Grant Thornton: U.S. in world’s lower third for women in business leadership

Russia, the Philippines and Lithuania earn top marks
One-third of businesses worldwide still do not have any women in leadership positions

"It means a third of businesses still have no female input into executive decisions and no women helping grow the business at a leadership level."
CHICAGO, IL -- When it comes to the percentage of senior-management roles held by women, the United States is far behind much of the world, including such surprising leaders as Russia, the Philippines and Lithuania – according to Grant Thornton’s Women in Business 2016: Turning Promise into Practice report.

The annual report – released today for International Women’s Day – found that women hold only 23 percent of U.S. business-leadership posts, a lower percentage than 21 of the 36 other countries surveyed for the report.

Globally, the percentages varied dramatically from nation to nation: Russia held the top spot with 45 percent of senior-business roles occupied by women; and Japan held the lowest spot at 7 percent.

Country, Rank, Percentage of women in senior-business roles
Russia, 1, 45%
Philippines, 2, 39%
Lithuania, 2, 39%
Estonia, 4, 37%
Thailand, 4, 37%
Indonesia, 6, 36%
Latvia, 7, 35%
Poland, 8, 34%
China (mainland), 9, 30%
Georgia, 10, 29%
Italy, 10, 29%
Nigeria, 10, 29%
France, 13, 28%
Greece, 14, 27%
Sweden, 14, 26%
Armenia, 16, 26%
Canada, 16, 26%
Malaysia, 16, 26%
Singapore, 16, 26%
Spain, 16, 26%
Finland, 21, 25%
Australia, 22, 23%
Botswana, 22, 23%
South Africa, 22, 23%
United States, 22, 23%
United Kingdom, 26, 21%
Turkey, 27, 20%
Brazil, 28, 19%
Ireland, 28, 19%
New Zealand, 28, 19%
Argentina, 31, 18%
Mexico, 31, 18%
Netherlands, 31, 18%
India, 34, 16%
Germany, 35, 15%
Japan, 36, 7%

The report found some positive news for the United States, with the percentage of senior roles held by women moving up to 23 percent from last year’s 21 percent figure. However, the report also cautioned that the proportion of U.S. businesses with no women in senior management is almost one-third (31 percent) – a figure that mirrors the 33 percent global number.

“The fact that about a third of businesses have no women in senior-business roles speaks volumes,” said Erica O’Malley, national managing partner of Employee Benefit Plans and People Experience at Grant Thornton LLP. “It means a third of businesses still have no female input into executive decisions and no women helping grow the business at a leadership level.”

The report also points out that diversity is not just “the right thing to do,” it’s also good business, and can improve the bottom line. Previous Grant Thornton research cited in the report found that publicly listed companies with male-only boards in the United Kingdom, United States and India are forgoing potential profits of $655 billion.

So how can businesses change? According to O’Malley, part of the solution may be to “stop relying on top-down leadership structures and move to ones that are more collaborative.” She also suggested that companies could do more to make leadership appealing to women. This includes “redefining leadership in recognition of the different ways men and women view the skills good leaders need.”

The full Women in Business 2016: Turning Promise into Practice report offers additional recommendations to help businesses turn diversity promises into reality. It is available at – and an infographic of the country rankings is available at

The report’s findings are drawn from data collected quarterly for the Grant Thornton International Business Report.

Notes to editors

The Grant Thornton International Business Report (IBR) launched in 1992 initially in nine European countries now provides insight into the views and expectations of more than 10,000 businesses per year across 36 economies. For more information, please visit:

Data collection

Data collection is managed by Grant Thornton’s core research partner, Millward Brown. Questionnaires are translated into local languages with each participating country having the option to ask a small number of country specific questions in addition to the core questionnaire. Fieldwork is undertaken on a quarterly basis. The research is carried out primarily by telephone.


The Grant Thornton International Business Report is based on a survey of both publicly-listed and privately-held businesses. The data points for this press release are drawn from interviews with 5,520 chief executive officers, managing directors, chairmen or other senior executives from all industry sectors conducted between July and December 2015.

About Grant Thornton LLP

Founded in Chicago in 1924, Grant Thornton LLP (Grant Thornton) is the U.S. member firm of Grant Thornton International Ltd, one of the world’s leading organizations of independent audit, tax and advisory firms. In the United States, Grant Thornton has revenue in excess of $1.4 billion and operates 58 offices with more than 500 partners and 6,400 employees. Grant Thornton works with a broad range of dynamic publicly and privately held companies, government agencies, financial institutions, and civic and religious organizations.

“Grant Thornton” refers to Grant Thornton LLP, the U.S. member firm of Grant Thornton International Ltd (GTIL). GTIL and the member firms are not a worldwide partnership. Services are delivered by the member firms. GTIL and its member firms are not agents of, and do not obligate, one another and are not liable for one another’s acts or omissions. Please see for further details.

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