BoardEx Study Shows Women Being Denied Promotions That Lead To Top Roles Like CEO

Gender Diversity
As the need for diverse leadership talent increases, a recent BoardEx study shows women are being denied promotions that lead to top roles, like CEO.

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  • Women only account for 19% of leadership team roles in major markets across the globe.
  • There is a wide range in global female participation levels among leadership teams, from 27% at best to 4% at worst.
  • Leadership team roles are predominantly in General Management, but on average these are only 11% female.

Read the full report here.


A recent study released by BoardEx, a global relationship mapping and executive intelligence service, finds that there are not enough women being promoted to roles that develop the experience necessary for advancement to top C-suite jobs, like CEO.

The Global Leadership Team Diversity Report, available here and brought to you in partnership with Odgers Berndtson, looks at the gender balance of the key job functions of leadership teams from leading organizations across the globe.

The study looked at 14,850 individual leadership roles in companies from the top indices across 26 major countries. A focus of this research centers on the disciplines from which the managers and directors are drawn.

The disappointing results show that there are not enough women in the relevant roles in any country to take sufficient numbers of the top spots in leading global organizations.

“Women may be found in numbers in specific functions, but as a whole they still only amount for a disappointing 19% of leadership team positions,” states Dominick Sutton, the Chief Data Officer of BoardEx and the author of the report. According to the report, women, on average account for 60% of HR and 37% of legal roles across the globe but those job functions only account for 6% and 8% of leadership team headcount, respectively.

In contrast, general management roles make up 44% of leadership teams but are only 11% female. Indeed, if every woman in all the leadership teams within these 26 countries moved into general management, they would still only account for 43% of these key roles.

Higher levels of female representation are not solely a North-West European or North American phenomenon, as significant progress has been found across the globe.

Australia leads the pack, with 27% female leadership teams and Malaysia has 22% female leadership, as does South Africa. The U.S. and the U.K come in a point lower with 21% female representation within their leadership teams. Surprisingly, these are lower than you would see at board level for those countries.

“Building a pipeline of leadership talent that is gender diverse is both a moral obligation and good business sense,” said Kester Scrope, CEO of Odgers Berndtson. “This is where executive search plays a critical role in addressing gender inequality. The best headhunters can identify diverse candidate pools to ensure clients have access to as broad a slate of people as possible. This is particularly important for the roles that most often lead to a seat at the top table and is essential for building high-performing leadership teams and cultures that have the skillset mix to stay ahead of competitors.”

Read the full report here.

This was originally published on PRNewswire. Find the original release here

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Download your free copy of the recently published BoardEx Global Gender Diversity Report.