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More Women in Management Positions Over Last 20 Years

UNITED NATIONS, Jan 12 2015 (IPS) - A global report on “Women in Business and Management,” released Monday by the International Labour Organization (ILO), shows that the number of women in senior and middle management positions has increased over the past 20 years. In 80 of the 108 countries for which ILO data is available, the proportion of women managers has increased during this period.

The findings are the results of a 2013 ILO survey of more than 1,200 companies in Africa, Asia and Pacific, Eastern and Central Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean. The survey was carried out with the assistance of national employers’ organisations in 39 countries.

Jamaica has the highest proportion of women managers at 59.3 percent, while Yemen has the least with 2.1 percent. The U.S. is 15th in the list of 108 countries with 42.7 percent women managers, the U.K. 41st (34.2 percent) and the Russian Federation holds the 25th place (39.1 percent), according to the report.

Today, women own and manage over 30 percent of all businesses, but they are more likely to be found in micro and small enterprises. The report underlines the fact that getting more women to grow their businesses is not only critical for equality but also for national development.

“Our research is showing that women’s ever increasing participation in the labour market has been the biggest engine of global growth and competitiveness,” said Deborah France-Massin, Director of the ILO Bureau for Employers’ Activities, in a press release.

Nevertheless women continue to be shut out of higher level economic decision-making as France-Massin explains: “It is critical for more women to reach senior management positions in strategic areas to build a pool of potential candidates for top jobs such as chief executive officer (CEO) or company presidents. ’Glass walls’ still exist with the concentration of women in certain types of management functions like human resources, communications and administration”.

The report’s statistics show that in the publicly listed companies of the world’s largest stock exchanges, less than 5 percent of CEOs are women. The larger the company, the less likely the head will be a woman. All-male company boards are still common but are decreasing in number, with women attaining 20 per cent or more of all board seats in a handful of countries.

“An increasing number of studies are also demonstrating positive links between women’s participation in top decision making teams and structures and business performance. But there is a long way to go before true gender equality in the workplace, especially when it comes to top management positions, can be achieved,” the report says.

A global survey quoted in the study shows that Norway has the highest global proportion of companies (13.3 percent) with a woman as company board chairperson, followed by Turkey (11.1 percent).

As for African countries, Ghana occupies 26th place with 39 percent, followed by Botswana ranking 28th (38.6 percent).

In Asia, the highest ranking country is the Philippines in 4th place (47.6 percent), followed by Mongolia with 41.9 percent in 17th place.

With 53.1 percent, Colombia holds the second place at the global level and ranks first in Latin America, followed by Panama in fifth place (47.4 percent).

“Unless action is taken, it could take 100 to 200 years to achieve parity at the top. It is time to smash the glass ceiling for good to avoid controversial mandatory quotas that are not always necessary or effective. Having women in top positions is simply good for business,” concluded France-Massin.

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