A window of opportunity
For 17 years, Grant Thornton has been tracking the global progress of women in senior management. In the last 12 months, unprecedented events have had an unforeseen and unparalleled impact on that progress.
The coronavirus pandemic has driven a fundamental shift in global working practices. It has forced millions into a remote working model. It has exposed weaknesses in supply chains; caused businesses to assess the factors essential to survival; and underlined the mid-market as the beating heart of many sectors, central to keeping economies functioning.
These seismic shifts have, inevitably, had repercussions for women in business, their prospects and the challenges they face in the coming months and years. The business landscape appears to be undergoing permanent changes, not least due to the more flexible, hybrid working environments being adopted by many organisations.
Progress towards greater diversity and inclusion, and particularly gender parity in senior management, has in the past decade moved slower than it should. But as a result of the upheavals of the past year, it is both more possible and more important than ever before.
Research studies from 2020 are definitive that women’s employment and career development have both been impacted significantly by the pandemic. But they diverge over whether it has set the gender parity movement back by several years, or if it could prove to be a springboard into senior positions for more women.
At Grant Thornton, we believe there is now a window of opportunity during which mid-market leaders can accelerate the progress of their businesses into a more inclusive future – or choose to revert to previous models. The benefits of diversity at a senior level include improved financial performance, leveraging talent, reflecting the marketplace and customer perspectives, and increased innovation. All of which will help businesses successfully navigate these uncertain times.
The Women in Business 2021 report outlines the position of women in senior management around the world as we witness the emergence of a more diverse and inclusive leadership model, and highlights the actions leaders need to take to create a step change in the proportion of high-level roles held by women.