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South Africa and France Lead the Way in Public and Private Sector Gender Diversity, Latest Research by Kearney Reveals

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The latest ‘Gender Equality Report’ from Kearney has revealed progress in the representation of women in both public and private sectors, but the figures still don’t show parity.

Ahead of International Women’s Day, the analysis provides insight into the progress of gender diversity in private and public sectors across nine countries – the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, India, France, Spain, Germany, South Africa and Singapore.

The annual report revealed that France was number one for representation in the private sector with women comprising nearly 44% (43.8%) of board members on average, however only 2% of these women held top board positions. The UK (36%) and Australia (34%) also scored highly for representation of women on boards. The average for board level representation of women is 29.9% - not even one in three.

% Female board level representation by country

France

43.8%

UK

36.0%

Australia

34.0%

Germany

32.5%

Spain

29.8%

US

29.8%

South Africa

28.5%

Singapore

17.3%

India

17.0%

The public sector – meaning members of Parliament or equivalent – is faring slightly better. The average across the countries surveyed is 33.2% - a marginal difference compared to the private sector – but two thirds (6 out of 9) countries showed more promising gender parity in their governments compared to on their boards. South Africa led the way in the public sector with 44% of its MPs being women – a huge step up from its 28.5% parity at board level – though France is the most gender-diverse nation when taking an average across both its parliament and the boards of its largest companies. The average across both sectors is 32% female representation, whereas France is a leader with 40.4% parity overall.

% Female parliament representation by country

South Africa

44.0%

Spain

42.0%

Australia

38.0%

France

37.0%

UK

34.0%

Germany

33.0%

Singapore

30.0%

US

27.0%

India

14.0%

This year’s annual report demonstrates modest progress compared with 2020. Representation of women in the private sector has increased marginally in the United States (1.2%), United Kingdom (3%) and Australia (0.6%), as well as in the parliaments in Australia (1%) and the United States (3.5%), which had a record year for women elected. India remains the least gender diverse country studied with representation of women under 20% across both public (14%) and private sectors (17%).

Beth Sehgal, global director of diversity, equity, and inclusion at Kearney, comments:

“It’s positive to see businesses and governments move towards equal representation as women hold an increasing number of high-ranking positions. However, progress has been slow, and the gender leadership gap endures. France is leading the way for private sector representation and South Africa ranks number one for public sector diversity, and the progress of these two countries should provide benchmarks as we work towards achieving gender parity worldwide.

“Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiatives will need to be prioritized, particularly in countries lagging behind. Diversity has regularly been linked to high-performance with a variety of perspectives encouraging fresh ideas and preventing the dreaded group think. As the economy rebuilds from the aftermath of coronavirus, it will be crucial women are fairly represented in both public and private sector roles to help assist in its recovery and to avoid a regression on gender equality or “she-cession”.”

About Kearney

As a global consulting partnership in more than 40 countries, our people make us who we are. We’re individuals who take as much joy from those we work with as the work itself. Driven to be the difference between a big idea and making it happen, we help our clients break through. Learn more at Kearney.com.

About the research

Kearney‘s Gender Equality Report 2021 was based on research using publicly available data across nine countries – UK, US, France, Germany, Spain, Australia, India and Singapore – regarding the representation of women at board level and in their respective parliaments. Board information was gathered using the support of Factset.

Read the report: https://www.kearney.com/web/international-womens-day/article/?/a/the-equality-dilemma

Contact information

Press contact
Sophie Mellish
Rostrum – PR consultants to Kearney
s.mellish@rostrum.agency
+44 7789 712 597

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