjects that their gender was perceived to have more trouble with. - Harvard Business School
45% of women leaders say it’s difficult for them to speak up in virtual meetings and 20% of women say they’ve felt ignored or overlooked by colleagues during video calls. - Catalyst
While there is a significant amount of work to be done at an organizational and societal level, there are things women themselves can do to develop their presence as leaders in their organizations. How do you do that? One way is through a training program such as Niagara Institute’s very own, Women on the Rise, which covers self-awareness, authenticity, assertiveness, influence, aspiration and goal setting, and accountability, all of which are essential for women in business to succeed today and in the future.
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