The lack of structural and institutional backing for women throughout their careers is identified as a serious obstacle to their reaching senior positions, according to a major report by the OECD.
‘The Pursuit of Gender Equality: An Uphill Battle’ provides an update to landmark research undertaken by the organisation in 2012, and finds there has been “very little progress” in reaching gender equality goals, whether that is in education, labour force participation, or in leadership.
In 2016, 20% of board seats were taken by women, up from 16.8% in 2013. On average, 4.8% of CEOs were women in 2016, from 2.4% in 2013. Women held 28.7% of seats in lower or single houses of parliament, from 27.5% in 2013.
The median full-time female worker earns almost 15% less than her male counterpart, on average across the OECD—a rate that has barely changed since 2010.
While countries have set out various plans (and legislation) to promote gender balance on boards and in senior management, inadequate buy-in or support from leaders, plus underdeveloped professional networks, lack of accountability or proper monitoring systems, are all hindering progress.
“Bridging the gender divide in public and corporate life is a matter of fairness as well as effective governance,” states the report.
Countries that have introduced quotas have seen more immediate increases in the number of women on boards, with disclosure and targets leading to a more gradual increase.
Nine countries (Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Israel and Norway) have introduced compulsory gender quotas for plc and state-owned enterprises.