Why everyone should prioritize gender equality in leadership

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Few organizations make gender equality in leadership a formal business priority, but those that do outperform.  

Despite abundant evidence that gender equality in leadership is good for business, an overwhelming majority of organizations say advancing women into leadership roles is not a formal business priority. In fact, women hold only 18 per cent of senior leadership positions among 2,300 organizations surveyed worldwide. In other words, men occupy approximately 82 per cent of the most influential roles in today’s organizations. Also, promoting women is not a formal business priority at 79 per cent of surveyed organizations. Respondents estimate it could take more than 50 years to close this gap. 

DID YOU READ: Nordic Organizations Now Need More than 11 Times Longer to Close Today’s Skills Gap 

Companies can make changes to help turn the tide much faster, and there’s a good reason to do so. We discovered a small cohort of exceptional organizations (about 12 per cent of respondents) that are more proactive in the push for gender equality in leadership. They report that they are outperforming their competition in profitability, revenue growth, innovation, and employee satisfaction. We call these organizations “First Movers.”

First Movers acknowledge their responsibility to take action and say they believe gender inclusiveness will result in enhanced organizational success. More than 80 per cent have elevated gender-equitable leadership to a strategic business imperative. 

From our analysis of the First Movers, we have identified four key practices that can help other organizations close the gender gap in leadership. Read the report below to learn about the practices your organization can use to create an inclusive corporate culture. At IBM we think that all employees should have equal opportunities to grow their careers. You can see our current job openings here.

While IBM has been a leader in corporate diversity and inclusion for decades, 2020 was a reset, and 2021 should be looked forward to. Click here to read the newly released 2020 Diversity & Inclusion report, which outlines actions focused on driving systemic change.

Advancing gender equity is a clear win. But doubling down on pre-COVID approaches won’t get organizations where they need to be. Read more about this in the following report.

If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to me at

HR Leader IBM Nordic

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