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Women in Business 2021

Grant Thornton




Workplace Gender Equality

Women in Business 2021

Women in Business 2021

The Women in Business 2021 report by Grant Thornton outlines the position of women in senior management around the world as we witness the emergence of a more diverse and inclusive leadership model, and highlights the actions leaders need to take to create a step change in the proportion of high-level roles held by women.

The report demonstrates that progress towards greater diversity and inclusion, and particularly gender parity in senior management, has moved slower than it should in the past decade. But as a result of the upheavals of the past year, it is both more possible and more important than ever before.

Research studies from 2020 are definitive that women’s employment and career development have both been impacted significantly by the pandemic. But they diverge over whether it has set the gender parity movement back by several years, or if it could prove to be a springboard into senior positions for more women.


  • In 2021 there is cause for optimism with a third of all senior management positions likely to be held by women. Reaching this milestone is predicted to catalyse greater gender diversity in senior management and engender lasting transformational change.
    • Almost all of the regions that were measured recorded their respective highest or equal highest proportions of women in senior management.
    • However, the APAC region was the poorest performer, falling just short of the 30% tipping point at 28%. The region’s improvement since 2017 stands at three percentage points, with 2021 returning its proportion of women in senior management to the level seen in 2019, after a minor dip in 2020.
  • The report also shows that 2021 as a significant landmark was reached, with nine in 10 businesses worldwide having at least one woman in their senior management teams. By comparison, in 2017 that figure stood at two-thirds, with only 66% of businesses having at least one female leader.


  • Introduction
  • Global Findings
  • Senior positions held
  • Actions being taken
  • COVID-19 and Diversity & Inclusion – assessing the impact
  • The rise of flexible working in 2021
  • A culture of inclusion fosters innovation
  • Leadership in 2021
  • Conclusions
  • Methodology

This report was originally published on the Grant Thornton website.

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