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Women in leadership: Are there lessons for the UK from other nations

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Perhaps we should really be turning our eyes to the BRICS (Brazil,Russia, India, China andSouth Africa).

Francesca Lagerberg, global head of tax at Grant Thornton, said: Emerging markets do seem really to value some of the things that women bring to boards and senior roles. The approach to business is different and theres a real recognition that innovation and creativity are sometimes more closely linked to female leaders.

This comes hand-in-hand with Grant Thornton data, suggesting that the proportion of senior roles filled by women across the BRICS exceeds 30 per cent, compared with about 20 per cent in the G7. This is also higher than the 24 per cent global average.

These striking statistics are further seen in China.

Although China still lags behind in terms of providing sufficient support for career women, the country has achieved tremendous progress.

Women occupy 21 percent of the positions on company boards in China and hold 38 per cent of corporate senior management positions.

More astonishingly, perhaps, is the fact that more than 60 per cent of CFOs are women. And, with 30 per cent of entrepreneurs being women, they have made more money for themselves than any other country apart from the US.

According to Dominic King, Grant Thornton’s global research manager, The concept of ‘opportunity for all’ is deeply embedded in Chinese society and has boosted gender equality. Rapid urbanization, which allows more women to work, plus reduced child care burdens stemming from the family planning policy also are factors.

Russia leads the way when it comes down to the number of female senior managers at 43 per cent, but they probably have the least to Alright, Russia’sprevious influence of communism may have actively promoted women,but this is largely due to unchangeable circumstances. Although the country has twice the number of women in such positions than the US or Western Europe,Grant Thornton chalks this down to Russia’s demographics, where women outnumber their counterparts by 6:5. It was also estimated that women outliving men had a large role to play as well.

That being said, Bella Zlatkis, deputy chairwoman of Russias Sberbank, believes that if a woman is willing to build her career, she can do it. There is no glass ceiling in Russia.

According to Oliver Wyman, women account for 20 per cent of the members of the executive committees of major Russian financial companies. And they all specifically state that this has had nothing to do with legislation.

In one of its own studies, the company states: “Women there have benefited from the legacy of a drive by the former Soviet Union to promote female participation in the work force. That push meant that Russian women in the early 20th century began working in industries that were still considered male bastions in the West.”

When it comes to politics, only 21.8 per cent of national parliamentarians were female. This is where Rwanda reigns supreme, with an astonishing 63.8 per cent.

In an article published by Juliana Kantengwa, a member of the Rwandan parliament and vice-president of the Pan-African parliament, said that it was by no means an easy task.

Low literacy levels among rural Rwandan women meant women were inclined to vote for her husbands choice; urban women also tended to be more vocal than rural women; and male candidates were often better connected with wider networks among the local administration and local communities than women.

But we went around the country and educated women on the benefits of the secret ballot; we ensured small parties were represented in every electoral coalition; and we put in place electoral laws that meant female candidates could not be out-competed by a better connected male candidate.

The UK, with less than one in four members of Parliament female, still has a long way to go toward equal representation. The quota system may seem like a drastic measure, but Rwanda is proof it works.

Today you wouldnt find a single Rwandan man or woman who disputes that the influence and leadership of women has been essential to Rwandas social and economic progress. The proof of this is in the overwhelming public election of women to our parliament. Our constitutional quota only provides that 24 of the 80 seats in the Chamber of Deputies be reserved for women, but the electorate has consistently voted for more women.”

She notably adds at that end that perhaps the UK could do the same. It’s certainly something we should strive towards. They definitely help prove the adage that women make a difference, be it on a company board or in a political role, and have gone out of their way to add more females not because it was needed, but because they saw the difference it could make.

Concerned with issues surrounding gender diversity in business 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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