60% of consumer products companies worldwide report 25% or less of their senior executive team is female

60 percent of consumer products companies worldwide report 25 percent or less of their senior executive team is female, according to global survey by IIC Partners. 52 percent expect to hire more women in future. ‘Disconnect’ between women’s purchasing power and executive management points to succession planning opportunity for organizations. Despite the fact that women are the primary decision-makers for most consumer purchases, only 25 percent of senior executives at a majority of consumer products companies worldwide are female, according to a survey of 1,270 business leaders from around the world by IIC Partners.

“Women today account for 85 percent of all consumer purchases, yet 60 percent of consumer products companies report that their senior executive team is three-quarters male,” said Charlotte Eblinger, Director of EMEA for IIC Partners. “The business case for gender diversity has been well-documented. Companies with gender diversity typically attract the best employees, reduce turnover and enjoy stronger organizational performance. “This disconnect in the consumer products industry points to a pressing opportunity for companies’ succession planning.”
Consumer products companies appear to recognize the opportunity. Fifty-two percent of them said they expect to hire more senior-level females in the future. Sixty-one percent said the issue of gender diversity was either “very important” or “somewhat important.” Both of those statistics were slightly higher than the average for all industries.

“Consumer brands clearly recognize that more gender diversity at the leadership level will better reflect the reality of purchasing decisions in today’s marketplace,” Eblinger noted. “As companies plan for future talent needs, diversity will assume more importance, particularly in industries like consumer products and retail.” Within the retail industry, 64 percent of companies said their senior executive team was less than 25 percent female. Forty-five percent of retail companies said they expected to hire more senior women in the future. And 57 percent of retail companies said the issue of gender diversity was either “very important” or “somewhat important.”

Both of the industries’ gender composition at the senior executive level mirrored that of companies, of all sizes, in a variety of industries, around the world. The average senior executive team across the globe is 75 percent male and 25 percent female. Respondents were asked which functional area of their business was expected to change the most in the coming three years. Across all industries, technology was named by 47 percent of companies as a top contender. But in the consumer products and retail sectors, technology was ranked fourth, behind marketing, sales and human resources.

“Consumer product and retail companies were among the first industries to integrate technology into their sales process,” Eblinger observed, “so in their minds, they may believe the most dramatic change from a technology standpoint has already occurred. “But companies must not overlook the importance of technology in their succession planning efforts. Tomorrow’s leaders must be as comfortable with technology as they are with financial and operational issues.”

About the Survey.
A total of 1,270 senior-level executives completed the online survey on succession planning during a six-week period in late 2013.
• 62 percent of respondents were at the C-suite or Managing Director level.
• 520 were from the Americas, 383 were from EMEA and 347 were from Asia-Pacific.
• Respondents represented 18 different industries.
• 38 percent of respondents work in publicly held organizations, 43 percent work in privately-held firms, eight percent represent family-owned companies, five percent work in not-for-profit organizations, and three percent work in other types of firms.

The survey, developed by IIC Partners, was administered by Amárach Research of Dublin, Ireland.