Insight & Analysis

Press release: Female leadership has only increased by less than 3% since 2010

Published: Mar 2020

13th March 2020 – As we celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD) on March 8th, we applaud the women breaking the glass ceiling in the world of business. But as we move into a new decade, how far have we come and how far do we still have to go?

Newspaper press release

In light of this day, new research from packaging retailers The Group has revealed the number of women in leadership roles has only increased by less than 3% since 2010 within the UK. By delving into The Office for National Statistics’ annual population survey, currently holding research up to 2018, it found only 35% of leadership roles are taken by women today.

By looking into the employment sectors stated by ONS within the UK, the research dissects the data through the following categories: Agriculture and Fishing, Energy and Water, Manufacturing, Construction, Distribution, Hotels & Restaurants; Transport & Communication; Banking, Finance & Insurance etc.; and Public Admin, Education & Health.

Over 50% of the UK population are women, but most sectors are falling well short

McKinsey’s Delivering through Diversity (2018) report shows that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on executive teams are 21% more likely to have above-average profitability. Yet despite this, most sectors are failing to gain the full benefits that can come from more women within leadership positions on their team:

  • In half the given sectors, leadership roles are comprised of less than a quarter of women
  • Construction is made up of 16% of women in leadership positions
  • Energy & Water is made up of 19% of women in leadership positions
  • Manufacturing is made up of 22% of women in leadership positions

Public Admin, Education & Health sector has the most female leaders of all sectors

When it comes to the top industries for female leaders, this was Public Admin, Education & Health (57%), which is comprised of public administration and defence; compulsory social security; education; human health and social work activities.

However, this is the only industry that is equal to, or has more of, women in leadership roles than that of men. Public Admin, Education & Health was followed with a shocking 20% margin, by Distribution, Hotels & Restaurants (37%) and Banking, Finance & Insurance (34%).

Gender diversity is on the rise, but only incrementally

It’s important to note that all but one sectors listed have seen an increase from a holistic view from 2010 onwards. However, this has only been incremental (at 1% overall), and there is still low representation in traditionally male-dominated sectors, as well as female-dominated sectors too.

So, where are we seeing the most and least growth?

  • The industry with the biggest growth rate of women in leadership positions between 2010 and now is Agriculture & Fishing, which has risen from 15% to 29%
  • This is followed by Energy & Water (14% to 19%) and Construction (12% to 16%)
  • Transport & Communication has declined from 25% to 24%

Tips to achieving equality in the workplace

So, what can all companies – big and small – do to ensure we are beating the bias and benefiting from women leadership in every workplace? Some top tips include:

  • Transparency: Showing current employees the steps your company is taking to improve gender equality in the workplace, and then tying these to individuals, teams and groups so that they are both actionable and measurable.
  • Unconscious bias: The best way to prevent unconscious bias in the workplace is to have guidelines in place to ensure everyday processes – such as training, reviews and promotions – are fair and subjective.
  • Modernity: Be open to flexibility for the sake of finding and retaining the top pool of talent, rather than ruling demographics out. This may include flexible hours and modified schedules.

Warehouse Supervisor at RAJA UK, Kyrie Hughes, offers up some further words of encouragement to help drive workplaces towards true equality: “Being a successful leader means being able to listen to your team, empathise with their thinking, and inspire meaningful action. I was lucky enough to learn these traits from leaders I’ve had in the past. A great way to ensure we continue this sharing of knowledge is to encourage and mentor other women to follow in our footsteps.”

For the full overview of the study, please see Beating the Bias – Women in Leadership.

All our content is free, just register below

As we move to a new and improved digital platform all users need to create a new account. This is very simple and should only take a moment.

Already have an account? Sign In

Already a member? Sign In

This website uses cookies and asks for your personal data to enhance your browsing experience. We are committed to protecting your privacy and ensuring your data is handled in compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).