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by Vault Consulting Editors | March 08, 2011


In honor of the 100th International Women's Day, research consultants at Grant Thornton have published a report on the status of women in leadership positions at top private companies around the world. Unfortunately, the report itself wasn't cause for much celebration; only 20 percent of these leadership positions were held by women this year, down from 24 percent last year.

The Grant Thornton study, which ran for four months through February 2011, surveyed businesspeople at companies in 39 countries. Thailand emerged as a surprise leader; 45 percent of senior management positions there were held by women. Conversely, the worst numbers came from India and the UAE, where (considerably) less than 10 percent of top jobs were held by women.

Women in the world's biggest economies, represented in the survey by the Group of Seven countries, enjoyed startlingly little success at just 16 percent. The so-called developed economies were further shamed by results that revealed greater percentages of female CEOs in Thailand (30 percent of companies), China (19 percent) and Vietnam (18 percent) than the rest of the world, which languishes at just 8 percent.

Grant Thornton consultants chided businesses for not taking advantage of opportunities to shape more diverse leadership ranks. Bloomberg reports a firm spokesman saying that the recession should have represented "a catalyst for organizations to review how they run their operations and who runs them." Clearly, that hasn't been the case. "Instead of embracing a time for change, many companies will have reverted to a 'play it safe' mentality which has left many companies male-dominated."

Governments typically play a vital role in encouraging better diversity in the private sector, a trend not lost on many today. As reported by the enigmatic Aman Singh in February, the UK is considering new regulations that would require all public companies to aim for—rather than reach a quota of—at least 25 percent female representation across leadership roles. While a positive step, that falls short of more progressive efforts made by countries like Norway, which has required 40 percent female representation in public company boardrooms since 2003. France and Spain have followed Norway's lead in enacting similar legislation recently, and Bloomberg reports that German Chancellor Angela Merkel last week called for national discussions on the same subject.

For more information:
International Women's Day 2011 HQ


Filed Under: Consulting