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Failure to build talent pipelines threatens women’s workplace progress, says Mercer’s When Women Thrive Global Report

  • 27 January 2016
  • United Kingdom, London

Women are under-represented in the workforce globally, and if organisations maintain the current rate of progress, female representation will reach only 40% globally in the professional and managerial ranks in 2025, according to Mercer’s second annual When Women Thrive global report.

 Among the key trends revealed in the report is that women’s representation within organisations actually declines as career levels rise – from support staff through the executive level (see Figure 1).

 “The traditional methods of advancing women aren’t moving the needle, and under-representation of women around the world has become an economic and social travesty,” said Pat Milligan, Mercer’s Global Leader of When Women Thrive. “While leaders have been focusing on women at the top, they’re largely ignoring the female talent pipelines so critical to maintaining progress.

 “This is a call-to-action -- every organisation has a choice to stay with the status quo or drive their growth, communities and economies through the power of women.”

Mercer’s report finds that although women are 1.5 times more likely than men to be hired at the executive level, they are also leaving organisations from the highest rank at 1.3 times the rate of men, undermining gains at the top.

 “Quotas and targets in the UK and Europe have had a big impact in boosting female representation in senior roles.  But in this region in particular there is a disturbing revolving door” said Julia Howes, Principal at Mercer. “While organisations are focused on recruiting women at the top, they are not developing them from within with the same focus… and that could threaten the progress they’ve made, unless they act now.”

According to the When Women Thrive report, women make up 40% of the average company’s workforce. Globally, they represent 33% of managers, 26% of senior managers, and 20% of executives (see Figure 2).

 In terms of regional rankings, Latin America is projected to increase women’s representation from 36% in 2015 to 49% in 2025; followed by Australia and New Zealand moving from 35% to 40%; US and Canada improving by just 1% from 39% to 40%; Europe remaining flat at 37% in 2015 and 2025; and Asia ranking last at 28%, up from just 25% in 2015 (see Figure 2).

 “In 10 years, organisations won’t even be close to gender equality in most regions of the world,” said Ms. Milligan. “If CEOs want to drive their growth tomorrow through diversity, they need to take action today.”

 The research – the most comprehensive of its kind featuring input from nearly 600 organisations around the world, employing 3.2 million people, including 1.3 million women – identifies a host of key drivers known to improve diversity and inclusion (D&I) efforts.

 “It’s not enough to create a band-aid program,” said Brian Levine, Mercer’s Innovation Leader, Global Workforce Analytics. “Most companies aren’t focused on the complete talent pipeline nor are they focused on the supporting practices and cultural change critical to ensure that women will be successful in their organisations.”

 Only 9% of organisations surveyed globally offer women-focused retirement and savings programs with the US/Canada ranking first (14%), despite Mercer’s research proving that such efforts lead to greater representation of women (see Figure 3).

 Other Key Findings
Other key findings of the survey include:

  •  Only 57% of organisations claim senior leaders are engaged in diversity and inclusion initiatives with US/Canada ranking #1
        Latin America ranks #1 for engagement of middle managers with 51% vs. 39% globally
  • Involvement of men has actually dropped since the first report in 2014, when 49% of organisations said they are engaged in D&I efforts vs. 38% in 2015. US/Canada ranks #1 for involvement of men at 43%.
  • Only 29% of organisations review performance ratings by gender with Australia/New Zealand ranking first
  • US/Canada lead on pay equity, with 40% of organisations offering formal pay equity remediation processes, compared to 34% globally, 25% in Asia, and 28% in Europe. But virtually no improvements have been made since 2014
  • 28% of women hold P&L (profit and loss) roles with Latin America ranking first (47%), followed by Asia (27%), Australia/New Zealand (25%), US/Canada (22%), and Europe (17%)
  • Women are perceived to have unique skills needed in today’s market including flexibility and adaptability (39% vs. 20% who say men have those strengths); inclusive team management (43% vs. 20%); and emotional intelligence (24% vs. 5%); see Figure 4
  • US/Canada ranks #1 in providing training to support employees through parental leave as well offering customised retirement and savings programs by gender
  • About half of organisations in three key regions – Asia, US/Canada and Latin America – agree that supporting women’s health is important to attract and retain women yet only 22% conduct analyses to identify gender-specific health needs in the workforce.

The report also asked organisations about access to and usage of key benefit programs, including part-time schedules, maternity leave, paternity leave, child care, elder care, mentorship and more.

To access the report summary, go here.

For more information about Mercer’s When Women Thrive initiative, visit www.mercer.com.

Notes to Editors

About Mercer
Mercer is a global consulting leader in talent, health, retirement and investments. Mercer helps clients around the world advance the health, wealth and performance of their most vital asset—their people. Mercer’s more than 20,000 employees are based in 43 countries and the firm operates in over 140 countries. Mercer is a wholly owned subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies (NYSE: MMC), a global professional services firm offering clients advice and solutions in the areas of risk, strategy and people. With 57,000 employees worldwide and annual revenue exceeding $13 billion, Marsh & McLennan Companies is also the parent company of Marsh, a leader in insurance broking and risk management; Guy Carpenter, a leader in providing risk and reinsurance intermediary services; and Oliver Wyman, a leader in management consulting. For more information, visit www.mercer.com. Follow Mercer on Twitter @Mercer. In the UK, Mercer Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Figure 1: Women’s representation declines as career levels rise

Source: Mercer, When Women Thrive Report

Figure 2: Current and projected 2025 female representation at the professional career level and above if talent flows maintained

Source: Mercer, When Women Thrive Report

Figure 3: World rankings on key diversity efforts, from executive involvement to pay equity and women-focused retirement savings programs

Source: Mercer, When Women Thrive Report

Figure 4: Skills of women and men are unique

Source: Mercer, When Women Thrive Report

Figure 5. The most comprehensive research of women in the workplace

 

 

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