Mercer calls for global action on pay and gender equality

The second annual ‘When Women Thrive’ global report shows all regions bar one will fail to meet equal female workforce representation by 2025, with major impacts on wealth creation.

Illustration of world map and business women
The ten-year forecast shows women currently make up 40 per cent of the average company's workforce. Globally, they represent 33 per cent of managers, 26 per cent of senior managers and 20 per cent of executives, according to Mercer's study of almost 600 organisations around the world, employing 3.2 million people.Companies in Europe and North America are among those most struggling to achieve workforce parity. Without further action, female representation here will reach only 37 per cent and 40 per cent respectively in professional and managerial ranks by 2025. Asia fares least well on female representation by 2025 (28%).By contrast, Latin America is projected to increase women's representation from 36 per cent to 49 per cent in 2025, followed by Australia/New Zealand moving from 35 per cent to 40 per cent.Commenting on the overall findings, Pat Milligan, Mercer's global leader of When Women Thrive, said, "The traditional methods of advancing women aren't moving the needle, and under-representation of women around the world has become an economic and social travesty."While leaders have been focusing on women at the top, they're largely ignoring the female talent pipelines so critical to maintaining progress."Although Mercer's report finds women are 1.5 times more likely than men to be hired at the executive level, it also highlights how women are also leaving organisations from the highest rank at 1.3 times the rate of men, undermining gains at the top.A further key trend revealed in the report is that female representation within organisations declines as career levels rise, from support staff through the executive level."It's not enough to create a band-aid program," said Brian Levine, Mercer's innovation leader, Global Workforce Analytics. "Most companies aren't focused on the complete talent pipeline, nor are they focused on the supporting practices and cultural change critical to ensure that women will be successful in their organisations."Urging leaders to focus on executive engagement and pay equity, Mercer's report found only 57 per cent of organisations say their senior leaders are engaged in diversity and inclusion initiatives, with US/Canada ranking first.Interestingly, top ten-year forecast parity performer Latin America ranks first for engagement of middle managers on diversity and inclusion: 51 per cent versus 39 per cent globally. Women in the region also occupy above-global-average levels of profit and loss roles (47% against 28% globally)."In 10 years, organisations won't even be close to gender equality in most regions of the world," said Ms Milligan. "If CEOs want to drive their growth tomorrow through diversity, they need to take action today. This is a call-to-action – every organisation has a choice to stay with the status quo or drive their growth, communities and economies through the power of women."

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