Are women really making progress in business?

The progress of women in the business world is an age old topic of debate but one which remains relevant even as the proportion of women in the workplace and specifically in executive roles rises.

An update on the latest statistics 

report published a few years ago recommended that FTSE 100 companies should aim for a minimum of 25% female representation on their boards by 2015.  The latest figures show that women now hold 17.3% of board positions, so the percentage is gradually increasing, as women make their mark in the business world.

The good news is that companies within South Africa are holding their own against the FTSE companies, with similarly increasing statistics.  According to the 2012 Women in Leadership census conducted by the Business Women’s Association, whilst making up 52%of the population in SA, women hold 17.1 % of directorship positions, 21.4% of executive management positions,  and only 5.5% and 3.6% of chairpersons and CEO roles respectively. 

There is clearly still a long way to go to achieve a truly representative business leadership demographic , and there is no doubt that women need to work at overcoming stereotypes in the work place – whilst also balancing partners’ career needs, children and family obligations with the achievement of their own career goals. 

The income gap – Why women earn less!

Leading on from last month’s debate of women’s progress in the business world, another relevant topic is wage disparity between men and women globally. This is not just a gender equality issue, but one which has a real effect on the economy.

Statistics from the World Economic Forum Report sourced from Equal Wages, Better GDP,  in Fortune Magazine (October 2012) emphasize the importance of equal wages by commenting that a country’s competitiveness is judged by its human capital.  If the female half of the workforce is ignored, the economy and GDP suffers.

Income Statistics

Looking at female earned income as a percentage of male income, women in the US earn equally to their male counterparts, women in Brazil, China, Canada and Russia earn between 60% and 80% of their male counterparts’ income, and women in India earn only 20% to 40%.  South Africa ranks in the 40% - 60% category, which represents a significant decline since 2010 when, according to the January 2010 edition of Fair Lady, as sourced in ‘Deal Diva’ by Kim Meredith, the wage gap between South African men and women was only 25%.