Which occupation has the highest gender imbalance?

International Labor Organization

Geneva (ILO News) - Companies that rely on a gender balance even in management positions perform better and are more profitable. This emerges from a new ILO report by the Bureau for Employers' Questions.

In the new study "Women in Business and Management: The business case for change", more than 12,000 companies from 70 countries were surveyed. More than 57 percent of the companies surveyed confirmed that gender diversity improves business performance. Almost two-thirds of companies that have an active monitoring system for gender diversity in management positions increased their profits by 5 to 20 percent. The majority of companies achieved growth of 10 to 15 percent.

Almost 57 percent of the companies surveyed stated that they had seen an improvement in the acquisition and retention of skilled workers. More than 54 percent reported internal company performance increases in the areas of creativity, innovation and entrepreneurial openness. At the same time, the company's external image improved. Almost 37 percent also assume that they will be able to better assess the needs of their customers.

Using data from 186 countries from 1991 to 2017, the macroeconomic effect of a higher female employment rate was also demonstrated: a higher proportion of women in the labor market has a positive effect on a country's economic growth.

"Although we assumed a positive correlation between gender diversity and entrepreneurial success, the present results clearly exceed these expectations," said Deborah France-Massin, Director of the ILO Office for Employers' Affairs. “If we look at how much companies are investing in other areas in the hope of increasing their profits by two to three percent, then they now know what to do. Companies should view gender balance as a fundamental corporate goal and not just a matter of human resources. "

From a proportion of 40-60 percent of the respective gender, one can speak of a balanced gender ratio in management positions. The same applies to the general workforce. According to the report, the positive effects of gender diversity begin when 30 percent of leadership roles are occupied by women. However, almost 60 percent of all companies are below this rate and thus miss out on the positive effects. In addition, in almost half of the companies surveyed, less than every third junior management position is occupied by women, which means that there is less potential for the filling of management positions by existing junior staff and talents.

Almost three quarters of all companies analyzed have regulations on equal opportunities or on diversity and integration. The study clearly shows that concrete measures are required to promote women in strategically important areas of the company.

“Especially in times of a shortage of skilled workers, companies have to make greater use of the highly qualified pool of women,” concludes Deborah France-Massin.
The report identifies key factors preventing women from entering management positions. This includes a corporate culture with a focus on constant availability at any time and any place, which puts women at a greater disadvantage than men due to family responsibilities.

In contrast, measures and corporate strategies should be strengthened that promote the compatibility of work and family or private life for both genders, e.g. flexible working hours and parental leave.

Another factor is circumscribed as the “leak in the pipeline” - the proportion of women decreases with each higher management level. The “glass ceiling” stands for the frequency with which women occupy management positions in human resources, finance or administrative areas that are considered to be less strategic and make the way to the highest management level and board level difficult.

Less than a third of the companies surveyed have reached the critical mass of one third women in their boardrooms. One company in eight said that their board of directors is still exclusively male. More than 78 percent have male managing directors, with women managing directors being more likely to be found in smaller companies.

"The economic argument for more women in management is convincing," said France-Massin. “Women provide a considerable pool of talent that companies do not make sufficient use of today in times of a shortage of skilled workers. Companies that want to be successful in the global economy should implement gender diversity as a key factor in their business strategy. Employers organizations and federations need to lead by example, ensuring effective strategies and their effective implementation.

Promoting women in business and management