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The CS Gender 3000: The Reward for Change

Credit Suisse Research




Impact Investing Workplace Gender Equality

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The CS Gender 3000: The Reward for Change

The CS Gender 3000: The Reward for Change

The CS Gender 3000: The Reward for Change report from Credit Suisse explores the link that exists between diversity and improved business performance, and the measures the progress made on structural changes and development of women talent.

In this second edition, the report maps 27,000 senior managers at over 3,000 largest companies globally. Following on from the original 2014 study, the analysed sample has been increased by several hundred companies. In addition, microfinance institutions, start-ups and venture capital firms are analysed in new, dedicated chapters.


  • The report finds evidence that companies with a higher proportion of women in decision-making roles continue to generate higher returns on equity, while running more conservative balance sheets. In fact, where women account for the majority in the top management, the businesses show superior sales growth, high cash flow returns on investments and lower leverage.
  • While there is evident progress in female representation at Board of Directors level, where women occupy 14.7% of seats—a 54% increase since 2010—this positive trend does not carry over to the representation of women in senior management ranks.
  • In fact, the study finds a growing disparity between boardroom and executive floor diversity and identifies several related challenges. For example, whereas the female “overboarding” seen in the US and European boardrooms enabled rapid achievement of diversity targets, it has also tended to reduce the pool of women available for senior management roles. This is particularly important as female CEOs—in the sample, these represent a mere 3.9%—often promote women and help shape the much-needed talent pipeline.
  • Asia in particular has shown considerable improvements with a 60% rise in gender diversity, however at the boardroom level female representation in Asia is still less than 10%.
  • Women make up 14.1% of CFOs globally, three times the number of CEOs, though this is heavily skewed towards emerging Asia, and China in particular, where they number 22%. There are local cultural reasons for women being placed in key financial roles, not least to ensure corporate governance standards. But as the study also finds the highest number of female business unit heads also in emerging Asia, corporate governance cannot be the only reason. The report suggests that the political heritage provides some explanation for the greater opportunities for women.
  • In Emerging Asia where both State ownership (China) and entrepreneurship have played defining roles in shaping management practices and expectations today, the report find higher representation of women in key financial and operations positions. The lack of business opportunity broadly for previous generations plus the demand for ‘new’ skills at many of the technology-related and new economy companies today has led to far greater openings for women to participate in senior management teams and female CTOs comprise close to 21%, almost double the closest comparator, developed Asia with 11%.


  • Editorial
  • Rewarding change in the boardroom
  • Women in management in 2016
  • Matched dataset
  • “The 50% club”
  • The female CEO: the “Glass Cliff,” the “Queen Bee” and other myths
  • Gender in microfinance: Women rule
  • Venture capital and entrepreneurs: Women investing in women?
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Investing in Women