Women still missing out on top jobs at world's largest companies

Women 'remain scarce in senior management positions', report reveals

International Woman's Day was ushered in triumphantly as Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman to win the Oscar for Best Director. The corporate world managed to take the shine off the success as the World Economic Forum (WEF) released a report criticising businesses around the world for failing to close the gender gap.

This came as the Prime Minister said it was "unacceptable" that there were UK firms without any female board representation and added that if nothing changed "we will need to consider taking more serious action". The WEF yesterday released its Corporate Gender Gap Report, a study into some of the world's largest companies, which found that many had failed to address equal pay and were losing female talent.

Saadia Zahidi, one of the report's authors and the head of the WEF's Women Leaders and Gender Parity Programme, said it sounded an "alarm bell" that companies were not doing enough to combat inequality. "While a certain set of companies in Scandinavia, the US and the UK are indeed leaders in integrating women, the idea that most corporations have become gender-balanced or women-friendly is still a myth," she said.

At 52 per cent, the US has the highest percentage of women employees at all levels, followed by Spain at 48 per cent and Canada at 46 per cent. While India is making progress with equality in its parliament – a third of seats will be reserved for women under a proposed law – women only account for 23 per cent of the workforce. It is closely followed by Japan at 1 percentage point higher.

The UK came in seventh place with women employees making up just under 40 per cent of the workforce. Ruth Sealy, deputy director of the International Centre for Women Leaders, said: "Corporate UK is losing out on intellectual capital. The issue needs to be addressed at every level. To pave the way for more senior women, you have to make sure you don't lose them further down."

Women employees tend to be concentrated in entry- or middle-level positions "and remain scarce in senior management or board positions in most countries and industries" the WEF survey also found. The biggest exception was Norway, where the level of women on the board of directors was above 40 per cent for the majority of respondents, because of government regulations.

Ms Sealy worked on research published in November that found that only 12.2 per cent of FTSE 100 board members were women. "There is a groundswell of opinion that we're getting to the point where it won't sort itself out," she said. "Nobody likes the idea of quotas, as it isn't meritocratic. Yet meritocracy only works with a level playing field. It isn't level in the UK."

Gordon Brown said yesterday: "When more than half of graduates are women, it is completely unacceptable that some of our top 100 public companies have not a single woman on their boards."

Of the 600 companies surveyed by the WEF across 20 countries, fewer than 5 per cent had women chief executives. The top was Finland with 13 per cent in the sample taken. In the UK, the few women chief executives include Dame Marjorie Scardino, the head of publishing company Pearson, Kate Swann at WH Smith, Sly Bailey at Trinity Mirror and Dorothy Thompson at Drax, while Cynthia Carroll is chief executive of London-listed Anglo American. In the US, Irene Rosenfeld is head of Kraft, the food giant that bought Cadbury, and Indra Nooyi is the chairman and chief executive of Pepsi.

Yet, the WEF report said there were simply not enough women executives. It added that barriers to women in top jobs included a "lack of role models". Others included the "general norms and cultural practices" and "masculine or patriarchal corporate culture".

Ms Sealy said there had been "no improvement in the pay gap" with an average 18 per cent difference between men and women. She said that for more senior roles the difference became more stark, rising potentially to 40 per cent. The WEF said that in spite of the pay gaps, 72 per cent of the companies surveyed did not even track the differences.

Klaus Schwab, the founder and executive chairman of the forum, said: "Despite evidence regarding the importance of women's economic integration and even as the global economy's dependence on knowledge industries and knowledge workers grows, country-level data show us clearly that there are still discrepancies between the job opportunities and wages available to women and those of their male counterparts."

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
people
News
Bill Kerr has died aged 92
people
Sport
footballPremiership preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's matches
Arts and Entertainment
Warner Bros released a mock-up of what the new Central Perk will look like
tv'Friends' cafe will be complete with Gunther and orange couch
News
Keira Knightley poses topless for a special September The Photographer's issue of Interview Magazine, out now
people
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
News
i100
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Life and Style
tech
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SAS Business Analyst - Credit Risk - Retail Banking

£450 - £500 per day: Orgtel: SAS Business Analyst, London, Banking, Credit Ris...

Project Manager - Pensions

£32000 - £38000 Per Annum Bonus, Life Insurance + Other Benefits: Clearwater P...

KYC Analyst, Birmingham - £200-£250 p/d

£200 - £250 per day + competitive: Orgtel: KYC Analyst, Key Banking Client, Bi...

Test Manager - Banking - Yorkshire - £450 per day

£400 - £500 per day: Orgtel: Test Manager - Banking - West Yorkshire - £400-£5...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone