KINGSTON: A new study by the Swedish-based International Labour Organization (ILO) has found that Jamaica has the highest proportion of women managers globally.
The study also found that while women are still underrepresented in top management, the number of women in senior and middle management positions has increased over the last 20 years.
The study, titled “Women in Business and Management, Gaining Momentum”, found that the proportion of women managers in Jamaica was 59.3 per cent.
The U.S. is ranked 15th in the list of 108 countries with 42.7 per cent women managers, the United Kingdom is at 41st with 34.2 per cent and the Russian Federation is at 25th place with 39.1 per cent.
Colombia is in second place at the global level and ranks first in Latin America, followed by Panama in fifth place.
The report, released last week, presents the findings of a 2013 ILO survey of over 1,200 companies in Africa, Asia and Pacific, Eastern and Central Europe and Latin American and the Caribbean, focusing on measures and initiatives to advance women in management. The survey was carried out with the assistance of national employers’ organizations in 39 countries.
“Our research is showing that women’s ever increasing participation in the labour market has been the biggest engine of global growth and competitiveness,” said Deborah France-Massin, Director of the ILO Bureau for Employers’ Activities. “An increasing number of studies are also demonstrating positive links between women’s participation in top decision making teams and structures and business performance. But there is a long way to go before we achieve true gender equality in the workplace, especially when it comes to top management positions.”
The study showed that only five per cent or less of the chief executive officers of the world’s largest corporations are women. It noted that the larger the company, the less likely the head will be a woman.
France-Massin said it is critical for more women to reach senior management positions in strategic areas to build a pool of potential candidates for top jobs such as CEO or company presidents.
“However, ‘glass walls’ still exist with the concentration of women in certain types of management functions like HR, communications and administration,” she said.
The study found that, at present, women own and manage over 30 per cent of all businesses, but they are more likely to be found in micro and small enterprises.
“Getting more women to grow their businesses is not only critical for equality but also for national development,” the study noted, providing statistics on women in management and in business for most countries from all regions and at all levels of development.
It also contains data on the gender pay gap at management and lower levels, as well as statistics on women’s achievements in education. The study also identifies the growing momentum building around the world to advance women to higher levels of management and lists a selection of the numerous initiatives from various sectors.
The study also provides recommendations to close the remaining gender gap including seeking “flexible solutions” to manage work and family time commitments as an alternative to being subject to special treatment or quotas; providing maternity protection coverage and childcare support can bring added value to the company through the recruitment and retention of talented women; and addressing the so-called “leaky pipeline” whereby women fall behind despite their high level of education.
It also recommends implementing gender-sensitive human resources policies and measures and making sure women are given as challenging tasks as men from the beginning of their career.
The study said that women and girls receive almost half of all educational resources, thus representing a significant proportion of the available talent pool. Therefore, companies’ investment in attracting, retaining and promoting skilled women is likely to be good for business.
The study also urged national employers’ organizations to play a significant role in increasing awareness of the business case for appointing women in leadership roles.
“Unless action is taken, it could take 100 to 200 years to achieve parity at the top,” said France-Massin. “It is time to smash the glass ceiling for good to avoid controversial mandatory quotas that are not always necessary or effective. Having women in top positions is simply good for business.”