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Representation of women in UK mid-market leadership hits record high

All global regions have now passed the 30% milestone, including APAC, which was the only region not to hit this figure in 2021, and the proportion of businesses with at least one woman in senior management remains at 90%

The number of women in senior management positions in UK mid-sized businesses has surged to 32%, with 49% of women in senior management most likely to hold the position of HR Director and 39% to hold chief finance officer roles.

According to Grant Thornton International Ltd.’s 2022 Women in Business report, this is the highest level since the report’s records began in 2004, and 1% higher than the global average.

In 2012 just 3% of UK respondents had female CEOs, which has now grown to 31%. This is up 5% since 2021 and the highest level recorded by the research for the UK.

The number of women in senior management positions globally advanced just a single percentage point year-on-year, although it has grown by 8% in a decade.

Overall, 73% of global respondents and 77% of UK respondents said they are working to create a more inclusive environment to attract and retain female talent. Additionally, 73% of global respondents and 79% of UK respondents expect that new working practices accelerated by the pandemic will continue to benefit women’s career trajectories long-term.

The report surveys leaders from almost 5,000 businesses across 29 economies, and it found that UK businesses are “less likely than ever before” to have no women in senior roles. Only 2% of UK respondents said they had no women in their senior management team, compared with the global average of 10%.

70% of international business respondents said they are now working to create a more inclusive environment which attracts and retains female talent.

Fiona Baldwin, Strategic Leadership Team sponsor for Gender at Grant Thornton, said: “The blurring of lines between home and work caused by lockdowns has rapidly accelerated a change of attitudes that was already underway before the pandemic began.

“During 2021 we saw evidence of progress with an increased proportion of women being promoted to partner and joining as external hires. This contributed to a more balanced representation of women at partner level (from 19% in 2020 to 22% in 2021).”

She added: “There needs to be continued focus on enabling cultural and societal change around flexible working for all genders, not just in the workplace but at home.”

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