A new Korn Ferry (NYSE: KFY) global analysis shows that while there is still a substantial gap in the percentage of women versus men serving in corporate executive ranks (vice president and above), there has been progress in recent years.
Virtually all the analyzed nations saw a jump in the percentage of women executives since 2016, with the United States having the highest percentage of women in leadership positions at 39 percent, which is an increase of nearly 8 percent from five years ago. Other nations that have a higher percentage of women executives than other parts of the world include Canada (36 percent), New Zealand (35 percent), Sweden (28 percent), Malaysia (28 percent) and the United Kingdom (26 percent).
The only analyzed nation to see a significant decrease in female executive representation in the last five years is China (20 percent now versus 27 percent in 2016).
Female Executive Representation by Country
“While progress in executive gender equality in most nations is a positive trend, much still needs to be done to close the gap and ensure it doesn’t widen even more given many senior-level women are leaving the workforce amid the pandemic,” said Korn Ferry Global Leader of Succession Management Jane Stevenson. “Effective strategies include identifying women with high potential earlier in their career and creating a strong sponsorship program, whereby leaders in the organization can help women achieve executive roles.”
The Korn Ferry analysis also examined female executive representation by function. Human Resources (HR) has the highest ranking of women in leadership at 51 percent. The functions with the lowest percentage of women leaders are Information Technology (IT); Research and Development (R&D); and Sales, all at 16 percent.
Female Executive Representation by Function
In terms of industries, healthcare has the highest percentage of female executives at 46 percent. Healthcare also has the highest overall percentage of women working in the industry at 75 percent. Other industries that have higher percentages of women executives than others include leisure and hospitality (40 percent), public sector (38 percent), and retail (32 percent).
The industrial goods/technology sector has the lowest percentage of women executives at 14 percent, and women make up just 22 percent of the overall workforce in that sector.
Female Executive Representation by Industry
“There are disparities in female representation overall in certain industries and functions, so it stands to reason that there will be disparities in the ranks of women executives,” said Stevenson. “Beyond looking at senior ranks, more needs to be done to attract young women into lucrative and rewarding careers in traditionally male-dominated industries and roles, such as science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). It’s incumbent upon all of us – business leaders, educators and parents – to help show what’s possible.”
About Korn Ferry
Korn Ferry is a global organizational consulting firm. We work with our clients to design optimal organization structures, roles, and responsibilities. We help them hire the right people and advise them on how to reward and motivate their workforce while developing professionals as they navigate and advance their careers.