Failure to Build Talent Pipeline Threatens Women’s Workplace Progress

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· According to When Women Thrive Global Report, 10-year forecast shows Europe and North America struggling to achieve workforce equality; Asia and Middle East ranked lowest

· Only 9% of organizations offer women-focused health, financial wellness

· Leaders urged to focus on executive engagement and pay equity

Women are under-represented in the workforce globally, and if organizations maintain the current rate of progress, female representation will reach only 40% globally in the professional and managerial ranks in 2025, according to Mercer’s second annual When Women Thrive global report.

A senior Mercer Middle East figure says the time for awareness and action on the issue across the region has arrived. “There may be a constant drumbeat on this topic across the Gulf, but getting the noise translated into sustainable progress is still some way off,” says Tom O’Byrne, who heads Mercer’s market development arm for the region.

“We see women represented in some government sector leadership positions but in the private sector things are still relatively bleak. A host of barriers still exist across the labor market, and it will take strong business leadership over many years to move the needle,” he added. “There are some exciting pockets of activity in many Gulf capitals – including women setting up their own businesses – but the broader labor market mix is still far from where it needs to be.”

Among the key trends revealed in the report is that women’s representation within organizations actually declines as career levels rise – from support staff through the executive level.

Mercer’s report finds that although women are 1.5 times more likely than men to be hired at the executive level, they are also leaving organizations from the highest rank at 1.3 times the rate of men, undermining gains at the top.

According to the When Women Thrive report, women make up 40% of the average company’s workforce. Globally, they represent 33% of managers, 26% of senior managers, and 20% of executives (see Figure 2).

The research – the most comprehensive of its kind featuring input from nearly 600 organizations around the world, employing 3.2 million people, including 1.3 million women – identifies a host of key drivers known to improve diversity and inclusion (D&I) efforts.

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