Equality in the workplace for women has long been a much-debated topic, and something that International Women’s Day this week has again brought to light.

Research conducted by Weber Shandwick has revealed that women only make up 10.9% of senior roles in the world’s top 500 companies. That’s perhaps no surprise, but interestingly, the research also found that the companies with a high percentage of female leaders were those who obtained the most admired reputation.

A strong reputation is the foundation for a successful business, so do businesses need to see a rise in the number of females in senior and decision-making roles to succeed?

Key findings

Unsurprisingly, throughout the research it became apparent that out of the 500 companies studied, not one of them had an equal male to female representation.

Take a look at some of the further findings:

  • With 27% of women in senior management, Sweden takes the lead for the market with the highest
  • General Merchandisers came out as the top industry for women with an index of 33%
  • Only 13 out of 500 companies have a female CEO
  • Nearly 4 in 10 companies have an all-male senior team

Gender equality in companies

Outlined by Weber Shandwick in a previous study, 38% of executives stated that “diverse perspectives lead to better financial performance.” In order to get this diversity, an increase in female leaders is needed across companies.

International gender equality appears to be a long way off equal with the top ranking country for the most women in senior management being Sweden which still only stood at 27%.

Sweden was followed by Turkey (26%), Norway (23%) and Australia (22%).

However, within the world’s top 500 companies we have seen a significant rise of 3.6 percent over 10 years (2004 to 2014) of female CEOs; a statistic which is continuing to increase year after year.

The findings that a strong female presence within management results in a strong company reputation speaks volumes about the positive business effects diversity can have.

If a company is renowned for their diverse and successful employees, businesses will see an increase in staff acquisition and retention.

Maintaining a good reputation is an internal job too and demonstrating equal opportunities within the workplace will no doubt help towards this.

Importance of company reputation

A company’s reputation can easily be their most competitive asset; and their most valuable. You only have to look at recent high-profile crises such as the Volkswagen emissions scandal to see the impact a damaged reputation can have on financial standing.

Bersin and Deloitte recently found that by introducing a diversity and inclusion policy into the workplace cash flow is 2.3 times higher per employee. Statistics such as these outline the importance of having a good reputation both internally and externally, something that CEOs should consider implementing in the future.

Gender equality appears to be becoming a new driver of company reputation and has a significant impact on a number of factors from financial standing to staff and sales. Allowing the potential of gender balance and equal opportunities within the workplace could give CEOs the boost they need if recent studies and statistics are taken on board.