Press Release

Women in Business 2022

Business woman showing a project to her colleagues
Milan, 22 February 2022 – According to the annual Grant Thornton Women in Business report, in 2022 hold 32% of business leading positions, registering a 2 percentage points increase compared to the previous year, although the continued pandemic has slowed down the economies all over the world.
Key points
  • More than 70% of businesses in the Mid-Market are working to create a more inclusive environment to attract and retain female talents

  • In 2022, in Italy, the percentage of women CEOs and female managers has increased, respectively, to 20% (compared to 18% in 2021) and to 30% (compared to 29% in 2021). However, Italy is still behind the lines among the total 30 analysed world economies.

  • Compared to 2021, women CFOs and women COOs have increased at a global level (respectively, to 37% and 24%), while women CEOs have decreased by 2 percentage points (24%, compared to 26% in 2021).

All global macro-areas have exceeded the percentage of 30% of women holding leading positions, including APAC, which was the only region that did not reach such objective in 2021.

At a geographical level, South Africa has registered the higher number, with 42% of businesses having women in their leading positions, followed by Turkey and Malaysia, both with 40%. From an industry perspective, healthcare ranks first, with 39%, followed by tourism and extractions, both with 37%, while industries registering the lower percentages are manufacture and transport, with 28% and 29% of women holding leadership positions, respectively.

Compared to last year, Grant Thornton survey shows a decrease at a global level of women CEOs (-2%, to 24%), but a slight increase of women CFOs (+1%, to 37%) and women COOs (+2%, to 24%), as well as of women holding more traditional senior roles, from 31% in 2021 to 32% in 2022. 

The survey shows that 95% of business leaders in the Mid-Market taking actions to create a more inclusive culture and more than 70% of businesses are working to create a more inclusive environment.

In order to attract and retain female talents, promoting work/life balance and/or flexibility for employees (47%, 2 percentage points higher compared to 2021), introduce labour practices able to involve all professional figures more widely, including virtual and remote working (44%, 7 percentage points higher compared to 2021), and create a working environment where all colleagues can share ideas, problems and questions (44%,1 percentage points higher compared to the previous year).

At a global level, 73% of surveyed businesses believe that the new labour practices introduced due to Covid (particularly, remote working and a wider use of new technologies) will benefit women’s career paths in the long term, registering a 4% increase compared to 2021.

As concerns Italy, in 2022 women CEOs have increased – though slightly – compared to the previous year, reaching 20% of women holding business top positions (18% in 2021) and 30% of female senior managers (29% in 2021).

Lastly, women in leadership positions represent now 30% in Italy (+1% compared to 2021). Despite the 1-point increase, Italy remains behind the lines among the 30 world economies analysed. At the same time, the percentage of businesses without any female presence in their senior management has decreased to 12%, compared to 23% registered last year, thus bringing Italy in line with other European countries. 

Martina Cellana, Manager at Grant Thornton Financial Advisory Services commented: “To preserve what has been obtained so far and avoid turnarounds, it is crucial for each organization to implement measures and actions aimed to sensitize on engagement & inclusion and on a listening culture.

As women, we have to make our voice heard, never give up and leverage the targets reached so far to continue to build a meritocratic and just professional world, working every day to disrupt a still deep-rooted status quo. I believe – continued Martina Cellana – that for a woman’s professional growth it is important to ask questions and be part of an organization able to listen and accept.”

Maria Grazia Apuleo, Manager at Bernoni Grant Thornton, commented: “As the Report shows, female employment in Italy, despite a slight growth, is deficient and the increase of female presence in senior position is very limited. The commitment to speed up gender equality has never been so needed as in this historical moment.

During the pandemic, in fact, pre-existing difficulties in working places were even more evident. However – continued Maria Grazia Apuleo –, that period showed how a business’ health also depends on people’s emotional and psychological condition and we, at Grant Thornton, we commit ourselves to build a respectful and listening environment, giving value every day to different perspectives and cultures. In fact, to be reliable women in business, we need to receive support from a defined and solid organization, a sensitive structure fostering gender equality without bias and discrimination.” 

According to the Grant Thornton report, the impact of Covid-19 has led to the implementation of more and more inclusive business practices to attract potential employees and retain talents. These practices certainly benefit many women, who were previously limited by more traditional approaches to work, and it is important to continue incentivizing concrete actions aimed to eliminate gender disparities and create the right conditions allowing women to grow in leadership positions, in a dynamic and competitive environment.