Women in business: beyond policy to progress

The last year has seen global business take one step forward but one step back when it comes to gender diversity in leadership. The percentage of businesses around the world with at least one woman in senior management has increased significantly, rising from 66% to 75% in the last year. But at the same time the proportion of senior roles held by women has marginally declined.

This suggests that businesses may be focused on ticking the ‘diversity’ box to avoid an all-male leadership team, rather than creating an inclusive culture that leads to a genuinely diverse senior management team. While it’s hugely positive that women are in senior roles at more businesses, it’s disappointing that they are being spread so thinly. This means many businesses will not gain from the benefits of real diversity.

Given this trend, we set out to understand the role of policy in bringing about positive change and in countering cultural norms and unconscious bias that can hinder progress. Somewhere, good intent is not turning in to real action.