20-first Ranks Top Companies in US, UK, France and Germany Based on Gender Balance of Their Executive Committes

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20-first's new research looks at what the TOP 20 companies in four key market have achieved in balancing their Executive Committee teams. The US and UK are a bit ahead overall, as the numbers show that most of the top companies have gotten a token woman on the team. While fewer French companies have any women on their top teams, the ones that do have moved a step beyond tokensim, and a few to outright balance. In Germany, even getting just one woman on the team loks like a major challenge.

Leadership is the key driver in companies' ability to balance their top management team. It is more important than industry sector or country context, as these reports show. -- Avivah Wittenberg-Cox, CEO of 20-first


Following up on its 3rd annual Global Gender Balance Scorecard report, consultancy 20-first publishes four companion surveys to shine a light on the progress being made in gender balancing the Executive Committees of the TOP 20 companies in the US, UK, France and Germany. Whereas much attention has been paid to the gender balance of Boards, the Executive Committee is a much better indicator of corporate progress in managing and developing talent in a truly meritocratic and gender "bilingual" way.


By one measure the anglo-saxon countries, the US and UK, seem to lead the group on gender balance. Only a small minority of these countries' TOP 20 companies have NO women at all on their Executive Committees. 10% of the TOP 20 US companies, 15% of the TOP 20 UK companies. Compared to 45% of TOP 20 French companies and 65% of German companies.

However, in all four countries the vast majority of Executive Committee members of these companies remain male: 83 % in the US, 86% in the UK, 89% in France and 94% in Germany.

In addition, across all four markets, the majority of women on Executive Committees are in staff or support roles rather than line or operational jobs. In fact, in all four countries, the proportions are almost identical: there are twice as many women at theis level who reporesent staff functions compared to the number with P&L responsibility.


UNITED STATES. 83% of Executive Committee members of TOP 20 Companies are men; 17% are women. Of the 48 women at this level, 30 are in staff or support roles and 18 are in line or operational roles. Progressive companies include: Cardinal Health, Bank of America, General Electric, IBM and Chevron.

UNITED KINGDOM. 86% of Executive Committee members of TOP 20 Companies are men; 14% are women. Of the 27 women at this level, 18 are in staff or support roles and 9 are in line or operational roles. Progressive companies include: AstraZeneca and Prudential.

FRANCE. 89% of Executive Committee members of TOP 20 Companies are men; 11% ar women. Of the 22 women at this level, 14 are in staff or support roles and 8 are in line or operational roles. Progressive companies include: CNP Assurances, Renault and SNCF.

GERMANY. 94% of Executive Committee members of TOP 20 Companies are men: 6% are women. Of the 8 women at this level, 5 are in staff or support roles and 3 are in line or operational roles. Progressive companies include: Siemens.


The TOP 20 companies in each market are segmented into one of the following six phases:

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 Global Gender Balance Scorecard or any of the Country Focus Reports or to speak to Avivah Wittenberg-Cox, contact press@20-first.com or visit http://www.genderbalancescorecard.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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