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Shocking gender divide in corporate responsibility, claims Credit Suisse

Credit Suisse’s latest research highlights that, at the end of 2013, 12.7 per cent of global board appointments were comprised of women, up from 2010’s figure of 9.6 per cent. They also now represent 12.9 per cent of senior management positions.

However, based on the company’s ‘Gender 3,000‘ database, which spans across all sectors and 40 different countries, women often find themselves in roles such as HR, PR and law, rather than operational roles.

“Women are more represented in management areas that carry less influence and have less direct P&L responsibilities,” says Stefano Natella, global head of equity research for Credit Suisse. 

There is no question about it; the chances of anybody going from an operations role to CEO are much higher than from a shared services role to CEO.

Natella further suggests that this shortage is due to a pipeline problem. In fact, while 17,000 UK men graduate with an engineering degree, only 3,300 women do the same. This has made managers believe that there are not enough women with the required skill-set for operational roles.

With Norway as an example, board quotas have gone a long way to increasing the focus of women in higher positions.

But this issue needs to move beyond a simple numbers game,” says Brian Sullivan, the CEO of global executive search firm CTPartners. Blunt mandates around the ratios of men to women will not provide the deep-seated cultural changes required to make a long-term and sustainable difference. Companies need to look across their leadership team, geographies and business functions to ensure there is diversity, not just as an overall company, but within each division and practice.

Shockingly, Credit Suisse also found that parents steer their daughters toward careers in medicine and law instead of encouraging an interest in science and engineering. This gender stereotyping is highlighted by the fact that only two per cent of British parents think engineering is an appropriate career for their daughters.

Concerned with issues in gender diversity Don’t miss Real Business’s First Women programme:

Drawing on ten years of the First Women movement and the phenomenal network of pioneering women the Awards has created, this programme features The First Women Awards and The First Women Summit – designed to educate, mentor and inspire women in all levels of business.


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