United States trails much of world with representation of women in business leadership

Proportion of senior roles held by women in U.S. and percentage of
American businesses with no women in senior management remain unchanged

CHICAGO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–On International Women’s Day, a new report based on Grant Thornton
International Ltd.’s annual survey of 5,500 businesses in 36 economies
reveals the United States continues to lag much of the world when it
comes to the proportion of women in senior business roles.

The report, Women
in Business: New perspectives on risk and reward
, reveals
that the global proportion of senior business roles held by women has
reached a high of 25 percent. However, the figure is an increase of just
one percent from 2016, and has only improved six percent in the 13 years
since the research began. This progress, while slow, outpaces the United
States, which saw no year-over-year change.

Key U.S. findings from the report include:

  • The proportion of senior roles held by women remained the same at 23
    percent, which is up only 3 percent since the start of the research 13
    years ago;
  • The percentage of businesses with no women in senior management
    remained unchanged at 31 percent;
  • Human resource director (27 percent), chief financial officer (16
    percent), chief marketing officer (10 percent) and chief operating
    officer (10 percent) are the most common senior business roles for
    U.S. women; and
  • The percentage of women holding the role of chief executive officer
    increased from 5 to 9 percent year over year.

The lack of significant progress to increase the number of women in
senior executive roles in recent years is concerning,” said Pamela
Harless, chief people & culture officer of Grant Thornton LLP. “There’s
no shortage of data on the rational business case for increasing women’s
representation, but leaders are far more effective when they advance the
conversation from a place of real passion and by holding themselves
accountable for creating an inclusive and diverse environment.”

Global diversity

Grant Thornton’s global report shows that developing regions continue to
outperform developed economies in terms of diversity in senior
management. Eastern Europe performed best, with 38 percent of senior
roles held by women in 2017, up from 35 percent in 2016, and the
percentage of businesses with no women in senior management falling from
16 percent in 2016 to just 9 percent in 2017. Meanwhile the MINT
economies (Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey) saw the most
improvement, with the proportion of senior roles held by women rising
from 24 percent in 2016 to 28 percent in 2017 and the percentage of
businesses with no women in senior management falling from 36 percent in
2016 to 27 percent in 2017.

Evaluating risk

The report also explores the role of gender when it comes to managing
the threat and seizing the opportunity for growth that risk can bring.
The findings illustrate that men and women see risks and opportunities
through a different lens, which provides a diversity of thinking when
combined together. Data from the report reveals that women overall see
lower levels of risk when considering aspects of organizational and
commercial life such as political or economic change, as well as lower
levels of opportunity.

Men tend to consider whether taking a risk will facilitate strategic
growth, whereas women focus more on the wider environment and the impact
on people,” added Harless. She explains that strategic risk is often
better publicized and more highly regarded, so “while women may be
taking as many risks, they do so in areas that aren’t as visible.”

The full report Women in Business 2017: New perspectives on risk and
is available at www.internationalbusinessreport.com

Notes to editors

The Grant Thornton International Business Report (IBR) launched in 1992
initially in nine European countries now provides insight into the views
and expectations of more than 10,000 businesses per year across 36

Data collection

Data collection is managed by Grant Thornton’s core research partner,
Millward Brown. Questionnaires are translated into local languages with
each participating country having the option to ask a small number of
country specific questions in addition to the core questionnaire.
Fieldwork is undertaken on a quarterly basis. The research is carried
out primarily by telephone.


IBR is a survey of both listed and privately held businesses. The data
for this release is drawn from interviews with 5,506 chief executive
officers, managing directors, chairmen or other senior executives from
all industry sectors conducted between October and December 2016.

About Grant Thornton LLP

Founded in Chicago in 1924, Grant
Thornton LLP
(Grant Thornton) is the U.S. member firm of Grant
Thornton International Ltd, one of the world’s leading organizations of
independent audit, tax and advisory firms. Grant Thornton, which has
revenues in excess of $1.6 billion and operates 59 offices, works with a
broad range of dynamic publicly and privately held companies, government
agencies, financial institutions, and civic and religious organizations.

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of Grant Thornton International Ltd (GTIL). GTIL and the member firms
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Grant Thornton LLP
Kate Hollcraft

E press@us.gt.com