Women in business and management: the business case for change

International Labor Organization (ILO)

In May the International Labor Organization (ILO), together with the Bureau for Employers’ Activities (ACT/EMP) published the report “Women in business and management: the business case for change”[1]. This paper discusses the results of a survey conducted across a number of companies[2] about women in business management, backed up by supporting research and information from the knowledge banks of the ILO, UNESCO and the World Bank.

The report considers the wide-ranging arguments for greater gender diversity in the workplace, together with the representation of women in senior management and on boards, as well as assessing the success achieved through a number of inclusion initiatives. Of the companies surveyed that track the impact of gender diversity in management, 74 per cent report profit increases of 5 to 20 per cent. In addition, enterprises with equal employment opportunity policies and gender-inclusive cultures are more likely to experience enhanced reputation, greater ease in attracting and retaining talent, and greater creativity and innovation.

The paper also discusses two obstacles to gender diversity: the so-called “leaky pipeline” or loss of female talent, on the one hand, and “glass walls”, on the other. The first explains how the representation of women decreases as the level of management increases, resulting in continued male dominance of the chief executive level and boards[3]. The second refers to gender segregation according to different functional areas. Thus, women are more often managers in support functions, while men dominate functions that are seen as more strategic.


Consult the report clicking here

[1] Women in business and management: the business case for change / International Labor Office– Geneva: ILO, 2019

[2] Survey carried out with 12,940 companies spanning 70 countries, of which 32.7% are in Latin America or the Caribbean

[3] Over 78 per cent of enterprises surveyed reported having a male CEO. With increasing enterprise size, the percentage of female CEOs drops from 26 per cent in small enterprises, to 20 per cent in mid-sized enterprises, to only 16 per cent in large enterprises.