The path of business growth isn’t some straight road; it’s more like a wild roller coaster. And yeah, women are definitely claiming some higher-up spots, but the ride has slowed compared to the past.

This post originally appeared on Grant Thornton by Katie MacQuivey on March 14, 2023.

According to the “Women in Business 2023: The push for parity” report by Grant Thornton International Ltd (GTIL), the global count of women in senior leadership roles has inched up to 32.4%. However, this increase is marginal compared to the previous year. At this rate, it will take another 132 years to close the gender gap. Yes, it sounds like a daunting timeline.

GTIL delved into the intricacies of why women’s ascent to the top feels like an unsolvable puzzle. Companies are enthusiastic about fairness and inclusion due to Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) regulations. Parity isn’t just about numbers; it’s about attracting top talent and ensuring customer satisfaction. With the “Great Resignation” underway, demonstrating a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion is akin to holding a golden ticket for retaining future leaders. Neglecting diversity could lead to dismal ESG ratings and potentially harm finances.

However, this narrative extends beyond headcounts. Gender parity revolves around women assuming significant roles such as CEOs, managing directors, and chief information officers. More women are attaining these positions, particularly in North America, where businesses led by women are increasing to 39%. Yet, North America’s progress seems to be moving at a sluggish pace. It’s a wake-up call to continue striving for an all-encompassing environment.

Here’s the plot twist: the pandemic disrupted our plans but also presented new opportunities for women. Thanks to flexible work arrangements, women are now occupying senior leadership roles more than ever. GTIL’s research reveals that organizations embracing hybrid or remote work arrangements are excelling in terms of women in leadership positions, with figures reaching 34% and 36%. Conversely, traditional office setups only yield a 29% representation of women in leadership. Therefore, adapting to different work models can make a substantial difference.

To enhance diversity in leadership, it’s essential to incorporate flexible or hybrid work structures. Fast-track initiatives that celebrate diversity, such as women-focused leadership training. Implement programs for well-being and mentorship that propel women into leadership positions. Scrutinize the impact of adhering to office-centric environments on diversity. Continually refine flexible work policies to address any challenges associated with remote work.

In 2023, organizations stand at a crossroads. It’s time to intensify efforts toward gender parity. Fuse flexible work styles with top-tier leadership training and establish clear pathways to high-ranking positions. Remember, these numbers are not mere statistics; they underscore that diverse leadership, with women at the forefront, fosters innovation, fresh perspectives, and more informed decision-making.

As we witness these remarkable achievements unfold, it serves as a powerful reminder that diversity is a game-changer, and women are making significant strides in the business world. Let’s continue to cheer for and support the women leaders who are trailblazing a path of positive change and growth.

See the original post with all the data on Grant Thornton.