20-first's 2011 Global Gender Balance Scorecard: Where the World's Top 300 Companies Stand

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US companies are progressing beyond tokenism in terms of gender balance, according to a new report, "20-first's Global Gender Balance Scorecard". Using a more representative metric than "Women on Boards," the survey focuses on the balance of men and women on the Executive Committee. US firms have a firm lead on their rivals in Europe and Asia, though Europe is catching up at Board level. Globally, 90% of Executive Committee members are men, and only 10% are women.

A majority of western companies have done the easy part: appointing non-exec female directors to their Boards. The next phase is to actually develop balanced executive talent from within."
-- Avivah Wittenberg-Cox, CEO, 20-first

The Core Metric: The Executive Committee

Recent studies have drawn attention to the lack of gender balance on boards. Now, consultancy 20-first publishes its 3rd annual Global Gender Balance Scorecard to shine a light on the progress being made within the world’s TOP 300 companies. "This survey invites you to look deeper into companies, and to use metrics that distinguish between those serious about gender balance from the rest," says Avivah Wittenberg-Cox, CEO of 20-first, and author of HOW Women Mean Business.

Key Findings

US Leads. The US leads the way with 59% of companies having at least two women on their Executive Committees. However, upon closer inspection the picture is not quite so rosy. Of the 1,227 Executive Committee members of America’s Top 100 companies, only 205 (or 17%) are women and 1022 (or 83%) are men. The majority of these female Executive Committee members are in staff or support positions (145, or 12% of total) such as HR, Communications or Legal, whereas only 60 women (or 5% of total) are in line or operational roles.

Europe Struggles. With only 20% of companies having at least two women on their Executive Committees, the overall picture shows that European companies are still struggling to make progress in gender balancing their top teams. Of the 938 Executive Committee members of Europe’s Top 100 companies, only 78 (or 8%) are women and 860 (or 92%) are men. Again most of these women (56, or 6% of total) are in staff or support roles. Only 22 women (or 2% of total) are in line or operational roles.

Asia Lags. With only 4% of companies having at least two women on their Executive Committee, the overall picture is one of significant imbalance. Indeed, compared to the 926 men (98%) on Executive Committees in Asia, there are only 14 women in staff roles (1.5% of total) and a mere 6 women in line or operational roles (0,6% of total).

The 6 Phases of the Gender Journey:

The survey presents companies along the spectrum of six phases on gender balance:

1. Asleep - Some companies haven't even started the journey; we put them in our 'Asleep' category. These companies are still, in 2011, run by an exclusively male team.

2. Token - Many companies have appointed a 'Token' woman to the team, or sometimes two, but in any case less than 15% of the Executive Team. And in this category, she is in a staff or support function rather than a line or operational role. This is a key distinction for companies interested in creating sustainable and effective role models.

3. Starting Smart - Next are the 'Starting Smart' companies. They also only have a single woman, or less than 15%, but she is in a central core or operational role, or is even CEO, and so offers a better role model to get companies started on the journey.

4. Progressing - Moving right along, are companies that have progressed beyond a single representative of the female sex, and have achieved a male / female balance between 85/15 and 75/24. These companies are beginning to render visible at senior levels the investment they have made in building their talent pipelines over the previous decade.

5. Critical Mass - These are companies that have achieved a male/female ratio of at least 75/25. This is the level at which the women on the team - and their views - are no longer seen as minority representatives, but as integral parts of the talent and executive pool.

6. Balanced - Is for the extremely rare companies that have achieved gender balance, with a minimum 40% of either gender on the Executive Team. This is where the gender journey ends, and where balance at the top begins to reflect the reality of 21st century customers, leadership and talent and gives companies the competitive edge to innovate and deliver value sustainably and globally.

For additional information on 20-first's 2011 Global Gender Balance Scorecard or to speak to Avivah Wittenberg-Cox, contact press@20-first.com or visit http://www.20-first.com.

20-first works with organisations that seek to move from 20th century mindsets, management styles and marketing approaches into more progressive 21st century forms - and to stay first at the game. Thus our name. It underlies our purpose, and those of the clients we serve. 20-first works with progressive global companies around the world interested in responding to both halves of the market and optimizing both halves of the talent pool - the male and female halves.

Avivah Wittenberg-Cox is CEO of 20-first. Based in Paris and London, she is a consultant, coach and author of HOW Women Mean Business (Wiley 2008) and WHY Women Mean Business (Wiley, 2010), see http://www.WHYandHOWWomenMeanBusiness.com . She helps companies develop more inclusive leadership styles, promote more gender-balanced management teams and review processes and policies to better respond to both halves of the talent pool and both halves of the market.


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