“The contribution of diversity to corporate performance is well recognised. Promoting constructive challenge by mixing the skills, backgrounds, experience and outlooks of boards and leadership teams is seen to reduce the risk of ‘groupthink’ in decision making. Measuring diversity levels and changes therein remains problematic. The issues of what data would be desirable to capture and measure while strictly adhering to the necessary data safeguards are challenging” Barry Gamble – Report Foreword.
In its Global Gender Diversity Report, BoardEx found the rate of progress in increasing female participation at board level was uneven across different countries. There was also a difference in such progress at executive and non–executive level across all the 26 countries analysed.
The Report also highlights that the gender diversity levels among leadership teams was lower than for boards. The report takes a closer look at these leadership team diversity levels for the same 26 country equity indices, using the top management groups disclosed by the companies themselves along with BoardEx’s database of individual profiles. This data enables an examination of the degree of female representation at the most senior management levels of these corporations.
BoardEx discovered that, in general, the diversity levels for these indices are mostly lower than we found at board level, even for the best performing indices. Australia and Norway have the best leadership team gender diversity ratios, at 27%, whereas Japan comes last at a very poor 4%. This data is further examined to allocate roles to the eight functional disciplines associated with the 14,850 roles in these leadership teams.
These functional disciplines are general management; sales, marketing and public relations; human resources (HR); operations and technical; legal; property, purchasing and other; strategy, corporate social responsibility and investor relations; and finance. The first finding is that 19% of all leadership team roles are held by women but only 11% are in general management.
This is a disappointing result, given that general management has by far the highest percentage of leadership team roles. Women, however, dominate HR and are also strongly represented in legal roles. The suspicion that women are often concentrated in HR roles is well founded as, with the exception of legal, there is no overlap between the HR interquartile range (middle 50%) and any of the other discipline distributions.
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