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CFO Barometer: Significant obstacles to gender parity in C-suite level roles
Women continue to dramatically lag behind their male counterparts in managerial roles. Data gathered from 2847 financial leaders and CFO’s based in over 70 countries show significant disparities in salaries, compensation and benefits between women financial leaders and their male counterparts. According to Page Executive’s latest CFO Barometer, male financial leaders get a take-home pay 16% higher compared to their female counterparts and a bonus higher by 22% compared to women financial leaders.
Despite evidence regarding the importance of women’s economic integration, country-level data show us clearly that there are still discrepancies between the job opportunities and wages available to women and those of their male counterparts. But an underlying question remains. In the corporate sector, women occupying C-level jobs tops out at 15 percent: So why aren’t they rising to the top?
First, we are very good at capturing women of talent at entry-level. But as staff level rises, the percentage of female financial leaders shrinks. And because women make up only 25% of middle management, companies have a limited pipeline to feed their senior-level roles. The problem is typically that in this mid-career space, companies need to find solutions to retain them. Thanks to its global approach, the CFO Barometer allows us to benchmark the positions of leading companies on the policies promoting gender equality. The debate has been going on for a while now. Companies talk about this a lot: maternity leave policies, parental leave, longer-term leave, flextime, mentoring and programs companies should have to train and retain women.
So how do we solve the fact women tend to be scarce among the more senior positions? Imposing a gender quota in listed companies or quotas for female board members have long been the subject of debates. Views range from those who believe that such policies could prove counterproductive for the advancement of women to those who advocate that the most efficient way to reach a fair balance is through stringent measures. What we at least notice via our Page Executive mandates is that most companies are implementing some form of affirmative policies. But not all companies do track salary gaps between women and men and the numbers vary greatly from one country to another, from one company to another and from one industry to another.
Barriers to leadership & role models
Being provided flexible work hours is very important but flexible working conditions do not always lead to increased numbers and retention of women in top jobs. During her now famous 2010 TED talk, “Why we have too few women leaders”, Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg clearly states the problem is women are dropping out. In their mid-career space, women are leaving companies to start families, and companies need to find solutions to keep the pipeline strong. If Sandberg’s generation is not going to change the numbers at the top, she at least succeeded to inspire a generation of women. Today there are definitely more female role models as leaders than a decade ago and they’re a precious help to get rid of that glass ceiling.