McKinsey & Company’s Research Report - “Women Matter 2012: Making the Breakthrough”

Since 2007, our Women Matter research has been making the business case for increasing the number of women in senior management roles. Companies need access to the biggest possible talent pool and, we would argue, the different and complementary perspectives and leadership styles that women bring. Indeed, our research has shown a link between the proportion of women on executive committees and corporate performance.

Today, despite the considerable efforts many companies have made, progress in many places is slow. While more women sit on Europe’s corporate boards, it is from a low base and so, in most countries, their representation remains limited…

The results are telling. The vast majority are taking the issue most seriously, devoting precious resources to redressing the gender imbalance. Indeed, 63 percent of companies have at least 20 different initiatives in place as part of their gender diversity programs. Many have made important progress, with training programs established to open the organization’s eye to the value of diversity, recruitment and promotion processes rethought to counter unwitting biases, targets set for the number of women in senior positions and managers made responsible for meeting them, and , in some companies, more women filling senior positions. Some CEOs are tackling the issue with impressive vigor. “It didn’t take long after our new CEO took over and it became clear that gender diversity was on the strategic agenda that four more women took on very senior roles,” said one interviewee…

But despite such successes, many companies still express their frustration at the absence of more concrete results. Indeed, in only 8 percent of the biggest companies in the survey did women account for more than a quarter of the top jobs. It is important to note that a number of companies have only recently embarked on gender diversity programs, so it may take time for them to see results. But we should not ignore the fact that some companies admit their initiatives are not always gaining traction, particularly with managers lower down the organization.

The full text of this report:

The Board Director Training Institute (BDTI) is a "public interest" nonprofit in Japan dedicated to training about directorship, corporate governance, and related management techniques. It is certified by the Japanese government to conduct these activities as a regulated nonprofit. Read a summary about BDTI here, and see a menu of its services for both corporations and investors here.

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