Grant Thornton: U.S. in world’s lower third for women in business leadership

Russia, the Philippines and Lithuania earn top marks

of businesses worldwide still do not have any women in leadership

CHICAGO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–When it comes to the percentage of senior-management roles held by
women, the United States is far behind much of the world, including such
surprising leaders as Russia, the Philippines and Lithuania – according
to Grant Thornton’s Women
in Business 2016: Turning Promise into Practice

The annual report – released today for International Women’s Day – found
that women hold only 23 percent of U.S. business-leadership posts, a
lower percentage than 21 of the 36 other countries surveyed for the

Globally, the percentages varied dramatically from nation to nation:
Russia held the top spot with 45 percent of senior-business roles
occupied by women; and Japan held the lowest spot at 7 percent.

Country   Rank  

Percentage of women in
senior-business roles

  Country   Rank  

Percentage of women in
senior-business roles

Russia   1   45 Singapore   16  


Philippines   2   39 Spain   16   26
Lithuania   2   39 Finland   21   25
Estonia   4   37 Australia   22   23
Thailand   4   37 Botswana   22   23
Indonesia   6   36 South Africa   22   23
Latvia   7   35 United States   22   23
Poland   8   34 United Kingdom   26   21
China (mainland)   9   30 Turkey   27   20
Georgia   10   29 Brazil   28   19
Italy   10   29 Ireland   28   19
Nigeria   10   29 New Zealand   28   19
France   13   28 Argentina   31   18
Greece   14   27 Mexico   31   18
Sweden   14   26 Netherlands   31   18
Armenia   16   26 India   34   16
Canada   16   26 Germany   35   15
Malaysia   16   26 Japan   36   7

The report found some positive news for the United States, with the
percentage of senior roles held by women moving up to 23 percent from
last year’s 21 percent figure. However, the report also cautioned that
the proportion of U.S. businesses with no women in senior management is
almost one-third (31 percent) – a figure that mirrors the 33 percent
global number.

“The fact that about a third of businesses have no women in
senior-business roles speaks volumes,” said Erica O’Malley, national
managing partner of Employee Benefit Plans and People Experience at
Grant Thornton LLP. “It means a third of businesses still have no female
input into executive decisions and no women helping grow the business at
a leadership level.”

The report also points out that diversity is not just “the right thing
to do,” it’s also good business, and can improve the bottom line.
Previous Grant Thornton research cited in the report found that publicly
listed companies with male-only boards in the United Kingdom, United
States and India are forgoing potential profits of $655 billion.

So how can businesses change? According to O’Malley, part of the
solution may be to “stop relying on top-down leadership structures and
move to ones that are more collaborative.” She also suggested that
companies could do more to make leadership appealing to women. This
includes “redefining leadership in recognition of the different ways men
and women view the skills good leaders need.”

The full Women in Business 2016: Turning Promise into Practice
report offers additional recommendations to help businesses turn
diversity promises into reality. It is available at
– and an infographic of the country rankings is available at

The report’s findings are drawn from data collected quarterly for the Grant
Thornton International Business

Notes to editors

The Grant Thornton International Business Report (IBR) launched
in 1992 initially in nine European countries now provides insight into
the views and expectations of more than 10,000 businesses per year
across 36 economies. For more information, please visit:

Data collection

Data collection is managed by Grant Thornton’s core research partner,
Millward Brown. Questionnaires are translated into local languages with
each participating country having the option to ask a small number of
country specific questions in addition to the core questionnaire.
Fieldwork is undertaken on a quarterly basis. The research is carried
out primarily by telephone.


The Grant Thornton International Business Report is based on a
survey of both publicly-listed and privately-held businesses. The data
points for this press release are drawn from interviews with 5,520 chief
executive officers, managing directors, chairmen or other senior
executives from all industry sectors conducted between July and December

About Grant Thornton LLP

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Adam Bond, 312.602.8332