Russia tops in female business leaders

EPA/Jens Buettner

Philippines and Lithuania were the other two countries with the most female business leaders worldwide

45 percent of senior management positions are held by women in Russia while in the US the percentage stands at 23 percent (the highest figure since 2007)


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Russia has the most female business leaders in the world, according to a gender equality survey by US based accounting firm Grant Thornton.

According to the survey, 45 percent of senior management positions are held by women in Russia while in the US the percentage stands at 23 percent (the highest figure since 2007). Moreover, the UK has marginally declined in the last year, with 21 percent of senior roles now held by women (down from 22 percent in 2015).

Pamela Harless, Chief people and culture officer in Grant Thornton US said about the mediocre performance by the US and the UK: “In the US and the UK, societal norms are based around a ‘command and control’ style of leadership. If you look at government structure, direction is often set from the top down, leadership is seen as something that needs to be strong and direct, not collaborative – and that trickles down in the corporate world.”

In regard with Russia, the US based firm acknowledged that the strong performance in gender equality derives from the communistic value of equality. Under communism men and women were viewed as equal partners and this tradition “have sparked a trend within the business world that shows little sign of diminishing,” the survey said.

When interviewed by the Guardian newspaper about life in Poland, Maya Mortensen, a women who grew up under communist rule in the 1950s and 60s, commented: “The regime made absolutely no distinction between men and women. I never even thought about the division – all advance in society was open to men and women equally.”

A social norm seems to have been created in Eastern Europe under communism, where younger women do not question whether or not they could lead in the future and women in leadership are not seen as a rarity or unconventional, the survey says. Overall, Eastern Europe continues to top the rankings in gender equality, with 35 percent of senior roles in the region held by women and just 16 percent of businesses with no women in senior management.

The EU has remained relatively consistent over the past five years with around a quarter of senior roles held by women and just over a third of businesses with no women in senior management. According to the survey, strong performance in the Baltics is dragged down by poor performance by Germany and the Netherlands, which continue to rank among the bottom ten economies worldwide.

Japan, was the worst performing country worldwide as only 7 percent of senior leadership roles are held by women. Germany and India ranked slightly higher, with 15 percent and 16 percent of women in senior management, respectively.

Moreover, 39 percent of businesses in G7 countries (Canada, Germany, Italy, France, Japan, Britain and the United States) had no women in senior management positions.

“Companies across developed nations have talked the talk on diversity in leadership for long enough,” Francesca Lagerberg, global leader for tax services at Grant Thornton International said in a statement and added. “It’s time to put their promises into practice and deliver results.”

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