The United Nations theme for this International Womenâ€™s Day is â€œEquality for women is progress for all.â€ Emerging markets around the world appear to be seizing the lead over developed countries when it comes to women in senior business management positions.
The rapid economic growth in emerging markets in recent years has resulted in greater opportunities for women in business, giving them a clear edge over their counterparts in developed nations. While the global debate on bridging the gender gap in business continues, the widely-held notion that traditional and social hurdles in developing countries limit womenâ€™s empowerment in business is getting increasingly outdated.
Grant Thorntonâ€™s 2014 â€˜Women in Businessâ€™ report, which surveyed 6,600 companies in 45 countries, reveals that the proportion of senior management positions held by women across the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) exceeds 30 percent, in contrast to about 20 percent in the G7 group of industrialized nations. The report provides striking statistics such as: in China more than 60 percent of CFOs are women.
Across the BRICS nations, the percentage of companies with no women in senior roles has gone down from 39 percent last year to 18 percent this year. Women in emerging markets score better than the global average even in the boardrooms. About one-third of all entrepreneurs in China are women.
On the Forbes 2013 list of 24 self-made female billionaires worldwide, six are from China â€“ more than any other country outside the U.S. According to the World Bank, 12 percent of CEOs in Turkey are women, which is higher than the EU average. Francesca Lagerberg, global head of tax at Grant Thornton, points out that the emerging markets really seem to value some of the attributes that women bring to boards and senior management roles.
Education is one of the key factors behind the increased empowerment of women in business in the developing world. According to Sylvia Ann Hewlett and Ripa Rashid, authors of the book â€œWinning the War for Talent,â€ women in emerging markets are graduating from universities and graduate schools at rates that match and often outstrip those of men.
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