Preliminary When Women Thrive report shows no future growth seen
in their share of professional jobs
NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The growth of women in the broad professional ranks of Europe’s leading
employers is likely to stall in the years ahead, despite advances they
have made in top executive roles, according to a preliminary report
released today by the consulting group Mercer.
In 10 years, women who work in professional and more senior positions
will make up 37% of those ranks—exactly the same proportion as in 2015,
according to preliminary results in When
Women Thrive, Mercer’s second annual report on the global
outlook for participation, retention, and promotion of women in the
By comparison, the share of women in executive ranks in Europe will rise
from 21% this year to 33% in 2025, the report projects, if organizations
can maintain the momentum observed in the current year. Part of the
reason for the faster trajectory is the corporate focus on hiring women
at senior levels.
“Quotas in Europe have had a big impact in boosting female
representation in senior roles,” said Julia Howes, Principal in Mercer’s
Workforce Analytics practice. “But there’s a disturbing revolving door.
While firms are focused on recruiting women at the top, it doesn’t
appear they’re keeping them…and that could threaten the progress they’ve
made, unless they act now.”
As the European workforce ages, it raises the possibility that more
women will exit the job market to care for the growing elderly
population, the report warns. “Leaders risk failing to develop enough
qualified workers in Europe to deliver on economic growth,” said
Patricia A. Milligan, Global Leader, When Women Thrive at Mercer.
“This is a wake-up call,” said Ms. Milligan. “Leaders should focus not
only on getting women to the C-level, but on making sure their
organizations have the pipeline of women to follow and maintain their
progress with women’s representation.”
Women Thrive shows a similar flattening of opportunity
for women in the United States and Canada. Currently, 39% of positions
at the professional level and above are held by women, a share that will
rise by merely 1 percentage point by 2025, Mercer projects, unless
organizations act to reduce differences between women and men in rates
of hire, promotion, and retention.
By comparison, the share of executive level jobs held by women in North
America will rise from 22% this year to 36% in 2025, Mercer projects.
Part of the reason for the faster trajectory is greater equity between
men and women in promotions to the executive rank, Mercer notes.
“At first glance, it looks like Europe and the US are making great
progress,” said Brian Levine, Innovation Leader, Global Workforce
Analytics at Mercer. “But there’s a weak link: many companies aren’t
focused on ensuring there’s a pipeline of women, nor are they putting
into place the supporting practices and cultural environment critical to
Executive involvement, financial and wellness education for women
Among the key drivers of a successful diversity program, based on
Mercer’s analytics, are engaged, executive leadership focused on
diversity and educational programs tailored to women’s needs. The
research finds that only 59% of leaders and 37% of men in European
organizations are reported to be actively involved in diversity and
On the education front, only 7% of European organizations offer
financial wellness tailored to women and 17% offer gender-specific
health education, despite the fact that such programs help companies to
recruit and retain women.
“If every CEO made diversity a top priority, not only would they
positively impact their growth trajectory, but they would benefit their
economies, communities, and individual families as a result,” said Ms.
Milligan. “There’s no excuse anymore. Just as we’ve seen data and smart
analytics drive improved outcomes on the health and investing fronts,
so, too, can we drive progress on diversity. We’re doing it right now.”
The preliminary report—in advance of the release of the full global
report in January—marks the one-year anniversary of the initial, 2014 When
Women Thrive Report. The new report represents a tripling of
participating organizations—nearly 600 organizations around the world,
employing 3.2 million people, including 1.3 million women. The
preliminary report was previewed in Brussels with diversity leaders and
speakers from Ericsson, Lufthansa Group, Shell, and UBS.
Mercer is a global consulting leader in talent, health, retirement and
investments. Mercer helps clients around the world advance the health,
wealth and performance of their most vital asset – their people.
Mercer’s more than 20,000 employees are based in 43 countries and the
firm operates in over 140 countries. Mercer is a wholly owned subsidiary
& McLennan Companies (NYSE:MMC), a global professional services
firm offering clients advice and solutions in the areas of risk,
strategy and people. With 57,000 employees worldwide and annual revenue
exceeding $13 billion, Marsh & McLennan Companies is also the parent
company of Marsh,
a leader in insurance broking and risk management; Guy
Carpenter, a leader in providing risk and reinsurance intermediary
services; and Oliver
Wyman, a leader in management consulting. For more information,
Follow Mercer on Twitter @Mercer.
Stacy Bronstein, +1-215-982-8025