World’s largest economies are lagging behind in developing female leaders

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  • Recent global study of almost 22,000 organizations worldwide shows that very few have reached 30% on boards
  • EY calls for people to #PledgeForParity on International Women’s Day to accelerate gender equality

SINGAPORE, 3 MARCH 2016 – As the ‘Pledge For Parity’ sponsor for International Women’s Day (IWD) 2016, EY reaffirms its commitment to accelerating women’s advancement and calls for individuals and companies to move from talk to purposeful action in achieving gender parity.

International Women's Day (March 8) is a day celebrating globally the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. Recent data from EY & The Peterson Institute for International Economics reveals that companies in just five countries have at least 30% senior women executives, with only Norway exceeding the 30% mark for women on company boards. The research also shows that companies with at least 30% women in leadership can achieve up to a 6 percentage point increase in net margin.

In the largest global study of its kind, the research focused on data from almost 22,000 publicly traded firms across 91 countries. It found that Bulgaria (37%), Latvia (36%), Philippines (33%), Slovenia (33%) and Romania (32%) have made the most progress toward gender parity in business with the percentage of female executives. For having the most women-on-boards, the top five countries are Norway (40%), Latvia (25%), Italy (24%), Finland (23%) and Bulgaria (22%).

While gender parity in business varies widely across the globe, most countries are still far below the 30% threshold for women CEOs, women on boards and women executives, with the world’s largest economies – United States, China and Japan – not reaching the top 10 for any category.

Mark A. Weinberger, EY’s Global Chairman & CEO, says:
“Companies that advance women into leadership roles are going to have the upper hand, with more engaged workforces, stronger cultures and improved economic performance. We know that gender-balanced companies achieve better results. As business leaders we need to ask ourselves: Have we made enough progress? Are we helping enough women find their way into leadership roles in order to make our businesses better?”

EY has developed a series of pledges in sponsoring International Women’s Day. The IWD pledges arose out of EY’s own experience and research conducted on what helps most to close the gender gap. They are designed to provide people with practical steps they can take as individuals and within their organizations to advance women in business and the wider community. Pledges can be made on the International Women’s Day website. Once people take a ‘Pledge For Parity’, EY and International Women’s Day encourage them to inspire others by sharing their pledge on social media using the hashtags #PledgeForParity and #IWD2016.

Uschi Schreiber, EY’s Global Vice Chair – Markets and Chair of Global Accounts Committee, says:
"The current direction and state of gender parity and diversity across all levels of business needs to be changed. At a time where business and government face unprecedented challenges due to technology and disruption, having diverse leadership and management is a necessary and critical tool to survive today. We need our best talent from all areas to bring additional perspectives to complex decision making - now more than ever."

EY seeks to help individuals and organizations tackle gender inequality in the workplace, through its Women. Fast forward platform. The platform is designed as an accelerator to inspire individuals to put gender on their agendas and help organizations take the concrete steps needed to advance women in the workplace.   


Notes to Editors

About EY

EY is a global leader in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services. The insights and quality services we deliver help build trust and confidence in the capital markets and in economies the world over. We develop outstanding leaders who team to deliver on our promises to all of our stakeholders. In so doing, we play a critical role in building a better working world for our people, for our clients and for our communities.

EY refers to the global organization, and may refer to one or more, of the member firms of Ernst & Young Global Limited, each of which is a separate legal entity. Ernst & Young Global Limited, a UK company limited by guarantee, does not provide services to clients. For more information about our organization, please visit

This news release has been issued by EYGM Limited, a member of the global EY organization that also does not provide any services to clients.

About EY’s Women. Fast forward
Women. Fast forward is EY’s global platform designed to accelerate the rate of change toward gender parity in the workplace. By bringing together the experience, resources and knowledge of our people and our networks, EY aims to build a better working world for women and forge a lasting legacy of growth, increased prosperity and stronger communities throughout the world.

About The Peterson Institute for International Economics
The Peterson Institute for International Economics is a private nonpartisan, nonprofit institution for rigorous, intellectually open and in-depth study and discussion of international economic policy. Its purpose is to identify and analyze important issues to make globalization beneficial and sustainable for the people of the United States and the world, and then to develop and communicate practical new approaches for dealing with them. Its work is funded by a highly diverse group of philanthropic foundations, private corporations and interested individuals, as well as by income on its capital fund. About 35% of the Institute's resources in its latest fiscal year were provided by contributors from outside the United States. A list of all financial supporters for the preceding four years is posted at

To learn more or access the complete Peterson/EY research, please visit The underlying data and calculations are available for replication and extension, in keeping with the Institute’s policy of research review and disclosure.