Women in business 2018

Diversity in senior leadership teams

What is holding businesses back?

Many businesses globally are missing out on opportunities because of a lack of diversity in senior leadership teams. This means that a business does not necessarily reflect the markets or communities in which they operate, and it could be holding them back

In our recent International Business Report (IBR) research into diversity, we captured the views of 2,500 business leaders in 35 countries. Our Diversity Snapshot, released one month ahead of our 2018 Women in Business report, explores the diversity of senior teams around the world by ethnicity, age and gender. This is the first time we have investigated business leaders’ attitudes towards these three key aspects of diversity.

On average, only 40% of businesses believe diversity is important to their success, and just 14% are taking action to improve the diversity of their senior team.

We find that businesses are, for the most part, not ethnically or gender diverse. Age diverse teams are more common, although it is far from the norm to have a senior team member who is under 35 years old. The data show diversity only really improves when businesses both value diversity and have plans in place to support it. This is a valuable reminder that change will be difficult to achieve without leadership commitment.

The highlights shared in this snapshot are hopefully an important first step in broadening the debate on diversity in business. We want to help other businesses understand these diversity shortfalls and we have included some ideas for positive steps businesses can consider to help increase their diversity.

Our Women in Business research, now in its 13th year, provides a powerful benchmark on the participation of women in leadership teams and will be published on International Women’s Day, 8 March 2018.

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