Canadian Manufacturing

One in four senior business roles held by women globally, Grant Thornton reports

The report says that because men and women perceive and respond to risk differently, firms with diverse leadership will benefit from more balanced decision-making

March 8, 2017  by Canadian Staff

TORONTO—One in four senior business roles are now held by women globally, a slight increase from 2016, according to a new report from Grant Thornton International.

To commemorate International Women’s Day, Grant Thornton International issued its annual Women in Business—International Business Report Mar. 8.

The report surveyed 5,500 businesses in 36 countries, and discovered 34 per cent of companies surveyed had no women in senior leadership positions. This is a one per cent increase from 2016. No improvement has been made in this category since 2012.

Eastern Europe leads the way in percentage of senior roles held by women. Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey have seen the most improvement.


When it comes to the types of leadership roles held by women, HR director makes up the largest proportion at 23 per cent. CFO, 19 per cent, and CEO, 12 per cent, follow closely behind.

The report highlights some of the challenges associated with continuing to diversify executive positions, such as “diversity fatigue”. Once corporations have made certain strides in promoting women to senior roles, there is a danger of becoming complacent, thinking they’ve done enough, and shifting priorities elsewhere.

A lack of mentorship is also singled out as a barrier to women advancing in the workplace.

Shedding stereotypes is another major hurdle businesses still need to overcome. Viewing female leadership as risk adverse or overly emotional can lead companies into a world of trouble.

These problem can be combated through formal programs, but executives questioned in the report believe the best way to lead the charge on diversity is from the very top of an organization’s structure. If executives aren’t serious about diversity, it won’t have much of a chance to flourish.

Changing attitudes about the best way to lead, and accommodating different management styles will also help foster diversity, according to the report.

The report argues that men and women perceive and respond to risk differently, so firms with diverse leadership will benefit from more balanced decision-making.

Grant Thronton Canada has put these lessons to work, being named one of the 2017 Best Workplaces for Women in Canada, on Mar. 6.

This distinction was bestowed by Great Place to Work Canada, a research institute dedicated to employee welfare.

Grant Thronton Canada’s workforce is made up 59.3 per cent women.

“We’re so honoured to receive this award,” said Kevin Ladner, executive partner & CEO, Grant Thornton Canada. “Enabling an environment where everyone has equal opportunity is essential. We want all of our people to succeed in what they do every day, in turn providing excellent service to our clients and each other, as peers and colleagues.”

Read the full report here.

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